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SUBODH GAUTAM



The U.S. President Barrack Obama told Bangladesh's Prime Minister Shiekh Hasina: "You will no longer receive foreign aid." The language used by Obama was perhaps not blunt to this extent. However, he was categorical in what he told
Hasina on the sidelines of the
Copenhagen conference last year. It was
exposed by Shyam Sharan, who attended the conference as the then special envoy
of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for climate change, in a recent
workshop held for journalists from across
South Asia. Sharan told journalists how
Obama warned heads of developing countries of aid cut when they pressurized the
U.S. to sign the Kyoto protocol.



Center for Science and Environment (CSE), a New Delhi based NGO active in conservation sector, had invited journalists from all South Asian countries to expose American perspective and Indian concern vis-à-vis climate change. The U.S. government's high-handedness in
the conflict between the developed and developing countries with regard to climate
change was not something unheard of, however, what Sharan told us evidently
established our presumption. And, it was not just
Bangladesh. The message Obama conveyed to
all developing countries suffering the effects of climate change, arguably
caused by developed countries including the U.S, was clear: "Keep quiet, if you want to receive more
foreign aid from us."



The precondition put forward by Obama was clear: the Kyoto protocol should be scrapped in the first place and a new convention, lenient toward the developed countries that mostly emit carbon, be put in place. Only then will the US continue with its support to
developing countries in their fights against the effects of climate change.
India and China, along with other countries, have
been piling pressure on the
US to endorse the Kyoto protocol. They are of the view
that only the endorsement of the
Kyoto protocol by the US will help introduce compulsory
laws against pollution.



Shyam Sharan has expressed his premonition that the COP-16 conference, which kicked off in Cancun of Mexico on December 1, will yield no significant result owing mainly to the US's rigid stance. Sharan alone does
not think so in
India. After all, he was invited in the
workshop to put forward
India's official view on issues related
to climate change. The
US always gets irritated whenever
some country raises the issue of managing carbon dioxide gas gathered in atmosphere
for over the past two decades. The
US has long been brushing aside the
issue of managing carbon emitted by it before the world woke up to the serious
threat posed by climate change. Instead, the
US wants to contribute only in
managing carbon being emitted at present. And, this is too in proportion of
carbon it emits.



India and China, among other various countries, have been criticizing the US policy. In order to become the superpower in the world, the US had brought about industrial
revolution many years ago. As a consequence of this, an alarmingly large amount
of carbon dioxide gathered in the atmosphere. And, the entire world, not the
US alone, has had to bear the brunt
of climate change caused by excessive carbon emission. Mostly, developing
countries have suffered the impact of climate change.



If strict measures to cut carbon emission are not seriously put in place right now, the impact of climate change will be huge; and it will soon spiral out of control. This is what the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate
Change (IPCC) says. In its report submitted to the secretariat of United
Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)-Kyoto Protocol, the
IPCC has recommended that the greenhouse gas gathered in atmosphere since 1990
should be reduced by 40-45 per cent. This has turned out to be a headache to
the
US. The US says the world should focus on
controlling carbon emission in the years to come. On the contrary, the greatest
worry of scientists across the world is the previously emitted carbon gas.



The Kyoto Protocol aims to reduce the total carbon emission of 1990 by 5.2 per cent until 2012. The US, arguably the major contributor to carbon emission, has yet not signed the protocol; and less likely to do so
even in future, given what it has been asserting all these years. As the
protocol is not a compulsory law, a question arises: how does the portion of
carbon emitted by the
US get reduced? The US's stance has scared other
developing countries.



"The US has already developed itself by emitting as much carbon as it could. Now, the US wants us to not emit carbon," Sunita Narain, Director of CSE, said. "The US has been cheating on us. It has
always refused to sign the protocol by flexing its financial muscle."
Linking carbon gas emission with the country's economy and trade, she said,
"This is why the
US is indifferent to this issue."
According to the CSE, the amount of carbon emitted by the
US from 1980 to 2006 is double than China and seven times higher than India's emission. However, let alone
endorsing the Kyoto Protocol, the
US is not ready even to amend the
convention which the protocol is a part of.



In the COP-15, G-77, a group of 77 developing countries in the United Nation (UN), China and Least Developed Countries (LDCs) had stressed on the continuity of the Kyoto Protocol and Long Term
Cooperative Action. However, developed countries including the
US stood in opposition of the Kyoto
Protocol. The
Cancun summit, a follow up to the COP-15, will not be an exception. The
US expressed its commitment to cut the greenhouse gas
by 17 per cent till 2020. However, developing countries view it as merely a
political commitment, which does not necessarily come into implementation.



Developing and least-developed countries want a certain portion (1.5 per cent) of Gross Domestic Products (GDPs) from developed countries. Developed countries rejected there demands outright in the COP-15. Obama appeared a little bit
generous. He expressed his commitment to donate a certain percentage of
America's GDP, albeit not on par with
developing countries' demand, for climate change. Again, Obama's commitment is
political in its nature. His successors need not necessarily follow the suit.
Hence, the signing of the protocol is a must.



The effects of climate change can not be done away with so long as the US does not change its policy of warning developing countries rather than signing the Kyoto Protocol. Let alone
the
Cancun conference, no summit on climate
change will succeed as long as the
US policy continues. Hence, the ball
is in the American court.

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Comment by Subodh Gautam on December 9, 2010 at 11:18
This article published on Republica National Daily and www.myrepublica.com on december 8, 2010.

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