Saturday, Nov 02, 2002
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By P. Sunderarajan
The success was reflected in the `Delhi Declaration' that was adopted at the end of the United Nations Conference on Climate Change here. The developing countries unitedly rejected attempts to include in the document at least some words that legally bind them to take measures to help cut down on the levels of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions into the atmosphere.
Instead, it emphatically reiterated the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities of the countries in meeting the challenges of climate change, taking into account their priorities, objectives and socio-economic circumstances.
During the 10 days of the conference, as also during the negotiations on the document, the developed world had been insisting on some more commitments. At some point, there were apprehensions that they may succeed in their endeavour through a split in the unity of the developing world. It was feared that small island nations, which were the most vulnerable to the adverse impact of climate change in the form of a rise in the sea level, might back the demands of the developing countries. But, at the end, they threw in their lot with the rest of the developing world.
The Delhi Declaration is also noteworthy for its emphasis on the need for the United States, Russia and other developed countries, which are yet to ratify the Kyoto Protocol on reduction of GHG emissions, to do so at the earliest. While the U.S., which emits the maximum quantum of the gases, has been refusing to ratify the Protocol on the ground that doing so would harm its economy and, consequently, that of the world as a whole, Russia has been dilly-dallying on the issue of ratification.
At the World Summit on Sustainable Development held at Johannesburg two months ago, it had sent out signals that it would ratify the Protocol soon. But, since then, it seems to have changed tack and, a few days ago, indicated that it was not in a hurry to do so.
The document is also noteworthy for its emphasis on the need to promote renewable energy sources. The European Union as a bloc had been stressing on this aspect as a means to cut down on the GHG emissions.
Thanking the over 170 countries, which attended the meet, for coming out with a "balanced" Delhi Declaration, the Union Environment Minister and president of the conference, T.R. Baalu, expressed the hope that it would mark a new approach to the issue of climate change.
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