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Indias Stand On The Summit Environmental Sciences Essay

Before moving to details on international summits, let us have an understanding on an important protocol in the sphere of climate change :

Kyoto Protocol

The Kyoto Protocol is an international agreement linked to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, aimed at fighting global warming. The major feature of the Kyoto Protocol is that it sets binding targets for 37 industrialized countries and the European community for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. These amount to an average of five per cent against 1990 levels over the five-year period 2008-2012.

The major distinction between the Protocol and the Convention is that while the Convention encouraged industrialised countries to stabilize Greenhouse gas emissions, the Protocol commits them to do so.

It was adopted in 1997 and entered into force in 2005. According to the UNFCCC website, 193 states have signed and ratified the protocol.

It binds developed countries because it recognizes that developed countries are principally responsible for the current high levels of Greenhouse Gas emissions in the atmosphere, as a result of more than 150 years of industrial activity.

Structure:

The beating heart of Kyoto Protocol is made up of:

Reporting and verification procedures;

Flexible market-based mechanisms, which in turn have their own governance procedures; and

A compliance system.

Political significance:

The United States never ratified the treaty. Developing countries have since become major emitters, with China overtaking the United States to become the world's biggest producer of carbon. Poorer nations want the Kyoto Protocol to be extended, but many rich nations say a broader pact is needed to include all the big polluters. Russia, Japan and Canada have said they will not sign up for a second commitment period unless the biggest emitters do too. Moreover, neither China nor the United States is willing to agree to a new deal unless the other does so first.

The European Union (EU), which has taken a lead in adopting targets to cut carbon and increase the share of renewable energy, has said it is open to signing up for a second commitment period, but on condition the major emitters give evidence of a firm intention to join in.

RIO SUMMIT/ EARTH SUMMIT

The United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), also known as the Rio Summit/ Rio Conference/ Earth Summit was a major United Nations conference held in Rio de Janeiro from 3 June to 14 June 1992.

In 2012, the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development was also held in Rio on June 20-22nd, and is also commonly called Rio+20 or Rio Earth Summit 2012.

At the Rio+20 Conference, world leaders, along with thousands of participants from governments, the private sector, NGOs and other groups, will come together to shape how we can reduce poverty, advance social equity and ensure environmental protection on an ever more crowded planet to get to the future we want.

The conference was centered around Agenda 21, the outcome document from Earth Summit 1992. That document was considered revolutionary in that it essentially created the term sustainable development and created the global environmental agenda for the next 20 years.

Sustainable development meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Seen as the guiding principle for long-term global development, sustainable development consists of three pillars: economic development, social development and environmental protection.

Objectives:

The Conference will focus on two themes:

a) a green economy in the context of sustainable development poverty eradication; and

(b) the institutional framework for sustainable development

Topics discussed:

The preparations for Rio+20 have highlighted seven areas which need priority attention; these include decent jobs, energy, sustainable cities, food security and sustainable agriculture, water, oceans and disaster readiness.

Rio+20 sought to secure affirmations for the political commitments made at past Earth Summits and set the global environmental agenda for the next 20 years by assessing progress towards the goals set forth in Agenda 21 and implementation gaps therein, and discussing new and emerging issues. The UN wanted Rio to endorse a UN "green economy roadmap," with environmental goals, targets and deadlines, whereas developing countries preferred establishing new “sustainable development goals" (SDGs) to better protect the environment, guarantee food and power to the poorest, and alleviate poverty.

“The text includes language supporting the development of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a set of measurable targets aimed at promoting sustainable development globally. It is thought that the SDGs will pick up where the Millenium Development Goals leave off and address criticism that the original Goals fail to address the role of the in development.”

The attempt to shore up the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) in order to make it the “leading global environmental authority” by setting forth eight key recommendations including, strengthening its governance through universal membership, increasing its financial resources and strengthening its engagement in key UN coordination bodies.

Nations agreed to explore alternatives to GDP as a measure of wealth that take environmental and social factors into account in an effort to assess and pay for ‘environmental services’ provided by nature, such as carbon sequestration and habitat protection.

