Global climate change and its impact are more evident today than ever before. Despite the fact that the problem was identified way back in 1979 in the first World Climate Conference in Geneva, it took more than two decades to put in place a framework to deal with global warming. It was in 1992, with the adoption of United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change at the Rio Earth Summit that the international governments started recognising climate change as a threat.
However, the convention merely established a mechanism for more specific steps to be taken over a period of time and has provided no tangible solution. The last two summits - Copenhagen summit in 2009 and Cancun Summit in 2010 - ended without any major consensus as the convention is perceived differently by the stakeholders.
India being one of the major players has its own stand on the issue.
India is the third largest emitter of green house gases (GHG) in volume after the US and China. However, it believes that the climate change is due to cumulative impact of accumulated GHGs and not due to the current levels of emission - because of which the developed countries should compensate for their historical responsibility, as also enshrined in the UNFCCC, and should make deeper cut in emissions.
India has maintained a `per-capita` approach to emission and has argued that an average Indian emits much lower GHG than even the global average, which eventually gives them the right to pollute, as pursuit of social and economic development comes at the cost of inevitable increase in emission.
However, to ensure that in pursue of development it doesn’t sideline the major threat, India has effectively put a cap on its emissions by not allowing its per capita GHG emissions to exceed the average per capita emissions of the developed countries.
India has also opposed the European Union proposal that sought the second commitment period of Kyoto Protocol, starting 2013.
India along with other BASIC (Brazil, South Africa, India and China) countries has warned that they would not support carbon trading with those developed countries which did not commit to targets under the second phase of Kyoto Protocol. Voluntarily, India has committed to reducing emissions` intensity by 20-25 percent below 2005 levels by 2020.
India, in 2008, had set up National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) which outlined policies aimed at sustainable growth and dealing with climate change concerns effectively.
The mission aims at maximum utilisation of renewable sources like solar energy, enhancing energy efficiency, extending the existing energy conservation building code, urban waste management and recycling, 20% improvement in water use efficiency in the Himalayan region, climate adaptation in agriculture among others.
During the recently concluded BASIC talks in Beijing, Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan clearly stated that the country would not take back its stance on equity, intellectual property rights and trade in UN climate change negotiations. She said that for the past two years India and other developing countries had walked extra mile as part of confidence building measures but there is much more to be done on part of the developed countries.
With all the differences between participating countries it remains to be seen whether an effective framework will see light of the day at Durban.