Cancun talks may bring in no accord
The climate conference in Mexico this year may not witness any legal accord on cutting greenhouse gases or fund commitment for the countries vulnerable to climate change impacts, two leading climate change experts said yesterday.
The vulnerable countries, however, will get good funding from the $30 billion adaptation fund, pledged by the developed nations in the climate summit in Copenhagen, December last year, provided that the modalities of disbursement and expenditure are fixed, they said.
They talked to The Daily Star on the sidelines of the two-day Asian conference on Global Climate Change Alliance that began in Dhaka Sheraton Hotel in the capital yesterday.
“The first reason why we cannot expect a legal treaty in Cancun is because we are dependent on the US. It is not agreeing yet. There will be no legally binding agreement unless US agrees,” said Dr Saleemul Huq, senior fellow of Climate Change Group of the International Institute for Environment and Development, UK.
Referring to US President Obama, he said the US will not sign any international treaty without domestic legislation in this regard. The US domestic legislation has been placed in the Senate. If that gets nod before Cancun conference, there is a possibility for a legal accord.
“However, there is little possibility for the legislation getting passed before Cancun,” he said.
If the US does not agree, other countries are very unlikely to sign a legal treaty, Huq said, adding that the tendency of other countries is: if the largest polluter does not agree, why the others would do.
Asked on the stance of European Union, he said it is trying to play a progressive role. However, it alone cannot do everything because of the countries like the US, China, India and others.
“It is a wrong conception that other countries would not move unless the US moves. They should come forward voluntarily,” to cut emission, because climate change is already causing huge damage.
“Delayed actions will only intensify the damage to the poor countries like Bangladesh," Huq said, adding that there is a principle known as “common, but differentiated” that means, the rich countries who created the problem should come forward first to address it.
“But, after 20 years, the problem is so deep as there is a tendency--if others are not doing it, I will not do it. When we start changing, others will change their attitude,” he said.
Dr Ainun Nishat, Vice Chancellor of Brac University, said the climate negotiations are going through a hugely complicated process where different countries have their own interests and all those need to be fine-tuned before they sign a legal document.
For example, the EU says there is no problem if Copenhagen Accord is considered as a basis for next actions, but China and G-77 countries say that they are not with the EU, said Nishat.
Again, there are some countries like Cuba and Venezuela who always oppose the US, so this is very complicated, he said adding that it may take two to three more years to come up with a legal document on mitigation and adaptation.
However, Nishat said, the fund will be coming. The question now is if the countries, which will be receiving money, can make the best use of it. “We must be prepared to get the fund,” he said, adding that Bangladesh is ready for that, while other least developed countries are not.