Recognition that "fundamental changes in the way societies consume and produce are indispensable for achieving global sustainable development.” EU officials suggest it could lead to a shift of taxes so workers pay less and polluters and landfill operators pay more.

The document calls the need to return ocean stocks to sustainable levels “urgent” and calls on countries to develop and implement science based management plans.

All nations reaffirmed commitments to phase out fossil fuel subsidies.

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), guiding much of the debate on green economy, describes it as one that results in "improved human well-being and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities."

It explains further: "For governments, this would include levelling the playing field for greener products by phasing out antiquated subsidies, reforming policies and providing new incentives, strengthening market infrastructure and market-based mechanisms, redirecting public investment, and greening public procurement."

Consumption :- It has been recognised that societies need to undergo a fundamental change in the way they consume and produce to achieve sustainability, but there is little on how this can be achieved, the sole reference being an invigorating 10-year framework programme on sustainable consumption.

Sustainable transportation systems :- The Asian Development Bank and seven multilateral development banks pledged $175 billion to support sustainable transportation systems in developing nations, via loans and grants, by 2022.

Energy:- The OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID) has announced $1 billion for its 'energy for the poor' initiative.

Deforestation:- Companies in the Consumer Goods Forum, led by Unilever, have pledged to eliminate deforestation from the supply chains of soy, palm oil, paper and beef products by 2020.

Oceans:- Over 80 governments, civil-society groups, companies and international organisations have banded together in support of a new entity, the Global Partnership for Oceans.

Fisheries:- To reduce the open access nature of fisheries by creating responsible tenure arrangements; rebuild the world's over-fished stocks; and increase the annual net benefits of capture fisheries by at least $20 billion.

Political outcomes:

Earth summit in Rio drew 178 nations and around 100 heads of state. Diplomats had spent the previous two years drafting a pair of treaties intended to safeguard Earth’s biodiversity and climate, but the talks had recently faltered as rich and poor countries split over who should pay for protecting the planet.

Rio+20 attracted many protests, and more than 500 parallel events, exhibitions, presentations, fairs and announcements as a wide range of diverse groups struggled to take advantage of the conference in order to gain international attention. The British online newspaper, The Guardian reported that, “Downtown Rio de Janeiro was partly shut-down as an estimated 50,000 protesters, took to the streets.”

Developing countries had argued that they needed financial assistance in order to meet the costs of switching onto a green development path. But with the US in an election year and the EU deep in eurozone mire, any mention of specific sums was blocked.

As a consequence, developing countries refused to let the declaration endorse green economics as the definitive sustainable development path.

India’s stand on the summit

India says the agreement should be based on the original Rio principle of "equity" and "common but differentiated responsibility".

What are equity & CBDR

Equity means the right to growth, and eradication of poverty without any restrictions. CBDR (common but differentiated responsibility) means everybody has to contribute to sustainable growth, but targets should be mandatory for rich nations and voluntary for countries that are still developing.

Conclusion:

In the end, the leaders decided that they could not go home empty handed. They signed off on both the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Framework Convention on Climate Change, making broad pledges to solve some of the most complex problems facing humanity. Countries also agreed to a laundry list of goals spelled out in a document known as Agenda 21, which eventually spawned the Convention to Combat Desertification. Although the agreements lacked teeth, they created formal international processes that engaged almost the entire world and eventually led to more targeted accords.

Going beyond GDP as a measure of economic performance—and including natural and human capital—is integral to the green economy.

At Rio+20, developing countries—the BRICS nations and others—were seen and heard, prompting Nick Clegg, the deputy PM of UK, to declare at a session: "Power is shifting from the west to the east."

DURBAN CONFERENCE

The 2011 United Nations Climate Change Conference was held in Durban, South Africa, from 28 November to 11 December 2011 to establish a new treaty to limit carbon emissions.

Objective:

A legally binding deal comprising all countries, which would be prepared by 2015, and to take effect in 2020.

Progress regarding the creation of a Green Climate Fund (GCF) for which a management framework was adopted. The fund is to distribute US$100 billion per year to help poor countries adapt to climate impacts.

