TWN Info Service on Climate Change (July10/01)
5 July 2010
Third World Network

No global deal without equity, says Indian Minister
Published in SUNS #6958 dated 5 July 2010

Mumbai, 30 Jun (Meena Raman) -- The Minister of the Environment and Forests of India, Mr. Jairam Ramesh, has reiterated that any global deal on climate change must be based on equity and an "equitable sharing of atmospheric space", if it is to be accepted by developing countries.

This principle must also be given operational effect and not remain mere words, he said, adding that the issue of "measurement, reporting and verification" of developing countries' mitigation actions should not be discussed in the absence of equity.

The Minister criticized the latest draft of an agreement issued by the Chair of a UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) working group for not reflecting equity and the sharing of atmospheric space.

Mr Ramesh was speaking at the inaugural session of an international conference on "Global Carbon Budgets and Equity in Climate Change" convened by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), with the support of the Indian Ministry of Environment and Forests, and held on 28-29 June in Mumbai, India.

It was attended by participants from Germany, the United Kingdom, Brazil, Malaysia and India, which comprised of Indian government climate policy officials and former climate negotiators, academics and researchers, the South Centre, which is an inter-governmental think-tank from Geneva, and civil society representatives.

Also speaking at the inaugural session were Dr. S. Parasuraman, the Director of TISS, Dr. T. Jayaraman, the Chair of the Centre for Science, Technology and Society of TISS and Mr. Martin Khor, Executive Director of the South Centre.

Minister Jairam Ramesh said that any agreement on climate was not acceptable to developing countries if it was not anchored in equity and an equitable sharing of atmospheric space among all countries which should not remain as mere words but must be given operational effect.

He lamented that the latest draft text prepared by the Chair (dated June 10) of the Ad-hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action (AWG-LCA) did not reflect the need for equity and equitable access in the sharing of global atmospheric resources. The challenge for negotiators was therefore to re-establish the understanding of equity and equitable access to atmospheric space in policy-making and in the negotiations.

The Minister also stressed that there was no room to discuss the issue of MRV (measuring, reporting and verification) of developing country mitigation actions in the absence of equity and equitable sharing of the atmospheric space.

Carbon budgeting is key for ensuring the paradigm of equitable access to atmospheric space and how this is to be supported and operationalized is vital, said Mr. Ramesh further.

In his keynote speech, Khor said that the concepts of historical responsibility, equity and equitable access and sharing of atmospheric resources were not properly treated in the Copenhagen Accord. These concepts were however present in the text of the Chair of the AWG-LCA in Copenhagen.

However, he noted that these concepts were not present in the latest Chair's text of June 10 from the Bonn meeting. He agreed with the Minister's call to restore these concepts in the negotiating text and to operationalise them.

Khor said that there was need to develop a methodology on carbon budgeting. He said that between 1850 and today, developed countries had over-used their fair share of the carbon space by many hundreds of billions of tonnes of carbon dioxide, while developing countries had contributed far below their proportionate share.

For the future, there is a need to allocate the carbon rights and obligations of countries, and in particular determine what is the fair share for developed and developing countries between 2010 and 2050.

If the developed countries could not perform according to what they should objectively do, this could be one basis for their contribution to a fund to assist developing countries to undertake their climate actions.

The concept of "contraction and convergence" among developed and developing countries to reach the same level of, for example, 1 or 2 tonnes per capita by 2050 is a good starting point for discussion but not good enough, said Khor.

This was because developed countries had the infrastructure, technology, finance and human capacity to cut their emissions drastically while maintaining their high income levels if there is the political will, but developing countries do not have the capacity and economic level to do this.

The developed countries can come down to 2 tonnes per capita while maintaining their high GNP per capita income levels but developing countries would be locked into low per capita incomes, unless there is a massive transfer of finance and technology and capacity to help them to develop along a different growth path.

Hence, equity has two meanings - environmental equity and development equity, said Khor. The developing countries must have the equitable space to atmospheric resources so that with the very little "carbon space" left to them, they could still achieve adequate economic growth and development, and move towards the development level of the developed countries.

Dr. T. Jayaraman of TISS said that the two-day international conference was called to focus discussion on the carbon-budget perspective and the implications of this for the global climate negotiations and the domestic climate policies of developed and developing countries.

Dr. T. Jayaraman is leading a team of Indian researchers who have developed a model on the carbon budget approach that provides indicative strategies for a more equitable distribution of carbon space that can be achieved by the middle of the century. This model was presented at the two-day conference.

Dr. S. Parasuraman, the Director of TISS, said that the concept of equity in carbon space must be looked at within the broader context of development and economic growth as well as in the equitable distribution of resources. +