Sunday, October 25, 2009
Central Committee Resolution
On Climate Change
(Adopted at the Central Committee meeting held on October 23-25, 2009)
1. The problem of climate change has reached crisis proportions. The scientific consensus as represented in the reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is that the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is rapidly approaching levels beyond which irreversible and potentially catastrophic global warming and other changes in climate could occur. While these changes will affect all of humanity, it is clear that the worst effects would be felt by the poor especially in the developing world. India is likely to be among the worst affected regions, with erratic and unseasonal rainfall, melting of Himalayan glaciers, floods and droughts, changes in crop behaviour including sharp drop in production of cereals, and rising sea-levels inundating coastal areas including major cities.
2. The forthcoming global Summit in Copenhagen in December 2009 is expected to finalize international Treaty arrangements under the auspices of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to reduce global emissions and restrict atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations. Despite mounting evidence of the grave threats posed by climate change, the US and other industrialized countries appear hell bent on sabotaging these efforts. They are undermining the UNFCCC framework of “common but differentiated responsibility” of developed and developing countries wherein the former are required to undertake binding emission cuts while the latter would be assisted through funds and technology transfer to adapt to climate change and adopt low-carbon development strategies. The advanced countries led by the US in fact seek to shift the burden of the crisis on to the developing countries, especially India, China and other so-called “emerging economies”.
3. Climate change and the unfolding dynamics of the global climate negotiations are clear manifestations of the predatory character of capitalism. Climate change has been caused by the illicit appropriation and occupation of the global atmospheric commons by the industrialized countries. The US and its allies are now pushing hard to structurally build these inequities into the global Climate Treaty arrangements. The refusal of the advanced capitalist countries to provide funds as compensation for the environmental damage caused and the imposition of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) restrictions on transfer of technologies are part of the overall attempt to perpetuate the inequalities in the global order.
4. The Kyoto Protocol, in trying to redress these inequities, had set binding emission reduction targets for the developed countries while exempting developing countries from such obligations, instead calling upon them to take appropriate measures commensurate with their national capabilities. Developed countries have blatantly violated their Treaty obligations to reduce emissions by 5 percent compared to 1990 baseline levels by now. On the contrary, their cumulative emissions went up by 10 percent, while that of the US which refused to join the Treaty went up by a massive 17 percent. With the dangerously advancing crisis, IPCC has now called upon developed countries to commit to deep emission cuts of 40 percent by 2020 and 90 percent by 2050. Far from doing so, the developed countries are continually diluting even their earlier commitments, the EU offering a mere 20 percent and the US just 3 percent with respect to 1990 levels. Most damagingly, in the run-up to Copenhagen, the US and its key allies are seeking to altogether abandon the UNFCCC framework and Kyoto principles of differential responsibilities for developed and developing countries, instead putting them in the same bracket.
5. The official Indian position vis-à-vis the international negotiations, as well as its actions within the country, have been seriously wanting. Far from seriously countering these US-led efforts, the Indian government while formally maintaining that it is sticking to the Kyoto principles, has been giving overt and covert support to the US position in a number of ways. There are clear signs that India is tacitly going along with US efforts to dilute the Copenhagen outcome by emphasizing general goals, some unequal technology collaborations and postponing if not abandoning the requisite stiff emission reduction targets for developed countries. Regardless of the recent differences within sections of the government on negotiating positions, with the Minister of Environment and Forests Advocating a more blatantly pro-US position, the overall trend is towards India collaborating with the US as part of an overall Indo-US strategic partnership. These moves must be resisted by all progressive sections in the interests of humanity, especially the poor, and as part of the struggle against capitalist globalization.
6. India has adopted a National Action Plan on Climate Change and has recently announced a series of measures to conserve energy and reduce emissions. Unilateral Indian actions alone to reduce emissions will not reduce the impact on India, because climate change is a global phenomenon not just a national one. On the other hand, India can and should adopt an action plan to reduce emission growth rates, not unilaterally but based on reciprocal actions i.e. conditional upon the US and other developed countries adopting the deep emission cut goals recommended by the IPCC. This would not only be an appropriate response to the serious crisis humanity is facing but could also alter the dynamics of the climate negotiations. Such an action plan would also enable greater accountability towards a more responsible and socially equitable developmental trajectory within India.
7. More than half of Indian households, mostly the poor in rural areas, have no access to modern energy. Energy inequality in India is a major factor in poor human development of the majority of the Indian people. Policies of the government, especially one that claims to work for the aam aadmi, should be reoriented specifically to deliver more energy to these sections and should form an integral component of all poverty alleviation endeavours. This will inevitably result in increase of emissions that must be compensated by energy conservation measures related to better-off sections of society and sectors of the economy. Corporate India must also adhere to a trajectory that does not damage the environment, people's health and social justice. Environmentally sustainable and socially equitable development are inextricably intertwined. The CPI(M) demands adoption of a clear and targeted set of policies harmonizing domestic and international concerns aimed at promoting both climate justice and social equity.
In light of the above, the CPI(M) demands of the Government that:
* India firmly resists pressure from the US and other advanced countries to abandon the Kyoto and UNFCCC framework and sticks to the principles of common but differentiated responsibilities for developed and developing countries
* India should continue to press for fund and technology transfers from developed to developing countries as compensation for damage caused by historical emissions, and freeing of technology transfers from IPR restrictions
* India take up and announce measures for control and reduction of growth rates of emissions not unilaterally but only conditional upon the US and other Annex-1 advanced countries undertaking the deep emission cuts as called for by the IPCC
* India work closely with the G5 group of large developing countries and with the G77, especially the Least Developed Countries and the Small Island Developing States, and maintain the unity of the developing countries
* India move pro-actively on adaptation measures and to reduce energy inequality within the country so that India's climate policies serve to advance the interests of India's poor and protect them from the worst effects of climate change.