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  • Tenth Delhi Sustainable Development Summit calls for a global integrated action to tackle climate change

    7 February 2010

    The message of the three-day 10th Delhi Sustainable Development Summit (DSDS) , held under the aegis of The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), sent out a clear message to the global community: While the impacts may vary, the nations need to come together as a part of the global community to combat the effects of climate change.

    Themed 'Beyond Copenhagen : new pathways to sustainable development’ , DSDS 2010 saw the participation of all key stakeholders from various parts of the world comprising the Heads of State, ministers, representatives from multilateral and bilateral development organisations, governments, corporate sector, non-governmental organisations, academia, and research institutions.

    The summit called for a global concerted effort to bring about consensus on the Copenhagen Agreement through the science of climate change and the need to operate within an ethical framework. The valedictory session's message was that the overarching need of the hour is to meet the challenge of burden sharing - where the developed as well as the developing nations assume clear responsibilities to ensure concrete results.

    Thanking the 300-plus delegates for making DSDS 2010 an unqualified success, Dr R K Pachauri, Director General - TERI and Chairperson of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), in his concluding address said: "Without dispute, the impacts of climate change would become far more serious over time if the world does not mitigate emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs). Hence, what we need before Mexico is the initiation of activities such as reducing deforestation and degradation as well as specific adaptation measures in some of the most vulnerable regions in the world. Taking such measures in hand early would create momentum and a sense of confidence that would also facilitate a firm and agreement in Mexico."

    Mr Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary of UNFCCC, pointed out three trends that are in collision with each other - developed nations have unsustainable lifestyles; unprecedented depletion of natural resources; and rapid destruction of our ecosystem. He pointed out that (from COP15) in many cases, decisions were 'oven ready', and many difficult issues like long-term finance have progressed, but there is a need for further deliberations. Post-Copenhagen, he has received indications in the form of targets and commitments from 56 nations accounting for 80 percent of GHG emissions.

    Prime Minister of India's special envoy on climate change, Mr Shyam Saran, noted: "Copenhagen's positive contribution was that the issue is much better understood and appreciated at the political level, and due to the large media attention the message has gone across the world creating awareness in the public domain."

    The final day of the 10 th DSDS commenced in style with a dynamic and unique ministerial session -- which included the rare confluence of the current CoP presidency in Denmark, the next CoP presidency in Mexico, the current EU presidency of Spain in addition to representation from France, Italy as well as India. The session deliberated on the likelihood, nature and scope of a legally binding agreement (LBA).

    India's minister of environment and forests (MoEF), Mr Jairam Ramesh, raised core issues that need to be addressed in the run up to Mexico -- the mechanisms and methodologies towards compliance with whatever agreement arrived at drafting a Legally Binding Agreement around the principles of Common but Differentiated Responsibilities and Respective Capabilities, and the need to incorporate equity considerations in the Green House Gas (GHG) flows keeping in mind India and China's development imperatives.

    The three-day Summit saw passionate and inspiring speeches by the Speakers. In her inspiring speech, Prof. Wangari Maathai, Member of Parliament for Tetu Constituency and Nobel Peace Laureate (2004) called for compassion, empathy and values to protect the future of the planet. While reflecting on the Copenhagen outcomes, she highlighted that the countries with informed citizens, include social and environmental issues in their political agendas and campaigns. For countries lacking technology, knowledge, and capital, the environment issues in such countries also include the aspects of large-scale social and political repercussions including human security.

    One such notable session was the ministerial session of Saturday that was attended by representatives from eight countries - France, India, Belgium, Czech Republic, UAE, Australia, Japan and Norway. Recognising the need for creating new energy future, the role of renewable energy was highlighted during the deliberations. The panel discussed main challenges for developing countries like accessing long-term finance at low interests, promoting R&D activities, and building the capacity of necessary human resources. It was agreed that the transition to a clean technology society will not be led by a single country, but all nations need to work together in developing practical technologies. There is an opportunity to decouple economic growth from energy consumption that can be achieved by changing the pattern of energy generation and usage which could lead to less pollution upscaling of projects, the speakers felt.

    The tone and tenor of DSDS 2010 was marked by the keynote address itself by world leaders from 10 countries, who stated that recent attacks on the IPCC by no means damage the credibility of the institution or the science. Efforts need to be made to address climate change concerns immediately. The leaders felt the need to set up an international regulatory authority as and when the legally binding agreements come up. It is imperative to harmonise the development objectives of countries with efforts to address climate change concerns, they opined.

    The curtain-raiser, was the World CEO Forum where the CEOs and business leaders from across the globe stated that although the Copenhagen Summit did not come out with the desired results, yet for the first time it has a long-term goal. It was highlighted that sustainability is not only an environment issue and has evolved into an economic issue. The world needs a driving force as it emerges out of heavy recession, and this could be in the form of alternative green energy. Financial organizations are important catalysts and, as potential game changers, should provide requisite financial incentives to boost green technology.

    The Summit closed with a resounding endorsement of IPCC and Dr Pachauri as the Chairman of IPCC by Rt Hon. John Gummer, MP for Suffolk Coastal, UK.

    Overall, by bringing together the important players from various sectors and focusing on essential building blocks, DSDS 2010 facilitated a careful deliberation on the learning from Copenhagen and the directions that discussions need to take towards Mexico.

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