Topics discussed:

Theme:

Working Together

Saving Tomorrow Today

While the president of the conference, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, declared it a success, scientists and environmental groups warned that the deal was not sufficient to avoid global warming beyond 2 °C as more urgent action is needed.

In the second largest meeting of its kind, the negotiations advanced, in a balanced fashion, the implementation of the Convention and the Kyoto Protocol, the Bali Action Plan, and the Cancun Agreements. The outcomes included a decision by Parties to adopt a universal legal agreement on climate change as soon as possible, and no later than 2015. The President of COP17/CMP7 Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said: "What we have achieved in Durban will play a central role in saving tomorrow, today."

Recognised that climate change represents an urgent and potentially irreversible threat to human societies and the planet and thus requires to be urgently addressed by all Parties, and acknowledging that the global nature of climate change calls for the widest possible cooperation by all countries and their participation in an effective and appropriate international response, with a view to accelerating the reduction of global greenhouse gas

emissions

Noted with grave concern the significant gap between the aggregate effect of Parties’ mitigation pledges in terms of global annual emissions of greenhouse gases by 2020 and aggregate emission pathways consistent with having a likely chance of holding the increase in global average temperature below 2 °C or 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels,

Decided to extend the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action

under the Convention for one year in order for it to continue its work and reach the agreed

outcome

Recognized that fulfilling the ultimate objective of the Convention will

To achieve the target of 2 degrees of warming, emissions need to be cut by between 80 and 95 percent, scientists say.

Pledges on the table from Cancun totalled a roughly 60 percent reduction, which Artur Runge-Metzger, director of the international and climate strategy directorate at the EU Commission, said would translate into capping global warming at 3 to 4.5 degrees.

Oxfam's climate change policy adviser Tim Gore said the concern was that without a "top down" Kyoto Protocol, all that would be left would be the bottom-up pledging process, with no guarantee that would be enough.

This decision refers to the importance of taking into account gender aspects and acknowledging the role and needs of youth and persons with disabilities in capacity-building activities. The CMP invites continued provision of financial and technical resources to support capacity-building activities for the implementation of the Kyoto Protocol, addressing the following challenges:

geographical distribution of CDM project activities;

lack of technical expertise to estimate changes in carbon stock in soils; and

the need to train and retain experts to plan and implement project activities.

India’s view on Durban Conference

India had gone to Durban with three predominant objectives. First, to secure the continuance of the Kyoto Protocol, whose ‘first commitment period' is scheduled to end in 2012. Second, to ensure that its particular concerns on equity, intellectual property rights and unilateral trade measures, neglected in previous negotiating rounds, were substantively integrated in the future climate agenda. And third, to preserve the notion of ‘differentiation' between developed and developing countries, recognised through the principle of ‘common but differentiated responsibilities' (CBDR) in both the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the 1992 Rio Declaration on Environment and Development.

Conclusion:

After two weeks of negotiations a deal was reached only on the last day, Sunday 11 December, after a 60-hour marathon negotiation session. Negotiators agreed to be part of a legally binding treaty to address global warming. The terms of the future treaty are to be defined by 2015 and become effective in 2020. The agreement, referred to as the "Durban platform", is notable in that for the first time it includes developing countries such as China and India, as well as the US which refused to ratify the Kyoto Protocol.

The agreement entails the continuation of the Kyoto protocol in the interim, although only some countries including members of the EU are likely to commit.

Green fund

The conference led to progress regarding the creation of a Green Climate Fund for which a management framework was adopted. The fund is to distribute US$100bn per year to help poor countries adapt to climate impacts.

NATIONAL SUMMITS

India’s position on climate change

The Government of India's historical position is that as a developing country, it is not responsible for past greenhouse gas emissions and any solution to climate change must take the issue of equity into account. The Government of India says that India is willing to do its ‘fair share’, apportioned by country-wise historical contributions.

