Heat but no light likely at Durban climate talks

The stage is set for the annual UN summit on climate change starting Monday at Durban in South Africa.

New Delhi: The stage is set for the annual UN summit on climate change starting Monday at Durban in South Africa but Indian officials and experts are pessimistic about the prospects of a breakthrough that can bring the rich and poor countries on board on the critical subject of global warming.

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of Parties 17 (CoP) summit from Nov 28 to Dec 9 is likely to seal the fate of the Kyoto Protocol - the only legal regime that calls for emission cut by developed countries but expires in 2012.

According to Indian officials, nothing comprehensive is expected at the Durban talks, which will see negotiators from 194 countries party to the UNFCCC trying to carve out the best deal for their governments and people.

The bone of contention between developed and developing countries remains on climate financing, transfer of energy efficiency technology, the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol and legally binding emission cuts.

Sunita Narain, director general of the Centre for Science and Environment, said not much is expected in Durban, except the usual shadow-boxing.

Deepening Euro zone crisis is also expected to cloud the talks as developed countries have failed to provide promised climate funding to poor countries to take measures to combat climate change.

Developed countries have committed $30 billion as fast-start financing by 2012 and $100 billion per year by 2020 for developing countries.

India`s former key negotiator Prodipto Ghosh told IANS: "There is no new money coming from rich countries and they have been re-packaging existing funds to help developing countries adapt to climate change and curb emissions."

Seen groupwise, the European Union is ready for a second commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol but with a rider that the US should also agree to it and developing countries like India and China should commit to bringing down emissions.

US President Barack Obama however created a controversy early this month by saying that the US is doing enough but developing countries should also take necessary action. Other major economies like Australia, Japan and Russia are also of the same view.

India has taken a tough stand and has proposed three key points to be included in the agenda of the UN climate summit -- equitable access to sustainable development, technology transfer and unilateral trade measures to be part of the negotiations.

Sending a strong signal, Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan stressed that countries should shun "competitive politics" if the world has to arrive at some cordial outcome in Durban.

Being the host nation there is lot of pressure on South Africa for making the Durban conference a success while the Association of Small Island States (AOSIS) - which will be the first to suffer -- wants a concrete outcome from the summit.

So what can change the outcome? Narain is of the view that there is no other way but that the developing world regroups and takes leadership. "Our world is the worst hit. We do not need to be preached about the pain of climate change," Narain told IANS.

Eyes are now at Durban to see how committed are world leaders to save the planet from the adverse actions of its habitants.


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