A Virtual Outcome: Durban Climate Change Meeting
The world of today can best be described as a “virtual-world”! We engage in almost every thing virtual. Virtual-conferences, virtual-exhibitions and even virtual-universities! The huge amount of real data is stored in virtual cloud, now called as ‘iCloud’. Steve Jobs provided us with this virtual platform before his departure from this world.
For me, when I first heard about it , iCloud appeared to be a great fun. Though graduated from Technology institute-IIT-I am not one of those digital ‘ techys’. But I understood well that iCloud is a remote entity, always available to play with-like tossing of the ball. One can push the data from one virtual platform o another which then further bounces it to other devices. This bouncing of data like a volley-ball makes its duplication easy. A feeling that ‘ my data travels wide, lives in the cloud, it’s right there, somewhere in sky, I just have to reach out and grab it when I need’ is wonderful sensation. That extraordinary joy that I experienced when I started using it, even overshadowed my depression and grief which had overtaken me since the death of Steve Jobs. iCloud is such a ‘ feel good’ excitement and much hoopla.
When in the wee hours, almost at the dawn in Durban on 11th December, more than 190 Governments agreed to “Durban. Platform for Enhanced Action”, the first thing came to my mind was this very ‘iCloud’ that I had started using couple of months back. I thought for a moment, is this a ‘virtual platform’? Up in the sky?
After the 2 weeks of heated debates, frustrating dialogues, angry exchanges and even intruding demonstrations the United Nations global annual climate-change summit ended in Durban with an ‘iCloud’. It is a feel-good virtual platform with possibility of enhanced pleasure and immense possibilities of bringing many versions in the market over next 9 years, making it probably an extraordinary international treaty that is being simply negotiated without any substantive action for 30 years in a row!
Set of decisions taken by 194 Parties to UNFCCC included launch of a process for a new protocol or legal instrument that would apply to all members-developed and developing countries, a second commitment period for the existing Kyoto Protocol, Technology Mechanisms, establishing Adaptation Committee and the launch of the Green Climate Fund.
In diplomatic language, which I am used to for more than 20 years now, these decisions can be described with embellishment of optimism ie ‘ essential for stimulating greater action and for raising the level of ambition and the mobilization of resources to respond to the challenges of climate change’ and so on. One can also add to make it sound like scaling a summit: ‘Technology Mechanisms would promote new investments in low carbon economy, continuity of the Kyoto Protocol would provide certainty in carbon market, Green Climate Fund would enable much needed access to the resources for the poor countries for their fight against the climate change’.
Have not we heard it before several times? May be, but now it is being pushed like newly found iCloud to another device called ‘Durban Platform’.
There is another feel-good factor. For the first time, all the countries in the world, whether they are developed or developing, have agreed to undertake the commitment to emission cuts in future. However, these commitments would be agreed over next few years and will be finalized in 2015 and may come into force in 2020 the legally binding emission cuts ma l start after 2020! How does this timetable relate to the serious and urgent challenges if a global temperature rise is to be kept under two degrees Celsius in coming years? And Indian Minister already declared in the parliament that India taking legally biding commitments is out of question. We indeed live in virtual world!
“The big question many will ask is how this will translate into actual emission reductions and by when?” was the question asked by Achim Steiner, Executive director of UNEP.
My another question, however, is: when the cloud starts raining where do all the commitments go? Do we need Steve Jobs back? END