India has historically had low per-capita emission rates, and has often used the argument that every human being has an equal right to the atmosphere - per capita entitlements to the global atmospheric space. However, this argument is seen as a ‘right to pollute’ and has not gone down well with either industrialised countries or vulnerable countries most at risk of climate change.

In absolute terms, India is now the fourth largest emitter of greenhouse gases, with just under five percent of the global share of emissions. Since taking office in May 2009, the Minister for Environment and Forests, Jairam Ramesh, has sought to pursue a more proactive role in international climate negotiations and engaged in lively debates in Parliament on the issue.

At the UN climate negotiations, however, India has laid out its three ‘red lines’ - positions that it will not go beyond:

No legally binding emission cuts (therefore still in keeping with Kyoto and UNFCCC requirements)

No ‘peaking’ year for emission levels

No international monitoring and review of voluntary domestic actions.

Indian Youth Summit on Climate Change - Hyderabad '08

The Indian Youth Summit on Climate Change held from 7th to 10th of August 2008 was a milestone for India’s youth movement on climate change. From debate paralleling UN climate negotiations to addresses by eminent people to the youth and discussions of India’s emission targets to staying up till 3am discussing the future youth want to build.

The summit was organized by the Friendship Foundation, Global Citizens for Sustainable Development, Nature & Biological Sciences Society, the Indian Youth Climate Network, and hosted by Infosys Technologies Limited at their Gachibowli campus.

Objective:

The aim of the summit was to come out with a youth declaration on climate change to unite the individuals and organizations that have a stake in climate change – which includes everyone. It also aimed to create the framework that would then move on to produce the India’s Youth Action Plan on Climate Change, climate policy that will be proposed to the government over the next 6-8 months.

Topics discussed:

Narayana Murthy, co-founder, Chairman Emeritus and Chief Mentor of Infosys Technologies Limited, addressed the delegates. He said, “I have always believed that the most powerful instrument that a leader has is leadership by example.”

Participants agreed that India needs to act urgently, commit to emissions reduction targets and renewable energy targets. They also agreed our actions need to be based on an international target of 350ppm concentration of carbon dioxide emissions in the atmosphere.

Other guest speakers included, Nitin Desai, former Under Secretary General of the United Nations; Vandana Shiva, an eminent physicist, environmental activist, author and the founder of the Navdanya Institute; Gaurav Gupta from the Climate Project India, Dr Rajamani, Former Chief Secretary, Ministry of Environment & Forests, Government of India, and speakers from CSM, Oxfam, Greenpeace and Sierra Club.

Outcomes:

Exchange of knowledge, ideas, techniques and practices on climate change mitigation and adaptation. Attendees prepared presentations that facilitated discussions. It brought together 150 youth from 15 states in India, ranging from Rajasthan to Meghalaya and from Kashmir to Tamil Nadu.

Created the Indian Youth Charter on Climate Change.

Produced an alternative to the current vision of a post 2012 scenario; setting policy and projects,; marking objectives and benchmarks for India in all areas related to climate change. This was in adherence to the assumptions based on existing national and international climate policy and the National Action Plan on Climate Change.

Sent the first ever Indian Youth Delegation representing Indian youth at the UNFCCC COP/CMP 14 in Poland in December, 2008. All except one member of this delegation participated in the Indian Youth Summit on Climate Change.

Forged a nationwide partnership of youth under the aegis of the Indian Youth Climate Network, and a lot of our regional coordinators were found through this summit, and many participants returned to their region for local organising, and continuing participation as a part of the network and building the nationwide movement.

Exchanged innovative and creative ideas through painting murals about climate change, running a poster session and holding a film screening during this conference.

