Greenhouse Development Rights at the Bali climate COP
Bali was quite a milestone for the Greenhouse Development Rights project. Not only does the GDRs “book” look great, but our side event (the slides are here; the UN’s archived video, which may or may not work, is listed at 10:30 AM on this page) went very well indeed. And GDRs was also presented or discussed in six other side events, which may be some sort of record. It’s certainly a sign that, against a background of interminable “negotiations as usual,” there’s substantial interest in facing the real challenge — a principle-based burden sharing system designed to be fair, and thus viable, even under the stress of an emergency transition.
This interest is rising among the NGOs, and is already high in the developing world. See for example “The road from Bali”, an excellent piece in the Business Standard (a major Indian business magazine) by veteran diplomat Nitin Desai, which explains the GDRs approach with admirable simplicity. Or Business Rules, a far more “radical” analysis (though published in Front line, a national news magazine) by grassroots activist C.E. Karunakaran that embeds the GDRs analysis in prose that’s far less restrained than Desai’s.
Why has GDRs hit so strong a cord in India? We could speculate, but it’s more important, at least for the moment, to note that the cord is resonating across a wide political spectrum — from “Business Standard” to “Business Rules.” And that the real debate, here as around the world, is not about GDRs but rather about Bali. GDRs is relevant only insofar as it helps us to make sense of what happened there, only insofar as it helps us to measure Bali’s progress (and Bali’s failure) against the real challenges of climate stabilization.
The Bali debate is everywhere, but one easy place to dip into it is via the three articles on Bali that EcoEquity’s Director Tom Athanasiou wrote on Gristmill: Rational expectations, Elephants in the room, and Where do we go from here? The third of these, in particular, raises the key question, well expressed in the old quip about the optimist, who thinks that this is the best of all possible worlds, and the pessimist, who fears that this may well be the case.
Who’s right? We’re going to find out soon enough.