On the eve of the global climate gathering in Cancún, it is highly unlikely any agreement or framework for replacing the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012, will be reached. Nevertheless, India is positioning itself as a bridge between the developed and developing countries in the talks. Some of the main issues to be tackled are finance, technology transfer, forestry, and adaptation. India’s Environment Minister, Jairam Ramesh, has said that things on which a agreement is expected are establishment of a green fund, agreement on meeting adaptation needs, and endorsement of Redd (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation).
Ramesh talks candidly and pulls no punches. I respect his positions and find him tough and refreshingly honest about the problems facing India and the world. He pushes for environmental compliance amongst Indian industries and has created domestic environmental courts where citizens can bring complaints over lack of enforcement of environmental laws.
And Ramesh is not afraid to talk back to the country with the biggest carbon footprint. Speaking with reporters about promised U.S. financing of climate mitigation measures, he said “For 2010, the total contribution from the U.S., the world’s richest country and the world’s largest historical emitter…, the total contribution of the U.S. to the fast-start finance is roughly $1.8 billion, of which $400 million is export credit alone. It’s a laughable number.” But obviously U.S. involvement is key to negotiations, thus the Indian proposal to be a bridge. To quote Ramesh once again, “it’s time to find a middle ground if we need to get a set of a meaningful agreements.”
There will be no shortage of serious issues to discuss and to try to come to agreement on how to cope with the biggest crisis facing the planet. The Guardian reported today that a special report by British scientists, to be released at the start of the negotiations in Cancún, will reveal that up to a billion people face losing their homes in the next 90 years because of failures to agree to curbs on carbon emissions.
Let’s hope that Ramesh is successful in moving countries to that middle ground.
(photo credit: topnews.in)