Ensured participation from:

a. Youth from educational institutions, organizations and young individuals from across India.

b. Selected specialists and eminent speakers on climate change from a range of sectors from across India, including business, NGO, academic and government backgrounds.

c. Teachers and social activists working on climate change and sustainable development related issues

National conference on Climate Change and Food Security

The conference was organized by Gene Campaign and Action Aid at the Constitution Club, New Delhi on 23rd and 24th April, 2010. A range of speakers representing the scientific community, the government, academics, international organizations and civil society groups working on agriculture and environment spoke about the various issues involved in ensuring food security in a changing climate. The conference was attended by participants from 22 states including, Uttaranchal, Bihar, UP, Jharkhand, Orissa, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Haryana, Punjab, MP, Gujarat, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Assam

The conference was inaugurated by men and women farmers from Jharkhand, Uttarakhand Bundelkhand, Rajasthan and Sunderbans, who explained the impact of climate change on their agriculture and livelihoods; how it is disturbing their farming practices, their crop patterns and their livestock and making it even more difficult than it already is to feed their families and earn a livelihood.

Objective:

Ensuring Food Security in a Changing Climate

Topics discussed:

After the inauguration, Mr. Sandeep Chachra of Action Aid welcomed the participants and the speakers. Dr. Suman Sahai (Gene Campaign) then set the tone of the conference giving data on anticipated climate turbulence relating to rainfall , sea level rise and impact on coastal agriculture as also the shortage of fresh water for agriculture. Dr Sahai said the injustice of the climate change impacts is that those who have created climate change will be its beneficiaries since their cold areas will become suitable for agriculture while the 2 and 3 crop zones of India and Asia could become 1 crop zones due to high temperature, aridity , leading to crop losses.

Dr. S. Ayyappan, Director General of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research, a fisheries expert explained explained how marine fish, the inland water fishes and the coastal reefs were suffering the impact of climate change. He said that due to the rise in the sea surface temperature, the breeding ground and the spawning seasons have changed.

Dr. P. K. Aggarwal, Coordinator, National Network on Climate Change and ICAR National Professor gave an overview on the research that was being done in the Indian Agricultural system to adapt to climate change. He explained the projected impacts of climate change on South Asian agriculture. He stated that the production variability will increase as time goes by due to the frequent occurrence of floods and droughts and therefore there was great need to work on developing adaptation strategies.

Dr. Suman Sahai, Gene Campaign explained how agro biodiversity (i.e. genetic bio-diversity) of crop plants, livestock, fish stock gives the species the ability to adapt to changing climate and combat biotic and abiotic stress like pests and diseases. She said that genetic diversity helps to distribute the risk of climate change and maintain if not increase the productivity of crops.

Dr. M.R. Garg, Senior Scientist, National Dairy Development Board, Anand discussed the impact of climate change on livestock. He said that the increase in temperature has led to a reduction in the reproduction efficiency of diary animals. He explained how indigenous breeds of livestock are performing better than cross bred cattle and are better able to withstand the impact of climate change than cross bred cattle.

A set of recommendations were agreed upon after the discussions. These recommendations are being forwarded to the Prime Minister Sri Manmohan Singh, the Agriculture Minister Sri Sharad Pawar and other Ministers of the Union Cabinet.

Recommendations

Climate Change- Mitigation and Adaptation in Agriculture.

1. Assist farmers in coping with current climatic risks by providing value-added weather services to farmers and community banks for seed and fodder.

2. Provide greater coverage of weather linked agriculture-insurance.

3. Provide incentives to farmers for resource conservation and use efficiency by providing credit to the farmers for transition to adaptation technologies.

4. Intensify the food production system by improving the technology and input delivery system.

5. Shift to biogas technology for the mitigation of green house gases which will have a mitigation potential of 512 Mt of Carbon Dioxide.

6. Adopt resource conservation technologies such as no-tillage, laser land leveling, direct seeding of rice and crop diversification which will help in reducing in the global warming potential.

Adaptation to Ensure Food Security

7. Breed improvement programme for the indigenous breed and the pedigree selection programme need to be initiated.

8. There is a need to implement the Ration balancing programme through which it is possible to increase milk productivity and reduce the cost of milk programme.

9. Propagate those fodder varieties which are able to withstand high ambient temperatures.

10. There is a need to realize the full potential of technologies (developed by the CSSRI for the sodic soils of the indo-gangetic plains and for the deep black soils with subsoil sodicity by ICRISAT, Patancheru) and to adapt them on a large scale.

