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02 December 2011

Climatic Crimes: Durban Talks to Halt Climate Change?

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By Dr. Abdul Ruff

Green gas emissions cause devastating change in climatic h behavior, negatively affecting the lives on the earth. USA, China and India are the leading climatic criminal states guilty of serious climatic crimes against humanity over years. The GST wars initiated by global state terrorist nations under the banner of NATO terror syndicate led by USA-UK terror twins have further accelerated the process of climatic change.

G20 keeps meeting at various places discuss the issue and disperse but they conclude secret arms-deals as well as on economic-military contribution for the ongoing illegal terror wars in Islamic world on fake pretexts.

But the climatic behavior continues to be atrocious day by day.

Once again, perhaps as a mere formality, the delegates from over 190 countries are in Durban for a two-week conference beginning on 28 November. They hope to break deadlocks on how to curb emissions of carbon dioxide and other pollutants.

Climate change will be a central theme for the 20,000 national officials, lobbyists, scientists and advocates gathering under U.N. auspices in the coastal city of Durban on Nov. 28. Their two weeks of negotiations will end with a meeting of government ministers from more than 100 countries.

The immediate focus is the Kyoto Protocol, the 1997 agreement requiring 37 industrialized countries to slash carbon emissions to 5 percent below 1990 levels by 2012. Each country has a binding target and faces penalties for falling short. The U.S., then and now the world's largest polluter per capita, refused to join Kyoto because it imposed no obligations on countries like China, which has since surpassed the U.S. in overall emissions. Now, with the Kyoto pact's expiry date looming, poor countries want the signatories to accept further reductions in a second commitment period up to at least 2017. "The Kyoto Protocol is a cornerstone of the climate change regime," and a second commitment period "is the central priority for Durban," says Jorge Arguello of Argentina, the chairman of the developing countries' negotiating bloc known as G77 plus China.

As delegates gather in South Africa to plot the next “big push” against climate change, Western regimes are saying it's time to move beyond traditional distinctions between industrial and developing countries and get China and other growing economies to accept legally binding curbs on greenhouse gases. But with growing consensus, wealthy countries are saying they cannot give further pledges unless all others — or at least the major developing countries — accept commitments themselves that are equally binding.

The division of the globe into two unequal parts was embedded in the first climate convention adopted in 1992. At that time China was struggling to liberalize its economy, India was just opening its borders to international commerce, South Africa was breaking out of the apartheid era, and Brazil — the host of the Earth Summit where the convention was adopted — was an economic shambles with inflation topping 1,100 percent that year.

It's an old debate that has been intensifying with the rapid growth of economies like those of China, India and some in Latin America and the wealth as well as high carbon emissions they generate.

Christiana Figueres, head of the UN climate secretariat says she expects governments to make a long-delayed decision on whether industrial countries should make further commitments to reduce emissions of climate-changing greenhouse gases. She says that "it's a tall order for governments to face this," but that they show no interest in yet another delay and a decision on extending emission reduction commitments under the 1997 Kyoto Protocol has been postponed for two years. Previous commitments expire next year.

The European Union is bringing a proposal to Durban calling for a timetable for everyone to make these commitments by 2015. Separately, Norway and Australia set out a six-page proposal for all governments to adopt a phased process of scaling down emissions. Japan, Canada and Russia, three key countries in the Kyoto deal, announced last year they will not sign up to a second commitment period. Russia has submitted a proposal calling for a review and periodic amendments to the criteria for being judged rich or poor under Kyoto's legal prescriptions.

The European commissioner on climate policies Connie Hedegaard said they need to discuss whether they can continue to divide the world in the traditional thinking of the North and the South, where the North has to commit to a binding form whereas the South will only have to commit in a voluntary form. The EU dismisses the poor countries' argument that, "you created the problem, now you fix it." Hedegaard says the EU is responsible for just 11 percent of global emissions, and it can't solve global warming without the help of those emitting the other 89 percent.

