Climate Change: Uncertain stand

By R. Ramachandran

, by Frontline

India fails to extract emission cut commitments from Annex I countries in return for agreeing to the Durban Mandate at the climate talks.

INDIAN negotiators perhaps lost the wood for the trees at the two-week-long 17th Conference of the Parties (COP17) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Durban, South Africa, by agreeing to the text of the final decision. The key component of this decision – call it the Durban Mandate – is the launching of a new round of negotiations known as the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (DPEA) aimed at a new climate control agreement under the UNFCCC involving “all” countries.

The legal nature of this new agreement has been left undefined – it could be a protocol, another legal instrument, or “an agreed outcome with legal force”. The last phrase in quotes, whose meaning is not quite clear, was incorporated after prolonged wrangling as a compromise to India’s insistence on including “legal outcome” as the third option.

The exact form of this new agreement is to be developed by an Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action, which will begin work in the first half of 2012 itself. The body has been mandated by the decision to formalise the regime not later than 2015 so that it can be adopted at COP21 that year and brought into effect in 2020.

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