India skips mention of natural disasters at climate meet


November 17, 2013

The Phillipines typhoon had killed over 10,000 persons that struck the country just two days before the beginning of the conference.

November 17, 2013

The Phillipines typhoon had killed over 10,000 persons that struck the country just two days before the beginning of the conference.

WARSAW: World may be looking at India for its response to what had happened recently in Odisha and Uttarakhand due to natural disasters which were results of climatic extremes, but there was not a word on these two unfortunate incidents from Indian side, comprising official negotiators, here at the UN climate change conference during the first week of this mega event that would eventually culminate into a global climate deal in Paris in 2015.

Neither the Indian government's open statement nor the negotiators' remarks during various rounds of discussions could mention how the country was equally vulnerable to such climate disasters caused by global warming.

Even the move of Philippines — that had left the participants from 195 countries stunned on the opening day of the Conference on November 11 when head of the country's delegation, Yab Sano, broke down to tears while putting across his government's point of view referring to Typhoon Haiyan — has failed to shake up Indian side.

The typhoon had seen killing of over 10,000 persons that struck the country just two days before the beginning of the conference.

Observers who have been closely keeping track of developments during the 19th edition of the Conference of Parties (COP) here at National Stadium at heart of Poland's capital are puzzled. They don't know whether the Indian move was just a result of negotiators' disinterest or a ploy to keep the sensitive issue on hold till the Indian environment minister Jayanthi Natarajan arrives here to take part in the high-level ministerial round of the conference which will conclude on November 22.

It is learnt that Natarajan, who is expected to come here on Tuesday, may mention these two disasters — Odisha and Uttarakhand — in her formal statement a day after while asking the developed countries to look at various concerns of developing world. The issues may be raised to tell the world that New Delhi is conscious of how the climate change due to global warning is causing disasters beyond boundaries.

The silence of Indian official negotiators, so far, over such disasters that left over 5,000 people killed in Uttarakhand due to floods and lakhs of people homeless\displaced in Odisha due to Cyclone Phailin made Indian NGOs here both intrigued and nervous.

They expressed that the Indian government side could have told the world that the country too was victim of disasters like what had happened in Philippines while referring to Odisha and Uttarakhand disasters and therefore it was very much conscious of the impact of global warming.

Chandra Bhushan, deputy director general of the New Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), said, "Everyone is talking about Philippines…no one is talking about India. I think this is an attitude problem of Indian negotiators".

Bhushan, climate change expert who has been keeping track of all negotiations here, said thousands of people were killed in Uttarakhand but not a word from Indian side on climate disasters in India.

Other Indian civil society groups too have similar grudge. The CSE, in its part, will hold a pictorial exhibition on sidelines of the Conference, highlighting the disasters that struck India and pitch for government's response to fight the menace of global warming.

Striking a chord with participants from developing and least developed countries, the Philippines' head of delegation, Sano, had in his emotional speech on last Monday appealed the rich countries to deliver on their promise to commit $100 billion, beginning 2020, to help developing countries cope with the impacts of climate change. He urged the nations not to stop "until there is assurance on finance for adaptation".

The pledge for $100 billion per annum beginning 2020 — meant for adaptation or reduction of future emissions by developing countries — has, however, caused lot of heartburns among the rich nations who want a market-based mechanism to deal with the issue where they want private players to take the lead without government's direct role.

The developing countries, including India, want the developed nations to establish a "loss and damage" mechanism to ensure that the climate-damaging greenhouse gases' emissions are stabilized. They argue that the mechanism should be based on the premise that the rich nations, who were responsible for high GHG emission during industrialization period, must pay not only for the "damage" caused by them but also for the "loss" which the developing countries might have suffered during their efforts to switch over the new climate-friendly but costly technology.

It is to be seen whether Natarajan would effectively put forth these points and drive home a message that India continues to take lead in safeguarding interests of developing countries. Certainly, she won't dilute country's position when she joins the Conference here — specially when India is going to face a general election in next four months to elect a new government.

Courtesy: TNN