All eyes are now on New Delhi as Beijing, Washington and Brussels arrive in tandem for the Paris talks

UN Climate Talks - Where Does India StandCreative Commons: UNFCCC, 2015
Voices ClimateTalks Monday, September 21, 2015 - 21:42

The climate deal is done and it is scripted in large parts in mandarin. China has emerged a serious winner followed by the United States (US) and the European Union (EU). When US President Barack Obama bids adieu, he will not only have restored relations with Cuba and closed a nuclear deal with Iran, he will likely have a shiny new climate deal in his pocket as well. The final touches for the United Nations (UN) climate negotiations November are in their home stretch.

Where does India, working towards a high-growth trajectory, place itself and where will it find itself when the gavel comes down on the negotiations in under ten weeks?  India is yet to publicly announce its Intended Nationally Distributed Contributions (INDCs) and there are unconfirmed reports that Prime Minister Narendra Modi may make an announcement during his visit to the UN in New York later this month. Energy efficiency, robust reforestation and renewable energy targets are three planks upon which India is building its case.

Earlier this month the Prime Minister addressed a group of developing countries in New Delhi saying it was erroneous on the part of rich nations to think low and middle-income countries were against halting global warming. The global goal is to stop the earth heating beyond two degrees centigrade (3.6 Fahrenheit) from current temperatures and countries will have to pull back on their carbon-dioxide (CO2) emissions if this has to be achieved. China, US and India are the three largest emitters.

There is concern that INDCs (broadly national goals) geared to address the needs of 1.3 billion Indians will be credible only if India has a financial and institutional roadmap towards the last goal – renewable energy.  Pressure from the EU and US is high on India that now finds itself in the unenviable position of having to synchronize its economic growth with global targets for CO2 emissions. Why is India late to this - the talks have been going on for years - is a question that experts will write papers about, but for now there is an urgent need to enter the stadium.

China which a section of India compares itself with, is on another planet. It cut lose of all others some time ago. With Beijing controlling over 59 percent of the global market in green technologies (solar, wind) and 17 percent of the Chinese population using renewable technologies and wanting more, China can laugh all the way to the bank and beyond. If the deal goes through as it is expected to, it will also give Washington an opportunity to lean on countries (read Iran andNigeria) to cut oil subsidies. Brussels is seeking its place in the sun and now speaking increasingly aggressively about  â€śgreen dumping” by China while the Chinese continue to sell their expertise and technology in Europe.

“Global warming, cancer, bad, pollution, stop it are all words that entered the Chinese lexicon a few years ago. In addition to cornering global markets with its technology, China’s stand has domestic approval,” a European diplomat told The News Minute (TNM). “There is a good chance that China may get western nations to underwrite selling its technology to Africa,” he added. China has been present in Africa for over two decades.

Supposedly unresolved is the key issue about funding, mechanisms for transition and how India will navigate its growth engines without polluting the world any further. New numbers are expected in ten days to show how much funding is necessary to help developing countries address climate change so as to meet the first target of 2020. If $100 billion too much, who pays and for whom are all live issues.

The writing on the wall for India is obvious and it is written in green letters. Some say this is an opportunity for the country to lead in building a green economy and New Delhi should bite the bullet post haste and negotiate a strong agreement for itself leveraging its market, talent and technology potential.  Others say delinking the past – where developed countries plundered the world’s resources – with future plans is unfair and will freeze India in a permanent also-ran position.

Nobody wants to walk away from Paris empty-handed. Beginning late November some 45,000 people will meet just outside the French capital to whine and dine, complain and cajole each other about climate change and how there is no plan B as far as the earth is concerned. With Beijing, Washington and Brussels arriving in tandem,  all eyes are on New Delhi. Double or quits – c’est la question.