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Climate Talks: Countries Looking to Kick UN Out Must Ensure a Scientifically Sound Treaty

Nicolas Sarkozy attends COP15 UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen

Both United States and European Union are considering to limit United Nations role in international climate negotiations as the results of the Copenhagen meeting and the discussions which preceded the summit. But they must ensure that with concentrated negotiations must also consider the scientific facts which call for an urgent action to reduce carbon emissions.

The UN ‘Drag’


European Union would push for climate negotiations through the G20 which comprises of developed and advanced developing countries who are the centre of the controversial Copenhagen Accord. Many experts feel that the core issues, which would eventually determine the succes or success of the implementation of the next climate treaty, like trade issues, transfer of clean technology, financial assistance etc. should be discussed at smaller and more concentrated forums like the G20.

The problem faced at the COP15 was that even though the negotiators had discussed the basic issues related to the climate treaty in a series of meeting before the climate meet in Copenhagen, the negotiators failed to reach a consensus on those issues. A plethora of drafts complied by various groups of countries were tabled at the meeting however, most countries were unaware about the fine print of these drafts which led to a slew of accusations between developed and developing countries and suspension of talks on several occasions.

The failure to reach an comprehensive agreement at Copenhagen can be attributed to the lackluster negotiations process. It is unfortunate that even after a series of discussion rounds the countries failed to reach to a consensus.

Science Forgotten?

Another issue on which the negotiators failed to fulfill expectations was the lack of scientific basis to the agreement. After spending billions of dollars for the research on global warming and mitigation of climate change through the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the recommendations and warning were ignored completely.

According to the IPCC, global carbon emissions should be reduced by 25-40% by 2020 from 1990 levels. Only a handful of the developed countries announced emission reduction targets close to IPCC’s recommendation, while others fiddled with the base year for emissions measurements in order to sit their own interests.

While Tuvalu’s proposal was ambitious and took into consideration the scientific basis to support the demand of strict mitigation measures from the developed and developing countries but it proved to be quite revolutionary for the negotiators to agree upon. The negotiators need to reconsider the Tuvalu proposal and work out a similar draft for the climate treaty.

Last week the IPCC Chairman, Dr. R K Pachauri, while delivering a lecture as part of an academic program, expressed his disappointment over the ignorance demonstrated by the world leaders for his opening speech at the Copenhagen summit. Dr. Pachauri said that while he tried to highlight the dangers of inaction the negotiators took no interest of his warnings and appeals to take concrete mitigation measures.

The world leaders need to take swift and concentrated action, both on the international as well as domestic front. Developed and developing countries to present clear mandates to act against rising carbon emissions in order to build the much needed trust and and demonstrate the sense of commitment. Issues of monitoring and verification, technology transfer and handling of adaptation funds must be sorted out at the earliest. But the most important aspect they need to include this time in their discussion is the science that would form the foundations of the new climate treaty.

Image Credit: Newscom (via PicApp)

The views presented in the above article are author’s personal views and do not represent those of TERI/TERI University where the author is currently pursuing a Master’s degree.

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Written By

Mridul currently works as Head-News & Data at Climate Connect Limited, a market research and analytics firm in the renewable energy and carbon markets domain. He earned his Master’s in Technology degree from The Energy & Resources Institute in Renewable Energy Engineering and Management. He also has a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Engineering. Mridul has a keen interest in renewable energy sector in India and emerging carbon markets like China and Australia.


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