Copenhagen, Hopenhagen or Hopelesshagen?
Copenhagen is right now the focal point of the “bipolar” world. The Good Earth of Pearl S. Buck still has two poles with snowcaps though in the process of melting due to heat between the haves and havenots. Haves represented by Buck’s Hwang and havenots by Wang Lung, the poor farmer, who works hard and rises to prosper by farming on the lands of Hwang who “outsource” the tedious hard work to poor like Wang Lung. Though Wang Lung catches up on prosperity and passes on the same to next generation, sadly along with the rich heritage comes lack of respect for the good earth. How aptly the analogy holds true as Copenhagen buzzes with the rich and the poor. The rich nations, who have outsourced manufacturing and dirty chimney stacks to the poor nations, are trying hard to keep the sticks in their hand and not parting with carrots either. The poor countries have a lot of catching up to do with rich countries and are looking for a fair deal. The western countries have dumped old outdated technologies in the developing countries at exorbitant costs and now want them to pay for newer technologies to reduce pollution or carbon footprint. As per Kyoto Protocol, western countries are required to provide money & technology to poor countries to fight global warming which is creation of the west. The rich countries are trying to wriggle out of such commitments and want all countries to have equal share of responsibilities. The climates have changed due to global heritage of inefficient technologies from the western countries. The poor countries are already feeling the impact on agriculture pattern, uncertain rains, floods and draughts. The polar caps and the Himalayas have been shrinking. There has been lack of respect for the good earth by western countries greedy for their growth & prosperity. By seeking to tie down poor nations to peaking year and targets for emission cuts, the rich countries are ensuring guaranteed market for their new technologies. With peaking year commitments for emissions they want to cap the growth of poor countries. Prime Minister Man Mohan Singh has categorically stated before departure to Copenhagen that "Climate change
cannot be addressed by perpetuating the poverty of the developing countries". G77 + China, including Africa, have been seeking funding from rich western countries to the poor countries for managing technology up gradation and related programs for cutting carbon emissions. African countries have shown that they can make the difference between success and failure. After considerable pushing to the brink of failure of the talks, the western nations have reportedly committed US$ 22 billion for fighting against global warming. Hilary Clinton has reportedly talked about joining US$100 billion funding program to fight global warming. A key aspect of the negotiations is transparency in implementation of programs for emission cuts. Western countries ready to fund, want access for evaluation of progress and China is adamant on denying such access. China is manufacturing factory of the world with 50 % of their GDP coming from manufacturing sector. Their carbon intensity is 2.85 tons per US$1000 of GDP as against India’s 1.8 tons. China is number one polluting nation with India as fifth on the list. China, currently the bankers to the US, does not need funds to up grade their technologies. Nevertheless, they do have obligation to convince the world that they are doing enough to cut down emissions as per commitments made by them. This is particularly so in view of not very reliable statistics coming out of China. US have only 20% of GDP coming from manufacturing sector with almost 73% of GDP coming from services sector. Just like Pearl Buck’s Hwang, they have outsourced manufacturing to Wang Lung or China. China must find a way to be transparent on such an issue or else like the inheritors of Wang Lung of Pearl Buck, the next generation Chinese will inherit wealth, luxuries and lack of respect for the good earth. Chinese should prosper but not lose sight of their responsibilities to the next generations. US never ratified Kyoto protocol even as it is heading for end of phase one by 2012. True leadership has to lead from the front. US can not expect others to follow international obligations which itself is unwilling to accept. US have announced emission cuts with base of 2005 instead of 1990 which makes their target within easy reach. They can not have different starting or finishing lines. Even though their manufacturing sector
contributes only 20% of GDP of about US $ 14 trillion, their capita carbon emission is about 20 tons as against China’s 4.5 ton and India’s 1.1 ton. With 73 % GDP from services sector, US are a consuming economy not producing. So their carbon emissions are more from consumption than from manufacturing. At first strike, automobiles seem to be single largest polluting product emitting carbon and therefore US should consider reducing their automotive carbon foot print by planning public transport systems which are almost non existent for the size of market and country. The number of vehicles on the roads can be reduced with efficient public transport. US consumers would not compromise even on their week end outing but the world must be transparent enough to show the rich countries that they are implementing emission cuts with access to western inspectors. Can we have equitable standards for global platforms? The Danish Prime Minister in his opening speech hoped that Copenhagen would be “Hopenhagen” for successful multilateral talks and a treaty. Unfortunately, the President of the COP 15, Connie Hedegaard, was forced to resign on allegations of favoring western countries. The controversial Danish draft based on perpetuating the haves and havenots has at last been dropped. The Danes have perhaps realized that they brought the talks to “Hopelesshagen” and must rescue the Summit with face saver. The climate change conference seems to be heading for a UN Climate Change Conference draft or in worst case a political declaration instead of an international binding treaty post 2012. The top political leaders of US, and G 77 + China must still work for an equitable treaty based on transparency for all without exceptions including US. For President Obama the short distance from Stockholm to Copenhagen is running via two polar routes, the Alps, the Urals and the Himalayas all facing the heat of global warming. Quite a “Polar Bearish” task indeed. He will need to clutch his Nobel medal close to his heart and thank Pearl S. Buck for writing “The Good Earth”. Vijay M. Deshpande Corporate Advisor, Strategic Management Initiative,
Pune. December 17, 2009 Scroll down for my other blogs Or visit www.strami.com