11. There is a need to implement and communicate early weather detection systems of weather events.

12. There is a need to reverse the subsidy policy followed by the government and provide subsidies to the farmers who rely on indigenous source of farming rather than chemical fertilizers.

13. Provide a market for the local produce (such as the mid-day meals) and it will help in reducing the pressure on the food producing regions.

Experiences of local communities with Climate Change

14. Affirm and protect the role and contribution of traditional communities.

15. Empower the local communities by allowing them to make decisions on agriculture, water resources and biodiversity.

16. There is a need to recognize and strengthen the role of women.

17. There is a need for formal recognition of the rights of the pastoral people who are playing an important role in maintain the ecological balance. There is also a need to provide them with specific infrastructural support.

Coping with Climate Change impacts

18. There is a need to identify economically important insect pests and pathogens at the national level that are most sensitive to temperature, moisture and Carbon dioxide regimes.

19. Need for generation of data on epidemiology for predicting pest development in the context of climate change and also to conduct a regular survey to map the distribution of pests and to identify the new pests.

20. There is a need to develop a ‘micro scale’ understanding of the problem of groundwater management and to also develop local databases rather than regional databases.

21. There is a need to re-strategise and re-think the recharge policy of groundwater keeping in mind the variability of ground water supply across the country.

22. Promote the development of wasteland and water resource management.

Badlaav 2009 – Be the Change

Badlaav 2009 was a youth summit on climate change organized by the Indian Youth Climate Network (IYCN) from July 18 to July 23, 2009 in New Delhi, India. Held at the American Embassy School in Chanakyapuri, approximately 200 individuals from across India attended Badlaav through the 6 day youth summit. The major components of the summit included morning plenary sessions, knowledge and skills based workshops, creative workshops and lots of other fun activities.

Objective:

Educating the common people on climate change

Activitiesdone:

Morning Plenary Sessions

Each day began with a morning plenary session where individuals engaged in climate change and other social justice action spoke with the participants, inspiring them and telling their own stories.

Knowledge Based Workshop Sessions

Throughout each of the days, many knowledge based workshop sessions were held to provide participants with knowledge that that would be useful to them in their organizing action on climate change. More often then not the knowledge based workshops were linked to MDG’s to make it more relevant for the Indian context in terms of how India would be impact in all areas of social justice and development. Given the nature of Badlaav 2009’s agenda (concurrent sessions), the participation levels varied for the knowledge based workshop sessions. On the whole, the participants indicated that they found these sessions informative and useful.

Skills Based Workshop Sessions

Throughout each of the days, many skills based workshop sessions were held to provide participants with the skills that would be useful to them in their organizing action on climate change. Both knowledge and skills based workshops were run by members of IYCN and other NGO’s either working on climate change, with youth or on other social issues (associated with MDGs).

Creative Sessions

Throughout each of the days, many creative skills were held to provide participants with an opportunity to connect climate change with creativity. These included the community radio workshops; street theatre workshops etc.

Others

The schedule for Badlaav 2009 was varied to ensure that participants, especially those who had travelled to attend, would feel inspired and have great fun while thinking about and talking about climate change. Hence there were additional components including a play, skits, a cultural night, a climate flash dance, film screenings etc.

Conclusion:

Badlaav 2009 can be considered a success in the interest and passion it generated in the youth that came from across the country to attend. As the Indian Youth Climate Network (IYCN) moves forward with initiatives including the Agents of Change (AoC) program and the National Days of Action, there are hundreds of engaged youth from Badlaav 2009 ready and willing to take action on climate change within a local, national and international context.

Within the backdrop of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), Badlaav 2009 provided participants with the opportunity to make connections between various issues of social justice including climate change.

The methods adopted by us to create the awareness:

We arranged a short lecture in our class to educate our classmates on climate change and summits related to climate change.

(Photos revealing the above act are attached)

We created a poster showing the green initiatives and effects of climate change.

(Photos revealing the above act are attached)

We made people more sensitive to climate change and tried to create a sense of urgency to act on the issue, by means of a video and presented a paper on global warming and climate change in our college.

(Video is attached)

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