No money, no climate change inspection: India

By Joydeep Gupta, IANS,

Bonn, June 11 (IANS) India will not let the international community check on what it’s doing to combat climate change unless industrialised countries provide adequate financing and transfer green technologies, say government delegates.

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The issue of how to treat intellectual property rights (IPR) of green technologies and who is going to pay the incremental cost of moving to them has been a bone of contention at climate treaty meets for years, and has reared its head again at the June 1-12 talks here that are a preparation to the climate summit in Copenhagen this December.

India has said each industrialised country should pay 0.8 percent of its GDP to developing countries in reparation for putting greenhouse gases, mainly carbon dioxide, into the atmosphere.

An excess of these gases is leading to climate change, which is affecting farm output, making droughts, floods and storms more frequent and severe and raising the sea level. India is among the countries worst affected.

Senior members of the Indian government delegation at these talks under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) said apart from this, they had proposed a global fund that could buy out IPRs of green technologies, and then distribute these technologies free, in a way similar to what is done for HIV/AIDS drugs.

In an open session during the negotiations, India said: “The technology framework must enable support for short-term, medium-term and longer-term technologies. There is a need for a hard look at IPRs to ensure that technology transfer is accelerated especially in areas where there are cartels.”

These have become additional sticking points in the protracted negotiations going on here, as industrialised countries say they cannot commit any financing in these days of economic recession and that IPRs are private property that governments cannot give away.

Industrialised countries have also said developing countries, especially large ones like India, China, Brazil, South Africa or Mexico, must take steps to cut their greenhouse gas emissions, steps that are “measurable, reportable and verifiable”, in the language of the draft negotiating text.

In closed-door meetings, the Indian delegates have said they are not going to agree to this unless there is adequate financing and the IPR issue is sorted out, the delegates said on condition of anonymity.

The Indian position has been echoed by the Group of 77 (G77) countries plus China, which work as a bloc in climate negotiations. On behalf of the group, Bolivia, the Philippines and Indonesia have called in public “exclusion of patents over such (green) technologies”.

The vocal proponents of a strong IPR regime have been Japan, Canada, Australia, Switzerland and the US, an Indian delegate said, adding: “They even opposed the use of compulsory licensing for patented technologies, which is allowed for under the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs)”

Developed countries maintained that a strong IPR regime is necessary to ensure innovation and the development of technology.

Developing countries, on the other hand, argued that there is a need for patent exclusion on climate technologies, given the need for a global and systemic response to address the global challenge of climate change.

Apart from the IPR issue, the US and Australia also questioned the need for new institutional arrangements as proposed by the G77 and China for a technology mechanism to enhance technology development, diffusion and transfer.

Developing countries however emphasised the “legally binding commitment” of industrialised countries under the UNFCCC to enable technology transfer, emphasising the role of governments in this regard.

Meanwhile, a new report by international NGO Oxfam said “rich countries have a “double duty”.

“The deadlock threatening these talks must be broken if we are to have any hope of avoiding a human catastrophe,” said Jeremy Hobbs, executive director of Oxfam International.

“Rich countries got us into this mess and they have the money and the technology to get us out of it. This gives them a double duty – to deliver major emissions reductions at home and provide the money poor countries need to start tackling their emissions too.”

Oxfam estimates that at least $150 billion is needed every year to fund both adaptation and mitigation action in developing countries.

(Joydeep Gupta can be contacted at [email protected])