Copenhagen: Climate of Mistrust

Introduction

Two weeks of wrangling and grandstanding at the United Nations climate change conference ended with the “Copenhagen Accord”, which was a paper-thin cover-up of what was a near complete failure, though it does enable the process to move forward. These reflections on the climate negotiations first provide a brief encapsulation of events, followed by a discussion of the key negotiation issues that took centre stage. It then provides a political interpretation of the Copenhagen Accord and its future prospects. The reflections locate the process in the context of the larger, and unresolved tensions between the North and the South. The article concludes with an outline of what the Copenhagen experience suggests is needed in the Indian climate debate.

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Climate Politics in India: How can the Industrialised World Bridge the Trust Deficit?

In an ironic and to most Indians quite disturbing turn, India is increasingly portrayed as an obstructionist in the global climate negotiations. How did a country likely to be on the frontline of climate impacts – with a vast proportion of the world’s poor and a reasonably good record of energy-related environmental policy and performance – reach this diplomatic cul de sac? Part of the answer lies in the posturing of climate diplomats from India and industrialized countries. But looking beyond the cut and thrust of climate diplomacy, Indian climate policy and the reaction to it are a salutary case study in the failure to build North-South trust in the climate negotiations. Chapter published in ‘Indian Climate Policy: Choices and Challenges’.

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Climate Change and Development: A Bottom-Up Approach to Mitigation for Developing Countries

Introduction

A top-down approach – with internationally specified and binding national targets and timetables – has long been the preferred position of environmental advocates. But bottom-up approaches, such as policy measures to be devised on a country-by-country basis, have also been part of the policy grammar of the climate negotiations. For those who put climate change mitigation first (as opposed to those who seek to preserve sovereignty, or emphasize untrammeled economic growth), a focus on targets and timetables is an article of faith. This chapter in ‘Climate Finance: Regulatory and Funding Strategies for Climate Change and Global Development’ suggests that focusing in the short run on explicit caps (or the implicit caps of climate plans) for developing countries is a misguided policy. It will not produce predictability of future emissions from current baselines, and in the short to medium term may be misguided for environmental reasons. Top-down approaches risk creating counterproductive incentives, such as incentives to set overly high emissions targets or to avoid early action. They may, in practice reduce, rather than increase, the predictability of emissions levels and of emissions reductions against BAU baselines or meaningful targets. The paper argues that strengthening domestic institutions in developing countries is needed for successful low-carbon development.

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Environmentalism in the Age of Climate Change

Introduction

In this article, Dubash examines the tensions and challenges of Indian – and indeed Southern – environmentalism in an age of climate change. Like no other single issue, climate change has brought environmentalism into the political mainstream. Commerce and finance ministers increasingly register their presence at global environmental negotiations. Climate change is high up the agenda of mainstream global talk shops from the G-8 to Davos. In India, climate change has become a bone of foreign policy contention, and opinion columns are filled with climate commentaries, including by those who have demonstrated little interest in the subject before.

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