Copenhagen: A bad deal is worse than no deal The cat is out of the bag. However, the leaked political draft agreement crafted by the Danes holds few surprises. There is nothing in the draft Twitter Facebook Share Email Print Save Comment that was not known before. Indeed the direction has been obvious since the G-8 meeting in L'Aquila. The desire for a new agreement that negates historical responsibility, diluting obligations to provide finance and technology, dividing the developing world into new categories, requiring peaking of emissions by the more developed developing countries, and the review of domestic actions by international standards — all these have been on the table for some time. The truth is that in our laudable effort to remain engaged, we have been afraid to call a spade a spade. China, India, Brazil and South Africa (the BASIC bloc of four) can't claim to not have seen the Danish draft before. In fact, the BASIC draft version of the political outcome of Copenhagen was crafted in Beijing by them in late November as a response to the Danish draft. The agility of the BASIC group in coming up with an alternative must be commended. India's proactive stance is in line with our Prime Minister's direction to be part of a solution. Indeed, India must not just be seen to be part of a solution, but should take the lead in crafting such a solution because there is no other country or region in the world that will suffer as much as India because of climate change. However, India's position is unique even within the BASIC group. India must give full expression to this difference within the bloc as failure to do so might alienate a wider constituency within the G-77 grouping. But before we get into that, it must be pointed out that India is already a part of the solution to climate change. Between 1990 and 2007 the developed world with a population of the same order as that of India has grown its annual emissions by over 2.2 gigatons despite an obligation under Kyoto Protocol to reduce emissions. India's absolute annual emissions during the period have grown by less than half that while delivering a GDP growth rate that's twice as high! It can be said that India is on a sustainable development path while the rich countries have still not managed to peak their emissions. Coming to our differences within the BASIC, India is bang in the middle of a group of 81 countries that had a 2005 PPP-GDP (GDP calculated not at the official exchange rate but based on purchasing power parity) of $4000 or less. This group accounted for almost half of the then global population but was responsible for less that 9% of the global energy-related rise in CO2 concentrations from 1990 to 2005! Importantly, most of India's socio economic comparators and its Human Development Index lie within this group. So do India's vulnerabilities to climate change — only on a much larger scale! China, Brazil and South Africa are not part of this group. Their PPP-GDP in 2005 was 2.1 to 3.6 times that of India. Brazilian and South African per capita emission levels are already close to European levels and China will reach those levels well before 2020. India's likely per capita emissions in 2020 will be about 30% of current European levels. So, India is the natural leader of the bottom 50% of the world. This is the coalition of the low emitters who will suffer the most due to climate change. Indeed, India has the moral authority and hence the moral responsibility to deliver an equitable solution to this bottom 50% of the world. India is uniquely endowed with the capacity to craft an equitable solution within this group. India's solution must protect every provision of the Framework Convention, the Kyoto Protocol and the Bali Action Plan. India's solution must also protect the right to development that is enshrined in these legally binding agreements and it must ensure that rapid development of the bottom 50% of the world is accepted as the best form of adaptation that the rich can deliver against the consequences of climate change. India deserves a place at the high table. But India will never win the argument by donning a tie on a torn shirt and trying to gate-crash the party of "haves" with Savile Row suits. India must never forget her great son who got us on the high table clad in his dhoti and a walking stick. A 21st century variant of that approach is our only hope to avoid a bad deal. Copenhagen should be seen as a process and not as an event that is an end in itself because a bad deal is worse than no deal at Copenhagen.