66 days to go and the heat is being turned up on America and other industrialised nations in the pre-Copenhagen talks.
Less than 24 hours after Democrats announced their plans for a climate bill in the Senate, the initiative was dismissed by the Indians.
In quite undiplomatic language, India has dismissed the Senate efforts to combat climate change as “measly”. The Indian environment minister, Jairam Ramesh, has said that Obama’s administration must do more or risk failure in Copenhagen.
The rift exposes the growing gap between what the poor countries want the rich to deliver and what the rich will actually sign up to.
If people were looking for progress at the Bangkok climate talks where the industrialised rich countries started promising big cuts they will be disappointed.
Yvo de Boer, the head of the UNFCCC has just given a press conference stating that “progress towards higher industrialised world emission cuts remains disappointing. We are not seeking real advances there”. That is Diplomatic speak for the talks being a total disaster.
And here’s the rub of the deal: India – like other major developing countries – is demanding that rich countries pledge cuts of 25% to 40% compared to 1990 levels.
This is just not going to happen though. The American Senate bill only proposes to cut emissions by 20% by 2020, compared to 2005 levels, a move described as “really only a measly 5% reduction on 1990 levels,” by Ramesh yesterday.
The second growing gap between the two sides is over timelines. India and the others want action by 2020. The rich want to delay until 2050. “If we are serious about climate change we should stop talking about 2050. I laugh when countries put up numbers for 2050,” Ramesh said.
However Todd Stern, Obama’s chief negotiator said that such a narrow focus on 2020 actions could wreck the prospects of reaching a deal at Copenhagen.
The third one is over binding limits. India now says it will “walk out of Copenhagen if binding emissions are insisted upon”.