Saturday, December 26, 2009

China and India provide a glimpse of changing political climate in Copenhagen

Even before the much touted UFCCC had begun in Copenhagen, high level discussions had been taking place between China and India. While there were reports about the flurry of discussions, not many really grasped the significance of these encounters.

The world got a glimpse of the possible changes in the international political relationship that could significantly alter the prevailing world views.

Writing in the Business Standard, from Copenhagen, Pallavi Aiyar, noted on Dec 21, 2009,

Beyond the nitty-gritty of emission cuts and technology transfers, the broader significance of the two-week-long United Nations’ climate summit in Copenhagen lay in the manner in which it exemplified how the geostrategic contours of the 21st century are shifting.

These are contours in flux, not wholly settled but clearly discernable, nonetheless. The shaping and breaking of old and new alliances, and the multiple centres of power that the Copenhagen talks wound around, heralded the emergence of the kind of multipolar world that could have scarcely been imagined even a decade ago... ... ...

And in the end, the so-called ‘Copenhagen Accord’ that was the summit’s main outcome, was not the dreaded Danish draft by another name, but a US-BASIC (Brazil, South Africa, India, China) accord that surgically cut the Danish hosts of the conference right out of the final deal... ... ...

India’s strategy for the conference was to clearly pin its colours to the China mast. As Indian minister for environment Jairam Ramesh repeatedly boasted, India and China were meeting up to six times a day to coordinate their negotiating positions.

But while India may be part of BASIC, New Delhi would do well to keep it in mind that it is not part of the G2. It suited China well to have the backing of other emerging economies like India and Brazil in the context of the climate conference. Without this support, Beijing would have been isolated and found it considerably harder to position itself as the spokesperson for the developing world... ... ...

Whether or not the India-China strategic alliance on climate translates into any longer term partnership remains an open question. What is more clear is that the UN conference has demonstrated how the line diving the world into North and South, rich and poor, is no longer straightforward or even appropriate... ... ...

A few days earlier, in an earlier report, the same author had noted on Dec 16, 2009, that
India and China have gone into a huddle over the possible existence of a Danish text, which the rich nations may wield at the climate change talks.

“The Danish text does exist and we have information that the rich countries are going to go public with it,” China’s chief climate envoy Xie Zhenhua told environment minister Jairam Ramesh today at a closed-door meeting, to which Business Standard had exclusive access.

The Chinese envoy, who is also a Vice Chairman of China’s all-powerful National Development and Reform Commission, further told Ramesh that he had got information that Australia and the EU were planning to launch a surprise attack either late Tuesday evening or early Wednesday.

Ramesh, talking about the closeness between India and China at the negotiations, said the two sides were meeting up to six times a day... ... ...

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Economic growth is good for the world's climate

China and India have an opportunity to change the climate of negotiations, a week before the opening of the United Nations Conference on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Copenhagen. Continuing economic reforms have been making the economy more energy efficient. Irrespective of whether the planet is warming, or whether CO2 is the cause, between 1992 and 2007, the carbon intensity of the economies of the two Asian giants have declined between 40 (China) and 21% (India) based on the EIA data.

Between 1980 and 2007, the carbon intensity of the Indian economy declined by just 2.3%. But between 1992 and 2007, during the years when economic reforms gathered pace, the decline in carbon intensity has been over 21%.

China, for instance, heads the league of major economies with the highest decline in carbon intensity at 67%, between 1980 and 2007. Although, China’s carbon intensity is 40% more than India’s at present, China’s reforms process started much earlier, and run deeper, consequently it has experienced this magnitude of improvement in carbon intensity.

Globally, however, decarbonisation of the economy has been going on since the past 400 years, as societies moved from fuel wood, to coal, oil and electricity, driven by economic needs, leaving a safer environment in its wake.

No wonder, there is a lot to be gained if China and India take the lead and stand together at the UNFCCC meeting starting in Copenhagen, on Dec 7, 2009. Both the governments have had a number of consultations in preparation for Copenhagen.

For a more detailed discussion on the declining carbon intensity of the economy, you may like to see this note posted on Challenging Climate.