Climate Summit 2017

Bonn talks: US and EU oppose assessments of their current climate change commitments

Developed countries do not want to discuss whether they are on track to fulfil their promises to cut emissions and provide funds to developing nations by 2020.

The US, European Union and other developed countries closed ranks at the Bonn climate summit on Wednesday, opposing formal scrutiny of how they have performed so far against their commitments to combat climate change by 2020.

This runs contrary to the demand of all groups of developing countries, without exception, that the Bonn talks should a include a discussion on assessing what negotiators call the pre-2020 agenda – the commitments of developed countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and provide finance and green technologies to developing countries by 2020.

The position of the developed countries ensured that a consensus could not be reached on an issue that has roiled the Bonn negotiations from the first day of the conference on Monday, when developing countries found that the issue had been dropped from negotiations at the highest forum at the summit, called the Conference of Parties.

Till Wednesday, developed countries been silent as Fiji, which is presiding over the Bonn talks, had on the inaugural day of the summit swiftly removed the topic from the official agenda.

At the time, Fiji said that there was no agreement among member-countries on whether the issue should feature on the agenda for the summit at all. Consequently, it said, the pre-2020 discussions would be postponed for the week. It asked Morocco, the country that had previously presided over the negotiations, to hold informal conversations on the possibility of including the topic in the second week of the formal talks.

China, India and other members of the Like-Minded Developing Countries protested, asking countries that oppose a discussion on the pre-2020 agenda to come out and say so. But Fiji did not allow this.

Developed countries come out in the open

On Wednesday, when the informal consultations were held, the US shot down the idea of bringing the pre-2020 agenda back to the table. “We don’t see the need for this item,” it said. “We already have a very important and busy schedule. Everyone in the negotiations rooms complaints about lack of time. There has to be a point where we have to stop adding agenda items. We do not see consensus here, simply because it is being taken up and has been taken up for quite some time.”

The European Union initially said it could prove that it had achieved its pre-2020 obligations. But then it added that discussing this under the formal negotiations at the highest level was not acceptable. Canada, Japan, and Norway also opposed the reintroduction of the pre-2020 agenda. Australia, speaking on behalf of the Umbrella group, which also includes US, Japan and Canada, reiterated this.

These blocks said that various elements of their pre-2020 commitments were being discussed at lower and disaggregated levels in the negotiations and that would suffice.

Developing countries unite

China had pointed out on Monday that the assessment and stock-taking at the highest level was essential to understand if developed countries had actually delivered against their promises. It had found support from India and other nations that are also members of the Like-Minded Developing Countries group.

On Wednesday, most developing country groups came together to support this position of the Like-Minded Developing Countries – a rare situation. “If we are to construct the post-2020 bridge, we will need pre-2020 on the agenda,” said Maldives on behalf of Alliance of Small Island States. Also backing the demand were the G77+China group, the Africa group, the Arab group and the Independent Association of Latin America and the Caribbean.

India listed out a series of promises on emission reduction and provision of finance by developed countries that they had failed to live up to. It noted that even the second phase of Kyoto Protocol (which requires developed countries to reduce emissions against fixed targets by 2020) had not even been ratified by enough rich countries to come into force before the due date. It pointed out that developed countries were in fact supposed to enhance their targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions before 2020 and despite many technical exercises that had shown no results.

India warned that if developed countries were not willing to be assessed and come through on their existing commitments for the pre-2020 period, future discussions on enhancing commitments would merely be “talkshops”.

China endorsed India’s arguments. “If we don’t take action now, when are we going to take action and who will take action?” it asked.

The Africa group said that the developed countries had been unable to meet their targets to reduce emissions before 2020 to keep the global temperature rise capped below 2 degree Celsius from the pre-industrial era. It said the pre-2020 agenda was part of the package agreed in France in 2015 when the Paris Agreement was stitched up for the post-2020 period and these and all previous decisions binding developed countries to act before 2020 should be honoured.

Venezuela backed this up. “This Conference of Parties is an opportunity to send a message to the world that we cannot wait until 2020 to act,” it said.

Brazil said it could not understand why any group of countries would resist having the pre-2020 issues up for negotiations when they all said they valued its importance. “Rejecting this item’s inclusion makes us wonder and question what is behind all that and makes us wonder if the ambition post-2020 is all lip service,” it said.

With the breach between the developing and developed countries so wide, Morocco, which was chairing the session, finally closed it at 8 pm. It asked member-countries to try to find a solution and promised to hold another informal meeting soon.

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Swara Bhasker: Sharp objects has to be on the radar of every woman who is tired of being “nice”

The actress weighs in on what she loves about the show.

This article has been written by award-winning actor Swara Bhasker.

All women growing up in India, South Asia, or anywhere in the world frankly; will remember in some form or the other that gentle girlhood admonishing, “Nice girls don’t do that.” I kept recalling that gently reasoned reproach as I watched Sharp Objects (you can catch it on Hotstar Premium). Adapted from the author of Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn’s debut novel Sharp Objects has been directed by Jean-Marc Vallée, who has my heart since he gave us Big Little Lies. It stars the multiple-Oscar nominee Amy Adams, who delivers a searing performance as Camille Preaker; and Patricia Clarkson, who is magnetic as the dominating and dark Adora Crellin. As an actress myself, it felt great to watch a show driven by its female performers.

