20 December 2009


The 'historic' Copenhagen conference ended after two weeks of dead-lock with a haphazard all-nighter resulting in an unfinished assignment. Remind you of college anyone? The last-minute agreement which is the Copenhagen Accord has been praised by China, currently the biggest carbon emitter. No prizes for guessing why: the agreement is nonbinding, which encourages major polluters to make deeper emission cuts but does not require it. If memory serves right, thats what happened the last time with Kyoto!

The only silver-ish lining in this whole debacle is that the rich countries have pledged $100 billion a year by 2020 in aid to poor countries in order to implement green technologies. This pledge spear-headed by America already generates several doubts, chiefly - in the midst of a financial crisis, where can they get this money to simply give away?

Whilst several countries have made declarations of internal emission cuts, none of them are legally binding. Developed nations may already have the infrastructure in place in order to commit to these emission cuts. However developing countries even India and large parts of China have no infrastructure in place to deal with rapid development and growth that they foresee - with no legal measures in place, where will responsibility towards the commons come from?

The good guys and the bad guys have not changed one bit and this is disheartening to note. The United States and China are the biggest emitters and they have somehow managed to walk away without any legal bindings in spite of pressure from Japan and the EU. India's over-ambitious plans have no bearing without solid directions for their enforcement.

Inter governmental negotiations are complex as admitted by several delegates and many have expressed disappointment at the current outcome. Many others are hopeful that this is the first step towards the goal of a legally binding treaty. Lack of accountability makes environmental processes haphazard either within international or national jurisdiction. This is further reinforced by the lack of transparency on the part of governing agencies.

Quoting UN Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon it is a "significant first step" although he admitted that, "much was left to be done"

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