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As Poland Climate Summit Enters Critical Phase, India Has Lot at Stake to Combat Rich Nations' 'Divide and Rule' Policy

This week when the negotiations intensify and reach to critical stage, India will have a lot on the stake and the negotiators will have to keep the bloc of poor and developing nations together to combat the divide and rule tactic of the developed world.

Hridayesh Joshi |

Updated:December 10, 2018, 7:42 AM IST
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As Poland Climate Summit Enters Critical Phase, India Has Lot at Stake to Combat Rich Nations' 'Divide and Rule' Policy
People attend a demonstration to urge politicians to act against climate change. (File photo/REUTERS)
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Katowice (Poland): In Poland the rich have a plan against the poor — Divide and Rule and at the Climate Summit in Katowice, this clearly seems to be the strategy of the U.S., European and other developed countries like Japan, Canada and Australia.

The countries are using the same old tactic of dividing the bloc of developing countries as they did in 2015 when Paris Agreement was crafted. Back then, the US engineered a group called “High Ambition Coalition” that claimed countries ranging from all 28 EU countries, U.S. and another 79 countries, mainly poor and vulnerable countries in Africa and the Pacific. They used this strategy to pressurise on large developing countries like India, South Africa and Malaysia who were negotiating hard to ensure equity and finance strongly in the deal.

This time the scene has changed a bit though.

“US can no longer be on the driver’s seat of the High Ambition Coalition as President Trump has pulled out of the Paris agreement. But it continues to do backseat driving with its allies like Australia and Japan at the forefront and European Union siding with them,” says Sanjay Vashist, Director, Climate Action Network South Asia (CANSA).

“Developed world has also not fulfilled its promise to fully implement Kyoto Protocol till 2020, before Paris Agreement gets operational, under which only developed countries need to reduce the emissions. That has caused mistrust in the negotiations and will end up in increasing the burden of emission reduction on developing countries,” adds Vashist.

Poor countries like small island states, Least Developed Countries and Africa are lured to stand with them in anticipation of side deals and better bargain with the large developing countries.

In the climate change talks, 196 countries are negotiating the contours of the rulebook to operationalise the Paris deal under which nations have committed to take steps to curb global warming and tackle climate impacts. The biggest group in the negotiations is known as “G-77 plus China”. It has more than 130 countries and it subsumes several small groups like Association of Small Island States (AOSIS), Least Developed Countries (LDCs), African Group of Nations (AGN), Like Minded Developing Countries (LMDC) that includes large countries like Philippines, Brazil, India, China and South Africa.

The key issues being a hard bargain on the table are finance, ambition, transparency and loss and damage. Rich and developed world have to provide money to the poor and developing countries to transition their economy to clean energy and build capacity to fight the impacts of climate change like cyclonic storms, droughts, heavy rainfalls and sea level rise.

Under the Paris agreement, the developed countries have to provide the information in advance about how much money and through which source they will provide to developing nations. There is another clause on the accounting of the finance provided by rich nations. However, the developed countries are not willing to have a clear system where they have to provide this information in advance and transparently review that whether the money they provide was real.

Developing countries say this is not acceptable to them because most of their plans of achieving the target of clean energy and dealing with impacts depend on the funding from rich nations.
“If we do not know how much money is going to come how can we set our targets for clean energy and preparing for climate impacts” said one negotiator from a developing country participating in the Katowice Summit. Though the developed countries promised support of $ 100 billion every year 2020 onwards, developing countries say that developed nations continue to “cook up” the numbers about the finance provided in the form of the “loans” and “guarantees” instead of grants.

Under the transparency clause in the rule book, all countries will have to submit the reports about the steps taken by them to deal with climate change. This is the most favorite issue of rich and developed nations as they can arm-twist and pressurise developing countries like India. The developed world wants only one kind of transparency rules applied to all the countries with no or very little flexibility and concession to poor and developing countries who do not have the capacity or institutions to provide such reports.

This is where India and other large developing countries are demanding for more flexibility and a little relaxed time frame. While PM Modi’s ambitious targets of installing renewable energy is largely appreciated, India at these climate talks remains under pressure to agree to stronger rules without any promise of financial and technological support.

Experts say that a clear definition of finance is “mandatory” to allay the concerns of developing particularly the most vulnerable nations. After a lot of pressure from the developing nations specially from the African Group of Nations the EU and other rich nations have started to engage in this issue in negotiations later last week.

Under ambition, all countries, particularly in light of the special report of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change on 1.5 degree of warming, are being urged to revise their current plans of clean energy committed under Paris deal and submit it to UN before 2020. The idea and purpose behind this are to start the Paris deal with higher goals of clean energy so that the impacts of climate change can be reduced faster. The negotiations are currently on how strong the decision can be, especially when rich countries do not seem to honour their finance-related commitments.

The developed countries also do not want to stress much on the issue of “Loss and Damage” where they will have to compensate to the developing countries for the havoc inflicted by the disasters like cyclonic storms, sea level rise, drought and flood.

The issue of loss and damage is critical for the countries like India that are prone to natural disasters and the country has seen increased frequency of disasters in form of flood like in Kerala or the successive cyclones like Okhi, Gaja and Titli recently. While the developing countries need a robust Loss and Damage clause for future review and finance, the rich world is brushing it aside. Ironically, the issue of Loss and Damage was included in negotiations five years before in the Warsaw Climate Summit held in Poland only, who is the host of current climate summit again.

This week when the negotiations intensify and reach to critical stage, India will have a lot at stake and the negotiators will have to keep the bloc of poor and developing nations together to combat the divide and rule tactic of the developed world.

People are pinning their hopes on the ministers who begin to arrive on Monday. The current draft of the negotiating text will now be handed over to the ministers for the political phase of negotiations. But a developing country negotiator confided that “overall, the positions are going to be the same and we are now up for a big fight.”

(This story is the third in News18’s four-part series on the UN climate summit in Poland.)

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| Edited by: Ahona Sengupta
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