The series is woven around a troubled, alcohol-dependent, self-harming, female journalist Camille (single and in her thirties incidentally) who returns to the small town of her birth and childhood, Wind Gap, Missouri, to report on two similarly gruesome murders of teenage girls. While the series is a murder mystery, it equally delves into the psychology, not just of the principal characters, but also of the town, and thus a culture as a whole.

There is a lot that impresses in Sharp Objects — the manner in which the storytelling gently unwraps a plot that is dark, disturbing and shocking, the stellar and crafty control that Jean-Marc Vallée exercises on his narrative, the cinematography that is fluid and still manages to suggest that something sinister lurks within Wind Gap, the editing which keeps this narrative languid yet sharp and consistently evokes a haunting sensation.

Sharp Objects is also liberating (apart from its positive performance on Bechdel parameters) as content — for female actors and for audiences in giving us female centric and female driven shows that do not bear the burden of providing either role-models or even uplifting messages. 

Instead, it presents a world where women are dangerous and dysfunctional but very real — a world where women are neither pure victims, nor pure aggressors. A world where they occupy the grey areas, complex and contradictory as agents in a power play, in which they control some reigns too.

But to me personally, and perhaps to many young women viewers across the world, what makes Sharp Objects particularly impactful, perhaps almost poignant, is the manner in which it unravels the whole idea, the culture, the entire psychology of that childhood admonishment “Nice girls don’t do that.” Sharp Objects explores the sinister and dark possibilities of what the corollary of that thinking could be.

“Nice girls don’t do that.”

“Who does?”

“Bad girls.”

“So I’m a bad girl.”

“You shouldn’t be a bad girl.”

“Why not?”

“Bad girls get in trouble.”

“What trouble? What happens to bad girls?”

“Bad things.”

“What bad things?”

“Very bad things.”

“How bad?”


“Like what?”


A point the show makes early on is that both the victims of the introductory brutal murders were not your typically nice girly-girls. Camille, the traumatised protagonist carrying a burden from her past was herself not a nice girl. Amma, her deceptive half-sister manipulates the nice girl act to defy her controlling mother. But perhaps the most incisive critique on the whole ‘Be a nice girl’ culture, in fact the whole ‘nice’ culture — nice folks, nice manners, nice homes, nice towns — comes in the form of Adora’s character and the manner in which beneath the whole veneer of nice, a whole town is complicit in damning secrets and not-so-nice acts. At one point early on in the show, Adora tells her firstborn Camille, with whom she has a strained relationship (to put it mildly), “I just want things to be nice with us but maybe I don’t know how..” Interestingly it is this very notion of ‘nice’ that becomes the most oppressive and deceptive experience of young Camille, and later Amma’s growing years.

This ‘Culture of Nice’ is in fact the pervasive ‘Culture of Silence’ that women all over the world, particularly in India, are all too familiar with. 

It takes different forms, but always towards the same goal — to silence the not-so-nice details of what the experiences; sometimes intimate experiences of women might be. This Culture of Silence is propagated from the child’s earliest experience of being parented by society in general. Amongst the values that girls receive in our early years — apart from those of being obedient, dutiful, respectful, homely — we also receive the twin headed Chimera in the form of shame and guilt.

“Have some shame!”

“Oh for shame!”




“Do not bring shame upon…”

Different phrases in different languages, but always with the same implication. Shameful things happen to girls who are not nice and that brings ‘shame’ on the family or everyone associated with the girl. And nice folks do not talk about these things. Nice folks go on as if nothing has happened.

It is this culture of silence that women across the world today, are calling out in many different ways. Whether it is the #MeToo movement or a show like Sharp Objects; or on a lighter and happier note, even a film like Veere Di Wedding punctures this culture of silence, quite simply by refusing to be silenced and saying the not-nice things, or depicting the so called ‘unspeakable’ things that could happen to girls. By talking about the unspeakable, you rob it of the power to shame you; you disallow the ‘Culture of Nice’ to erase your experience. You stand up for yourself and you build your own identity.

And this to me is the most liberating aspect of being an actor, and even just a girl at a time when shows like Sharp Objects and Big Little Lies (another great show on Hotstar Premium), and films like Veere Di Wedding and Anaarkali Of Aarah are being made.

The next time I hear someone say, “Nice girls don’t do that!”, I know what I’m going to say — I don’t give a shit about nice. I’m just a girl! And that’s okay!

Swara is a an award winning actor of the Hindi film industry. Her last few films, including Veere Di Wedding, Anaarkali of Aaraah and Nil Battey Sannata have earned her both critical and commercial success. Swara is an occasional writer of articles and opinion pieces. The occasions are frequent :).

Watch the trailer of Sharp Objects here:


This article was published by the Scroll marketing team with Swara Bhasker on behalf of Hotstar Premium and not by the Scroll editorial team.