emission cap can help resolve climate impasse: UNEP chief
By Joydeep Gupta
New Delhi, Feb 7 (IANS) A "voluntary signal" from
India on where and when it will cap its greenhouse gas emissions
can help resolve the current impasse holding up a global deal
to combat climate change, says UN Environment Programme chief
"It is in India's own interest to make the transition
to a low-carbon economy," Steiner, the UN under secretary-general
and UNEP executive director, told IANS in an interview here.
"It makes perfect economic rationale.
"In that process, if India brings to the international
negotiations table voluntary signals on the level at which
it will cap its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, it will greatly
help resolve the impasse on the road to Copenhagen."
Steiner was referring to negotiations for a new global treaty
that should be finalised during the next climate summit to
be hosted in Copenhagen this December. Negotiations have been
stalled by the insistence of industrialised countries, led
by the US, that emerging economies like India and China commit
themselves to a cap in emissions of GHGs - mainly carbon dioxide
- that are leading to climate change.
Most developing countries, including India, have so far refused
to set a cap on their GHG emissions, saying it would be unjust,
as almost all the extra GHG in the atmosphere today has been
put there by industrialised countries.
In response, industrialised countries point out that India
is already the world's fourth largest GHG emitter. Climate
change caused by excess GHGs is lowering farm output, making
droughts, floods and storms more frequent and more severe,
and raising the sea level.
Steiner said: "India is in a wonderful position to take
advantage of the global green new deal that can get the world
out of financial and climate crises at the same time. For
its own energy security, it is in India's interest to reduce
dependence on fossil fuels."
In the process, Steiner said, "If India sets (GHG emission
cap) targets for itself at some future date, it will create
very interesting pressure" on industrialised countries.
The UNEP head was optimistic about a new global climate deal
being found at the Copenhagen summit. Asked if industrialised
countries would commit to reduce their GHG emissions 25-40
percent as asked for by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate
Change, he said: "Remember, Germany is already committing
to 40 percent cuts."
"Look out for a major climate change bill in the US in
the next 100 days," Steiner predicted, though he was
not so sure if the bill would pass the US congress.
Still, "we're seeing significant movement on an unprecedented
Steiner agreed that financial help from industrialised to
developing countries to cope with the effects of climate change
as well as reducing their GHG emissions was essential for
a successful treaty in Copenhagen.
"The public financing needed (to combat climate change)
is $150 billion per year, which will trigger private investment
of $2 trillion."
The UNEP head was here to attend the Feb 5-7 Delhi Sustainable
Development Summit (DSDS), where he told a session Friday:
"$150 billion a year is nothing compared to the trillions
we are now spending to save our bacon", referring to
the bailouts in response to the financial crisis.
"An additional $10 per barrel of oil will generate $180
billion per year," Steiner told the 800-odd delegates
gathered for DSDS.
"If Copenhagen fails, it will be the biggest abdication
of political leadership the world has ever seen."
(Joydeep Gupta can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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