Poverty as a posture?

  • 15/01/2008

The road to next climate negotiation turns hostile as some developing nations are upgraded.

Ranidhera, a remote village in Chhattisgarh made a desperate attempt to join the elite club of Indian villages which gets a few hours of electricity, through the biodiesel route. The effort is limping as the local jatropha plantation did not take off. Thousands of villages are still waiting with cables, or cableless poles, or worse, just hope, to realize the electricity dream. That is exactly why, India has argued in international climate negotiations, for an exception to binding emissions cut. Developing nations need to grow to provide the vast poorer section its basic needs—this will take a lot of energy. Nobody is questioning this noble duty. But rich nations refuse to believe that India is a poor country anymore.

A report in the Japanese press, originally rumoured to be a leak, on the Japanese proposal on emissions cut to be tabled in December this year at the next CoP in Poznan, Poland, set the world of climate diplomacy on a spin. The proposal, by now, has been confirmed everywhere as an official Japanese proposal that redefines developing nations, known as non-annex 1 countries so far in all climate negotiations into 3 categories. It postulates that there are various levels of capabilities among these. So it separates countries like India, China and Brazil as emerging economies with higher capabilities to mitigate climate change, which must take binding commitments on emissions cut. This comes close to the eu attempt to redefine developing nations into various categories during the Accra climate meet in August this year. The eu suggestion was met with spirited interjection by various members of G77+China.

One may argue that these attempts are a mere ploy by rich nations to postpone their commitments on funds and technology transfer to developing nations. But the question still remains: Have we done enough to bridge the gap among our people? It’s very likely that if we take emissions commitments, thousands of villages like Ranidhera will not get anything because the Indian rich will never give away their share of energy to the poor. And we will not get much assistance from rich nations as we will be labelled rich.

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