Interaction with French Diplomats on the UN Conference on Climate Change
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Nicolas Hulot, Special Envoy of the French President on the Protection of the Planet, accompanied by Laurence Tubiana, France’s Special Representative on Climate Change, visited the VIF on July 27th 2015 for an interaction on issues that are likely to dominate the agenda of the 21st session of the Conference of Parties (COP21), a UN sponsored international conference on climate change taking place in France from November 30 to December 11, 2015. The Indian viewpoints on the subject were put across by four prominent speakers, namely, Prabhat Shukla, Satish Chandra, Ajai Malhotra – all former ambassadors, and Lt General (retd) vinod saighal. General (retd) NC Vij, Director VIF, chaired the session, while Amb Prabhat Shukla, Distinguished Fellow VIF, moderated the discussions.

Underlining the factors leading to the global climate change, General Vij opined that while all countries in the world have a stake in reducing the present high levels of carbon emissions, the developed countries, in particular, have even a greater responsibility towards mitigating the problems of climate change since intense industrialization undertaken by them over 150 years has led to the present crisis, a fact well recognized under the Kyoto Protocol. The Protocol thus places a heavier burden on them under the principle of "common but differentiated responsibilities”. The Director further added that even going by the present statistics, per capita carbon emissions by the western countries are much higher as compared to the developing countries like India. General Vij, however, reiterated India’s commitment to gradually reduce its carbon footprint by increasingly focusing on renewable sources of energy.

Nicholas Hubolt, on his part, speaking for his government, assured the VIF faculty that France, being the host country, would maintain exacting neutrality at the upcoming conference on climate change. He candidly admitted that the Paris conference would need to address both the historic responsibilities of the northern countries in the present climate situation as well as the complexity of the situation for the emerging countries. Pinning his hopes on the collective vision and collective intelligence of the participating countries, he urged them to come up with firm commitments, action plans, means and terms of references in order to achieve the targets on reducing carbon emissions.

Stressing the need for a legally binding agreement on climate change, Ms Laurence Tubiana, France’s Special Representative for COP21, said that Paris has to set a new climate regime which meets all expectations on the future of economies. She further underscored that progressing economies need to invest more on technologies and research that drive them to low carbon economies. While showing her appreciation for India adopting a new vision of development which reflects her concern for climate change, she also urged India to take up a leadership role in the field of solar energy. She further stressed that Paris conference needs to craft an agreement that gives development choices to every country through a common perspective.

The Indian interlocutors, while giving their perspective on the upcoming climate change negotiations at Paris, raised issues such as funding, transfer of technologies, the role of MNCs etc. Maj Gen Vinod Saighal, in particular, said the commitments made so far are simply not enough, especially by the biggest emitters of carbon, while Amb Prabhat Shukla said the debate over climate change has generally remained focused on energy generation while not enough attention has been paid to other sectors such as agriculture or the transport. Showing the way forward, Amb Satish Chandra suggested the right approach to Paris conference would be to analyse the severity of the problem, measure what needs to be done, and thereafter, based on the principle of "common but differentiated responsibilities”, allocate the amount of space available for fresh emissions. Amb Tariq Karim, Amb Kanwal Sibal, and Vice Adm Raman Puri, among others, attended the deliberations.

Event Date 
July 27, 2015
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