Paris is in the headlines nowadays. Not just because of a terror attack on November 13, but also for the ongoing climate summit attended by almost 200 countries.
Both terrorism and climate change are perhaps the two biggest challenges Planet Earth is facing today. Both pose a threat to mankind, more than what the ‘evils' of the two great wars had, but the tragedy is there is yet no definite answer to the perils.
Paris talks look promising but...
The climate summit in Paris is being highly discussed. An anxiety can be seen in the international ranks about global warming. Compared to some of the futile environment summits of the past, the ongoing summit in Paris looks more promising. But yet, there is more possibility of the event ending as a talking shop of little use. Just like the international community's fight against terror.
The world's problem is lack of consensus
It is a worry that the international community has not yet succeeded to lay out a common policy to tackle global warming, just like it has failed in giving terrorism an objective definition.
We don't yet know we who is a ‘terrorist' and who is a ‘freedom fighter' or who all are fighting on the God's side and those on the side of the Evil even as bloodshed continues.
In the case of climate change, there are similar differences in perception as the developing countries are not ready to abide by the advice of the developed ones after the latter have made use of their share in exploiting nature for development. And rightly so. But what about a solution?
The ‘LFM' problem of climate change
Limits (a goal of limiting global warming to not more than 2 degree Celsius over pre-industrial levels by the end of the century), fairness (Developing nations want the industrialised countries to do more emission cut for they have polluted for longer period of time) and money (pledge from rich economies to provide $100 billion a year to poor countries from 2020 to develop technology/infrastructure to cut emissions) are the three main concerns at the Paris summit and there are little chances that these will be settled.
The problem with the fight against climate change, just like that against terror, is the lack of consensus. The political and economic equations are enormous and indispensable today for almost all countries. The reason for this is the global spread of democracy.
The stakes across the world are too diverse today
Take for example, the debate over climate change. Earlier, for instance in the 1972 environmental summit, the argument was clearly divided between the North and South. In the days of the Cold War, the North-South divide was an undeniable reality.
In 2015, South-South cooperation is no more a stable factor. Globalisation has caused enough division in the South camp itself, just like terrorism, and that makes it immensely difficult for the planet to reach a common position on a key issue like global warming.
Among the developing states, the emission rates of China and India are a big cause of concern. Can the standards of emission be equally defined for these two countries with some other comparatively insignificant country?
Development is another big hindrance
It may sound ironic but development is another big obstacle on the way. The political leadership of each and every nation today, including the rich ones, has to sell the idea of development each day to accommodate the massive increase in population. Or else, its own survival will be under threat. With stakes so high, can any nation afford to compromise?
The world is still helpless against the agents of terror because there is no unity in the camp against it. Countries like India and Pakistan or the West and Russia can hardly take a common stand on terror, whether sponsored by state or non-state actors.
The ideological differences are almost impossible to be bridged in the war against terror. The only answer to terror attacks has been air-bombing but that itself breeds more terror. So it's a futile effort.
In the case of climate change, too, the game is unequal to be concluded successfully. The developing nations have to compete for their everyday survival and will not be ready to compromise on something the developed countries have done for over centuries.
In Paris, we may see at the most a US leadership speaking positively (lame-duck President Barack Obama will try to go down in history as the one who tried valiantly) and the world leaders at least speaking in one voice (in the wake of the Paris attacks) but without any clear action on the ground.