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Copenhagen Summit: Climate Change Debate

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  • November 13, 2009
    Fellows' Seminar
    Only by Invitation
    1030 to 1300 hrs

    Amb. Rajagopalan chaired the session while Mr. Mukul Sanwal and Mr. V. Raghuraman were external discussants and Avinash Godbole and Antoine Levesques were internal discussants.

    Dr. Uttam Sinha highlighted the core points of the present state of the global Climate Change debate. Developed and developing countries have contrasting priorities about climate change and development. Therefore, until a common understanding of the framework on emission reductions is developed, it is difficult to reach an agreement that is acceptable to all. Equity is the key to reach a common action agenda on climate change. Climate change negotiations have lacked transparency, trust building and strong leadership. The grand deal will be about financial commitments and technology. However, there have been no firm commitments in this regard. The Obama initiative is unlikely to be approved by the US Senate due to business interests. In India, there is some opinion that favours mitigation in the national interest, but other sections favour a wait and watch policy. India has taken a stand on moral grounds and its negotiating position is based on per capita emissions which state that emissions will not cross the levels of the developed world. Various interest groups comprising nations with different interests have emerged leading to Copenhagen. The general response of various states to the climate change debate is based on their developmental objectives and security interests.


    • India need not be apologetic about its requirements for development.
    • The US has taken the stance of putting its national interest ahead of global needs. Notwithstanding the criticism directed at Washington, the US has stuck to its stand.
    • Some of the scientific literature on climate change is inadequate and thus biased against India and China.
    • Assessments based on biased research can be conflicting. Therefore, India needs to take up its own research on climate change in critical areas like glacial melting. Consumerism in the US will have to be controlled for action on climate change. Otherwise US’ cuts in emissions will be superficial.
    • There is no quick fix technology available as of now for solutions to climate change, so India should not give in, based on commitments of technology transfer. India can take gradual mitigation actions that help in the development process. Reducing energy intensity of urban areas can be an important step. Available energy is more evenly distributed to needy sectors of Indian society. Mitigation actions will also help in reducing the adaptive costs of climate change in the future