Taking the Heat
Nobody said climate change negotiations would be easy. From the outset, they combined the most divisive aspects of nuclear disarmament negotiations and world trade talks, splitting the world between “haves” and “have nots” and developed and developing states. On both the WTO’s Doha Round and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, India found itself at the vanguard of opposition to the West, with damaging but fortunately not disastrous political consequences. It appeared that a similar outcome was inevitable on climate negotiations.
However, despite increasing concerns, India may not have to play its usual role of obstructionist at this month’s United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen. Enduring rifts between developed and developing countries, alternate proposals being forwarded, and domestic politics in industrialised states threaten to postpone any agreement, especially one that can be considered legally binding. Over the past several months, expectations for Copenhagen have been lowered, and even optimistic forecasts predict only a political arrangement in principle that could pave the way for a binding agreement at a future UN conference.
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