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The Finger-Pointing Will Continue, But No Reductions
 
COP4 in Buenos Aires is likely to be a repeat of all the previous COPs - a lot of hot air and finger-pointing but virtually no action to reduce greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions. The almost useless Kyoto Protocol will be invoked in the same breath with demands that developing countries make concrete commitments while industrialised nations twiddle their thumbs. The reduction targets of the latter group, after all, are in the next millennium, well after the ‘Year 2000’ computer bug! It is amazing that so many developing countries, including China, have signed the Protocol while the US has not even moved in that direction. Why?? Have they (the G77) not learned any lesson from the way the Convention itself was adopted in 1992? They have given the US virtual veto power over the coming into force of the Protocol. So much for saving the climate. In this dream-world of climate negotiations, the global public is being fed the illusion that GHG emissions are being curbed and that global warming will, at most, be a transient freak. The US legislators appear to have seized on this false but convenient picture with the help of powerful lobby groups, especially from the fossil-fuel industry. Instead of admitting and correcting the failure to curb global warming, the world seems to have an almost manic obsession with escape mechanisms like Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), Joint Implementation (JI) and emission trading. The UN agencies have jumped on the bandwagon, organising panels and seminars in many parts of the world on these topics rather than asking why nothing concrete is being done to reduce GHG emissions immediately. From our viewpoint, COP4 will not be a milestone in reducing emissions, but a platform for further damage control, e.g., for plugging loopholes in the Protocol and exposing those who continue to spew out ever-increasing amounts of GHGs almost daily. Holding the COP in a developing country is no comfort, especially since Argentina has shown itself least interested in staying closely with the G77 positions. Let us hope that Latin American NGOs will be able to mobilise the necessary resources so that southern NGOs can match their northern counterparts - in numbers, in lobbying, and in clear-cut messages to the delegates as well as to the global audience. We need to expose the lies and misrepresentations that are flourishing at the expense of the global climate and of the efforts of developing countries.
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ISSUE #22 (1998-09-01)
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