Daily Bulletin

The Conversation

  • Written by The Conversation Contributor
imageIndia's Narendra Modi has the power to scupper US President Obama's climate legacy.Reuters/Kevin Lamarque

No one is going to allow the Paris climate talks to collapse. The memory of Copenhagen is still raw, and US President Barack Obama has invested enormous political capital in a successful outcome.

This situation hands great bargaining power (or rather, blackmailing power) to India. On the final day of the conference, whatever India insists on will be acceded to.

And India, although talking up its renewables investments, is taking a confrontational approach aimed at watering down the final Paris agreement. As the New York Times put it, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi can “make or break Obama’s climate legacy”.

India is refusing to endorse what would be the centrepiece of a Paris agreement: five-yearly reviews of emissions reduction commitments, which are essential to giving the post-Kyoto “pledge-and-review” system teeth – or at least more effective gums.

Part of the answer to India’s intransigence is money – it wants more funding for new energy investment and compensation for loss and damage – but at its core, the refusal to cooperate arises from a nationalist chip on the shoulder left over from colonialism.

But it has to be asked: why is the world community allowing India to hold it to ransom? The simple answer is that it is commonly accepted that when the chair brings down the gavel on the final agreement, there must be consensus.

This answer is not a good one. The expectation of consensus among major powers is inherited from the UN Security Council and the early practice of UN climate conferences to ensure that developing countries felt included.

But consensus is not needed to make a Paris agreement legally binding. In fact, “legally binding” is a fiction and its constant deployment here at the talks is something of a puzzle. The Kyoto Protocol was legally binding under international law, but that did not stop the United States and Australia from refusing to ratify it, and Canada from ratifying then repudiating it. Nothing happened.

Climate law is among the weakest elements of international law. Bolivia refused to endorse the Cancun agreement, declaring it too weak, and a footnote records its dissent. Even some of the strongest international law, the UN Refugee Convention, is flouted with impunity (think Australia and asylum-seekers).

International law is most effective when there are material losses from opting out, such as the loss of most-favoured nation status for countries that do not join the World Trade Organization. That kind of mechanism is the only way to give a climate agreement real bite.

So whatever the words on paper say, anything that comes out of Paris will reflect voluntary commitments, and compliance mechanisms – inventories, reporting and reviews – will also be voluntary. But the strength of those voluntary commitments is vital. “Consensus-minus-one” on a stronger agreement is surely preferable to a weaker agreement with full consensus. So let India dissent, and have its dissent recorded in a footnote to the Paris agreement.

If that is India’s sovereign decision, so be it; but it should be made clear that it will be opting out of all the elements of the agreement, including financial flows. A few years out in the cold (so to speak), while the rest of the world gets on with it, is likely to persuade the emerging giant to adopt a less intransigent position.

Disclosure

Clive Hamilton is a Member of the Climate Change Authority. The views expressed here are his personal ones and do not reflect those of the Authority.

Authors: The Conversation Contributor

Read more http://theconversation.com/india-should-not-be-allowed-to-hold-the-world-to-ransom-at-the-climate-talks-51719


The Conversation

Politics

Prime Minister on the Alan Jones Show

ALAN JONES: Prime Minister, good morning.    PRIME MINISTER: Good morning Alan, how are you? Good to hear you back on the air.   JONES: Thank you. Thank you very much. Can I just - there's a lot...

Alan Jones - avatar Alan Jones

The Greens side with activists, not farmers

The Greens’ Agriculture Spokesperson, Senator Janet Rice, today made some disgraceful comments in relation to the Government’s tough new penalties for keyboard warriors who incite activists to inv...

Senator Bridget McKenzie - avatar Senator Bridget McKenzie

Scott Morrison interview with Alan Jones - 2GB

ALAN JONES: The Prime Minister's on the line from Melbourne, Prime Minister good morning. PRIME MINISTER: Good morning Alan ALAN JONES:  thank you for your time. I wish we had three hours but look...

Alan Jones - avatar Alan Jones

Business News

Tips To Ensure The Best B2B Ecommerce Customer Experience

The B2B ecommerce space offers an incredible array of opportunities. It is has registered growth at more than double the size of B2C ecommerce. These tips will help you greatly in improving your cu...

News Company - avatar News Company

Multi-channel Ecommerce And Its Unparalleled Benefits

With severe competition within the ecommerce industry nowadays, exercising measures for expansion has become crucial. When you’re planning to dive into areas of growing your business into a full-fle...

News Company - avatar News Company

Top 5 Reasons Businesses Are Shifting From Magento To Shopify

Although building an online business has been made simpler by the extensive use of the internet, maintaining its success is a journey rather than a destination. It involves critical decisions made a...

News Company - avatar News Company

Travel

DEAL: Kids stay and eat for FREE these school holidays!

Take these school holidays to the next level with the ultimate family escape at PARKROYAL Darling Harbour. What’s more, kids under 12 years of age, can stay and eat for FREE! ...

Liana Gardy - avatar Liana Gardy

How to Book a Hotel for Your Vietnam Trip

Finding a travel destination may turn out to be challenging at times. You may have a long bucket list, which leaves you spoilt for choice on where to visit first. Going through travel blogs and site...

News Company - avatar News Company

New Allianz data reveals the ‘forgotten’ European countries attracting Australian travellers this winter

FROM SPAIN TO THE UKRAINE - THE SURPRISE EUROPEAN DESTINATIONS BOOMING WITH AUSSIE TOURISTS Australian travellers are seeking new destinations beyond the Mediterranean when it comes to European...

Media Release - avatar Media Release

ShowPo