Stance shift behind Durban Platform of Enhanced Action

Written by Kirtika Suneja | Updated: Dec 13 2011, 08:49am hrs
From the three non negotiables of equity, unilateral trade measures and IPR, New Delhis position at the climate talks in Durban changed to accepting an agreement which legally binds all countries to take on emission reduction targets.

Not only India, but many countries like Canada, Russia and Japan, which were opposed to recommitting to the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol have done so and also agreed to another Kyoto like mechanism post 2020. The positive movement at Durban was clearly due to a shift in the stance of all major negotiators and polluters. Indias position showed that it was accommodating despite criticism from all quarters for following a hardline approach.

It was this shift that urged to US to accept all countries coming under the same legally enforcing framework when it initially was not in favour of such an architecture. It was Indias move which made the worlds second largest emitter- the US accept the treaty. Ironically, the US is still not a signatory to the protocol whose first commitment period ends in 2012.

As for another important negotiating bloc the European Union which did not change its stance but said it would renew its vows, but only if major emitters including the US and China would commit to forging a new climate deal by 2015. Speaking about the Durban deal Connie Hedegaard, European commissioner for climate action said on Monday, EUs strategy worked. When many parties after Cancun said that Durban could only implement decisions taken in Copenhagen and Cancun, the EU wanted more ambition. And got more. We would not take a new Kyoto period unless we got in return a roadmap for the future where all countries must commit.

However, the push for all the major emitters of green house gases to join hands came from around 85 of the worlds most vulnerable nations and the Alliance of Small Island States (Aosis) which united to form an alliance to lobby for a new global pact.The coalition, spanning some of the worlds richest and poorest countries, sought to push the US, China and India into accepting a mandate for a new accord embracing all major carbon emitters.

A joint statement from the three blocs called for a new round of pledges under the Kyoto Protocol and a robust mandate and roadmap for a legally binding instrument. The Aosis and the least developed countries had alligned with India till the Copenhagen talks in 2009. This is what experts call the turning point of the negotiations.

India led by Jayanthi Natarajan had her way in getting the basic tenet of equity being included in the long term action of what was decided as part of the Durban Platform of Enhanced Action. Under the long term convention, all will take urgent action to the increase in global average temperature below 2 C above preindustrial levels, on the basis of equity.

Moreover, the talks also changed the worlds view about New Delhi which was being positioned as a deal breaker.

Another positive that came from the talks were that we were able to push the formation of a new legal instrument by 2020 which till last year after the Cancun talks was fixed for 2015. Also, recommitment to the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol is an achievement, the expert added.