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The G-8 and India's National Action Plan on Climate Change

The Hokkaido communique on climate change of the Group of Eight countries does not lay down targets for emissions reductions in the developed countries. Yet the G-8 asks developing countries to take more meaningful mitigation actions. How does India's new national action plan propose to deal with climate change and how is it different from the approach being suggested by the G-8?

COMMENTARYEconomic & Political Weekly EPW july 19, 200817sensitive industrial tariff lines in textiles, fish items, leather products through non- reciprocal preferences. Finally, the princi-ple of “less than full reciprocity” (LTFR) which is a cardinal requirement agreed to in the July 2004 framework agreement is being made to stand on its head. Under the LTFR principle, the industrialised countries are required to take on bigger commitments than the developing countries. But thanks to the efforts of Lamy and his partners, the LTFR is more or less buried for all practical purposes. One-sided DealIn short, the balance between the commit-ments in Doha agriculture and NAMA is definitely tilted in favour of industrialised countries as members move towards a deal over the next week. Whether they would get there by the end of next week is still an open issue. It would largely depend on how desperate the US is committed to an agreement which it is anyway getting for free without making any difficult com-mitments either in agriculture orNAMA. Much would also depend on what the final provision on anti-concentration will be. This is a must for the German industry and Germany’s chancellor Angela Merkel. If the developing countries manage to block a robust anti-concentration provision, the German chancellor would not think twice of joining the French president Nicholas Sarcozy in blocking a modalities agreement in agriculture. How can the Manmohan Singh govern-ment possibly sell the agreement at a time when its image has been badly tainted because of its proximity with the Bush administration? The government has very little to show in terms of actual gains in either agriculture orNAMA barring some flexibilities for addressing its defensive concerns in agriculture. Manmohan Singh and the UPA govern-ment are strangely very keen on pleasing the Bush administration at a time when the elections are round the corner. But then given their enthusiasm to embrace theUS on the nuclear issue, it should not be a surprise that a similar process has been going on at the WTO.If theUPA government goes all the way at Geneva this week, India will pay dearly in a supposedly “development round” and it will find that it has secured few credible gains in areas of its offensive interest such as the short-term movement of services providers in Mode 4 or even cross-border services in Mode 1 of the services negotia-tions. All this is largely due to the pro-mises prime minister Manmohan Singh seems to have made to “India’s good friend” president George Bush over the last several months – that India will make a positive contribution to an agreement on theDDA at Geneva.[Readers can post their comments on this article in the blog section of the EPW web site. The blog will be open until July 29.]The G-8 and India’s National Action Plan on Climate Change Mukul SanwalThe Hokkaido communique on climate change of the Group of Eight countries does not lay down targets for emissions reductions in the developed countries. Yet theG-8 asks developing countries to take more meaningful mitigation actions. How does India’s new national action plan propose to deal with climate change and how is it different from the approach being suggested by the G-8? The summit last week of theG-8 at Hokkaido, Japan, deliberated on, among other items, climate change. The focus of the deliberations was not on how to make the transition to a low carbon economy, but on what deve-lopingcountries should do to share the burden even at the cost of their own economic growth.The summit is important because for the first time we have two communiqué, negotiated at the heads of state level, laying out the positions of the developed and developing countries. There is no longer one vision on how to deal with climate change. The developing countries now have the capacity to reject any frame-work that seeks to shift the burden onto them and have laid out their own vision for sustainable development.The communiqué issued by the G-8 on July 8 stated: ...seeks to share with all Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) the vision of, and together with them to consider and adopt in the UNFCCC negotiations, the goal of achieving at least 50 per cent reduction of global emis-sions by 2050, recognising that this global challenge can only be met by a global response…in ways that will enable us to meet our sustainable economic development and energy security objectives…all major economies will need to commit to meaning-ful mitigation actions to be bound in the international agreement to be negotiated by the end of 2009.It is important to note that the reference is to a “goal”, which is defined as an aim or desired result. A target would be an objec-tive or result towards which efforts are directed. In the framework convention on climate change, negotiated in 1992, all de-veloped countries had agreed to the “aim” of reducing their emissions by the end of the century to 1990 levels. In the Kyoto Protocol emissions reductions were agreed, but only up to 2012. The commu-niqué just agreed upon does not specify the year from which the further reduction would be measured. Despite the lack of any demonstrable progress in reducing emissions so far, or commitment to reduce developed country emissions in the Mukul Sanwal (sanwals@gmail.com) has worked with the government of India, the UnitedNations Environment Programme and in the United Nations Climate Change Secretariat.

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