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Mainstream, Vol XLVII, No 47, November 7, 2009

Developed Countries Must Pay for Historical and Ecological Debt

Call to Government of India by Concerned Citizens and Organisations

Saturday 7 November 2009

As we write this to the Government of India, different country governments are busy with intense climate negotiations at the ongoing UNFCCC sessions in Bangkok. As people all over the world have realised, the face of climate negotiations has been dramatically altered with the call given by a large number of developing country governments in their official submissions to the UNFCCC, demanding that the climate debt of the developed countries must be repaid, and this payment must begin with the outcomes to be agreed in Copenhagen.

For example, the Bolivian country government submission clearly states:

Developed countries climate debt—the sum of their emissions debt and adaptation debt—are part of a broader ecological debt reflecting their heavy environ-mental footprint, excessive consumption of resources, materials and energy and contri-bution to declining biodiversity and ecosystem services.

Within the same climate justice under-standing, many poor states and communities—all victims of the reckless over-consumption of the Northern countries and the overconsuming elite of the South, leading to a historical injustice in the form of the accumulation of wealth by the overconsumers and deprivation for the forced underconsumers—are also demanding drastic cuts in the emissions by these overconsumers. We call upon the Indian Government to fully support these demands.

This view is gaining ground amongst many developing countries. Seven of them have already signed the official call for reparations and 49 countries have inserted the phrases ‘climate/ ecological debt’ and ‘historical responsibility’ in their official submissions to the UNFCCC. While India has very recently used ’historical responsi-bility’ in its official submission, we feel it is not enough. India needs to strongly support the call for reparations against climate and ecological debt in the ongoing negotiations and stand solidly with the other developing countries.

We appreciate that the Government of India has taken a stand for using public finance for climate funds as against the World Bank, GEF and other IFI funds. This stand needs to be reiterated and we strongly call upon the government to stand firm on its stand against climate funds being sourced from IFIs and GEF.


We urge the Government of India to endorse the Bolivian Government demand: The developed North should be ready to pay reparations against their climate and ecological debt.* Any effort to bring in the private sector into climate funding needs to be strongly resisted by the developing countries. We also urge the developing countries, including India, to ensure that the principle of common but differentiated responsibility is taken beyond the currently employed narrow interpre-tation only at international levels and should be taken right up to the community and household levels. Similarly, mechanisms need to be put in place to ensure that the real ecological solutions are decided in a democratic way and that such steps directly benefit the poor rather than bring additional costs to them.

We, concerned citizens and organisations from India, demand that India along with other developing countries should play a historic role in the climate negotiations, making sure that environmental and climate justice becomes the key instead of ‘false solutions’ on the road to Copenhagen.

Endorsed by :

1. Nadi Ghatti Morcha, CG.

2. MATU Jan Sanghattan.

3. South Asia Network for Dams, Rivers and Peoples (SANDRP).

4. Delhi Forum.

5. Bharat Jan Vigyan Jatha.

*Contained in the provisional agenda of the UNFCCC’s ad hoc working group on long term cooperative action under the convention, for the sixth session in Bonn during June 1-12, 2009.

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