The industrial countries — the US chief among them — have long questioned whether those definitions of rich and poor, drawn up 20 years ago, should still apply. That was one reason why the US backed out of the Kyoto Protocol. America says it is a world leader in producing wind and solar energy as well and has closed thousands of outdated and heavily polluting power plants, replacing many with cleaner-burning coal plants. USA claims that its fuel efficiency standard already surpasses the 35 miles per gallon (14.7 kilometers per liter) for passenger cars that the US regime hopes to reach in 2016. And so the stalemate continues leading up to Durban.

China, the world's top greenhouse gas emitter, said it would push at the climate talks for an extension of the Kyoto Protocol, which requires rich nations to reduce their emissions. Beijing's top climate negotiator Xie Zhenhua also called on wealthy nations to hammer out a funding mechanism to help developing countries implement efforts to address global warming at the Durban meeting. But he said China would only take on commitments "appropriate to our stage of development", reiterating Beijing's long-held view that poorer countries should not be required to make binding commitments on emissions.

China has always said that developed nations, with their long history of industrialization, should take responsibility for climate change. Developed nations... must according to the Kyoto Protocol commit to a first commitment period and a second commitment period on reduction targets. "Developing nations, after receiving funds and technology, should adopt active amelioration actions."

Canada, Japan and Russia have already refused to sign on for a second commitment period, objecting to the lack of legal constraints on the world's biggest carbon polluters. But the lack of binding constraints over emerging economies like China and India and the refusal of the United States to join the protocol have gravely weakened efforts to address the issue, especially after the near collapse of climate talks in Copenhagen in 2009.

China perhaps is doing all it could, and had in 2009 committed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions per unit of gross national product by between 40 and 45 percent by 2020 compared with 2005 emissions.

Europe says it can accept a continuation, provided China and the US show they are serious about major cuts in the coming years. "There is a view from the international community that China is the number one emitter of carbon dioxide and its emissions are growing rapidly," Xie said, referring to the main greenhouse gas that causes global warming. "This assessment is correct, China's current emissions of greenhouse gases are very huge, and the increase is very rapid. This is a fact." But he conceded that China's overall emissions would increase during the period to 2020 and China is adopting active measures to reduce the speed of increase of greenhouse gases in an effort to reach a peak of carbon dioxide emissions at an early date. He refused to predict when China's greenhouse gas emissions would peak.

The first commitment period expires at the end of 2012. The emission-reduction plan for developed countries in the second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol should be made clear as soon as possible.

Some Observations

USA, China and India are the top nations guilty of emissions causing speedy change in climatic conditions. Despite their swelling national bank accounts, China, India, South Africa and others say they are still battling poverty and that tens of millions of their people lack electricity or running water. To accept legal equality with wealthy countries would jeopardize their status as developing societies — even though few countries are doing more than China to rein in the growth of their emissions.

Everyone agrees that the few wealthy nations have the primary responsibility for reducing carbon emissions, since it was their industries that pumped carbon dioxide into the atmosphere for 200 years. Climate scientists say the accumulation of CO2 traps the Earth's heat, is already changing some weather patterns and agricultural conditions, and is heightening risks of devastating sea level rise.

Serious discussions are going on behind the scenes over the European timetable plan, although it was not clear this week if an agreement was possible in Durban. China privately is showing more flexibility than in public. Christiana Figueres says the North-South divide over historical responsibility still has more weight than the forward-looking approach of respective capabilities. If no deal can be concluded, Figueres said last month, a patchwork of interim arrangements may be needed to keep negotiations alive.

World leaders would assemble, talks, eat and drink heavily even during the deliberations, take group photos, shake their dirty hands and disperse.

Unfortunately, the world leaders have not really felt the urgency to arrest the impending climactic disaster by undertaking steps to contain the emissions to the atmosphere. Nor do they realize their criminal folly in escalating illegal wars in Islamic world for energy resources which in tun have further crippled the climatic conditions.

[Dr. Abdul Ruff is Specialist on State Terrorism. He is Chancellor-Founder of Center for International Affairs (CIA). He is former university Teacher, Analyst in International Affairs and an Expert on Middle East. He can be contacted at abdulruff@ymail.com]

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