The clock is ticking at the Le Bourget Centre. The latest draft of the climate change agreement is littered with brackets, leaving less than 48 hours for negotiators to resolve their ideological and practical differences by Friday evening. There is a resounding call for compromise to get the deal done, but observers are concerned about leaving COP 21 with a weak agreement to save face and pushing tough decisions down the road. India has flagged its problem areas in the latest draft: elusive finance from rich countries, scaling up on national actions plans every five years, and uniform scrutiny of all plans to combat climate change by an international body.
Exhorting countries to put their differences aside at the Le Bourget Centre, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said, “We have the rarest of opportunities to save millions of people, give the world an agreement it deserves.” Vilified for most of the U.N. Climate Conference as an obstructionist, the Modi government pulled out all the stops to win the perception battle by engaging the media and civil society like never before. New Delhi has tried to explain that India is quite literally stuck between a rock and a hard place.
While India is acutely vulnerable to unseasonal rains, floods, droughts and melting glaciers, it also has huge challenges of poverty eradication and providing electricity to millions of people, which will require burning more coal for the next decade at least. As climate change worsens, India will also have to contend with a rising frequency of extreme weather events like the floods in Chennai, as well as unseasonal rains and other changes in climate patterns which ruin crops and drive farmers to kill themselves.