India seeks legally binding commitments for developed nations

India seeks legally binding commitments for developed nations

India seeks legally binding commitments for developed nations

Protestors run off with a balloon representing the volume of one metric ton of carbon dioxide during a demonstration in Copenhagen on Monday. AP

The crucial talks at the climate change summit were suspended briefly yesterday following a walkout by the BASIC bloc, including India and China, protesting that the rich countries were making attempts to shirk responsibility in tackling global warming. The Africa also group boycotted the proceedings briefly.

The talks resumed after the BASIC bloc succeeded in extracting an assurance from the Chair that the summit would proceed in a "fully transparent" manner without any "surprises".

Indian Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh made it clear that the goal now is to produce two texts under the Long Term Cooperative Action (LCA) track and KP tracks by Wednesday or Thursday morning.

The BASIC bloc and Africa want the developed countries to make mitigation pledges under the second commitment period from 2013-2018 but the European Union, Australia, Japan, Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) want a document broader than the existing Protocol that puts obligations on the United States and on emerging economies.

Ramesh said that the President of the 15th Conference of Parties (COP) Connie Hedegaard had stressed that these two texts would be presented to heads of state when they arrive on Dec 17-18, and also mentioned that Hedegaard had said that a document with minimal "brackets" (alternatives within the text) could also be adopted.

"That is our expectation," the minister said.

"We have made clear that heads of state should not negotiate drafts or texts," he said, adding that they had received reassurances from the president of COP 15, Denmark, Britain, US, Brazil and China but that Australia might still try to initiate negotiations between the world leaders.

"It is also expected that there they will be some kind of Copenhagen Declaration prepared by the Danish government.

"We hope that will be the result of a transparent consultative process and that it would not be sprung on us out of the blue," Ramesh said.

Meanwhile, Indian Environment Secretary Vijai Sharma said: "We are hoping at this point of time because all the delegates are working hard and there is still some time left before the high level segment convenes and hopefully there should be good results on both the tracks."

The overall Climate negotiations are moving under two tracks -- the first track is LCA under Bali Action Plan that requires parties to produce a legally binding treaty before the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol ends in 2012.

The second track is the extension of the KP into the second commitment period from 2013 to 2018 where developed countries listed under Annex B will have to take binding cuts. The US, however, is not a party to the Protocol.

However, there is lack of clarity on this point as Hedegaard told BASIC ministers and the G77 chairs that there will be no Copenhagen declaration or political statement.
"There is still no clarity," Ramesh said.

Noting that there was a great deal of confusion on the several aspects of the negotiations, he said, "It is not clear how the US will reflect its commitments given the uncertainty on their legislation".

Meanwhile, Ramesh reiterated that the integrated Africa-BASIC (ABASIC) draft was ready in the wings and warned that if any of the other groups sprang a surprise draft like the Danish text then the G77 countries would put out this text.

"We are holding it... if there is a 'Danish' we will produce ABASIC," he said.

Delegates from 192 countries have been for a week attempting to hammer out a climate change texts before the heads of state/government from over a 100 countries including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and US President Barack Obama arrive later this week.