What's with the Climate?

Voices of a Subcontinent grappling with Climate Change


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Conspiracy Theories, Linguistic Politics & Tech Inefficiency Hijacked Day 3 @Climate Talks

Dispatches from COP 20, Lima.

Another day passed at COP 20 Lima, is the best expression to inform the readers about what happened on the last day (3rd December). Science is recommending urgent action, but there seems to be no urgency in the talks. The negotiations are taking place in English, better say “English with overflowing jargons” which is not the first language of most of the delegates present. As a result clarity is sought on almost every phrase mentioned in the text. All this is justified and helps in democratizing the process, but it is a painfully slow process and progress is being made at snail’s pace. I’m following the discussion on the draft decision text of “Advancing the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP)”. Last day in the session dedicated to ADP, countries had cat fights in very diplomatic still unkind language.

To fasten the conversation on ADP, Co-chair of the session, Kishan Kumar Singh, proposed to start with general reflection of countries that are called parties on draft text. Their thoughts in the form of interventions can be gathered at the same time through email and placed on website for everyone to access. The chair with the support of secretariat can later incorporate those inputs, synthesize and place it on wider screen for longer detailed discussions. This was considered undemocratic by many countries. Nigerian delegate with “newest version of Apple Laptop” on his table registered his protest against the proposition in high pitch, by saying that he and others are not very tech-friendly, and will prefer the text on the bigger screen to begin with. To me, that act seem to be nothing more than a delaying tactic as they can see the draft text on their laptop screen and avail the interventions  from the UNFCCC website, and reserve and share their thoughts by notifying the chair. Too much to ask for from those who own Mac devises?!

South African delegate hinted that the inability to display on the text on screen is a conspiracy of developed countries to impose their agenda, delegation from Argentina also voiced similar concerns. Developed countries which include Switzerland, United States suggested toeing the line of the chair and moving further. Frustrated with the slow progress chair- Kishan spoke in harsh and sarcastic terms, and said tomorrow the session will begin with the text displayed on screen- “we will go line by line, word by word, comma by comma, and full stop by full stop”. On which South African delegated reacted with humor and wit, saying- “Mr. Chair, are you threatening by saying-‘line by line, word by word, comma by comma, full stop by full stop’”. Tuvalu whose existence is being threatened by climate change chose to facilitate the conversation. Tuvalu’s intervention was to constitute “Friends of chair” to define the procedures. Kishan still angry and frustrated, went on to question whether there are any friends left in the room? Continue reading


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India Struggling Between the Juggernaut of International Image & Equity @Climate Talks

Dispatches from COP 20, Lima. 

Indian government delegation is warming up for a test match like scenario at COP 20 in Lima. Last blog-post looked at couple of expectations shared by the delegation members. Those were elaborated further today at an informal chit-chat with civil society. It seems that India in coordination with other developing countries will push for Adaptation, Adaptation, and Adaptation at par with mitigation in Paris, 2015 climate deal. The equal parity between mitigation, and adaption in the mandate of Global Climate Fund was appreciated in the interaction.

While the need for inclusion of adaptation is understood well, there is no visible clarity on the nuts and bolts of framework for adaptation. According to Mr. Sushil Kumar, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC), there is a benchmark limit like 2 Degree Centigrade for mitigation purposes, similar yardstick is yet to be devised for adaptation. To initiate an identical framework for adaptation, scale or some sort of index quantifying vulnerability is necessary, and the talks for the same are yet to take place. Informally Inter-governmental panel on climate change like body is being proposed to do the job quantification of vulnerability and adaptation.

There are more questions than answers about it.

India has been a champion of ‘equity’ in the convention. There is growing fatigue around the equity argument. There are apprehensions of it blocking or derailing the prospective deal. For new government in Delhi, international image is very important and also they don’t want to lose their flagpole of ‘equity’. The juggernauts of equity, international image and other pertaining questions have forced the government to open its floor for wider participation of civil society. And this has brought in new players like the think tank of prominent journalists and former bureaucrats in the game. In the interaction, it was very visible that the Indian delegation is heavily dependent on their opinions and understanding, and is waiting for their final verdict on the same.

The lack of clarity on government’s part has opened many doors for civil society to intervene and liaison. But it also leaves us in dismay as many in the delegation are not as prepared as we were made to believe.  We hope that Indian delegation, with little understanding and preparation is not going to make a fool of itself in the negotiations. Whatever said and done, one thing is very clear that Lima has inflamed desires for stronger agreement and it is not going to be a pass over as many were making us believe.


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Climate crisis: An appeal to the governments of Pakistan and India

By Rina Saeed Khan and Kabir Arora

With Jammu and Kashmir inundated and Punjab in Pakistan flooded, the time bomb is ticking away. Climate change has been declared to be the greatest threat facing mankind this century.

South Asian countries such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar are all vulnerable today.

We have not yet resolved the basic issues of poverty, hunger and inequality, which breed discontent and terrorism. And in these troubling times, we are forced to face the brunt of extreme weather events because of growing climate variability.

Recent scientific research shows near to virtual certainty of linkages between climate change and extreme weather events.

Climate change is a potent threat multiplier that will make all our problems much worse.

The investment on constructing Asia’s largest solar thermal power plant in the Cholistan Desert and subsidies to buy solar technology for households and institutions in India are good starting points for sustainable growth pathways to mitigate climate change. However, a lot more is expected from the South Asian leadership.

In India and Pakistan, we have popularly elected strong governments, who now should show pragmatic leadership to tackle the climate crisis.

Already a proposal has been submitted to the Pakistan government to request India, as part of the current “flood aid diplomacy” to establish a system for the real-time exchange of hydro-logical (rivers flow and reservoirs level) data between the two countries….

The article is originally published on dawn.com and can be read at here.