India fears climate talks will collapse

India fears climate talks will collapse

An activist joins demonstrators protesting for a climate change in the center of Copenhagen, Denmark. A showdown between the world's two largest polluters loomed over the U.N. climate talks Tuesday as China accused the United States and other rich nations of backsliding on their commitments to fight global warming. (AP)

As negotiators raced against time to hammer out a deal, four developing countries -- India, Brazil, South Africa and China -- on Tuesday issued a joint statement accusing the rich nations of trying to derail the talks.

Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh, leading the Indian negotiators for working out some sort of a compromise to get developed nations commit to emission cuts and funds transfer to poor countries, said the talks were going "too slow".

He told reporters that enormous work needed to be done before the final deal could be clinched but feared that the talks would breakdown over serious outstanding issues.

India is of the opinion that if a compromise was not arrived at, negotiations to keep the Kyoto Protocol alive beyond 2012 will continue into next year.

Ramesh said India was disappointed that developed nations were being unreasonable. Meanwhile, the UN conference made public the draft text bracketing all key contentious issues on emissions cuts and peaking year for the same. Developing nations, led by Africa, had walked out of the talks yesterday accusing the rich nations of not doing enough to arrest global warming and making attempts to undermine the Kyoto Protocol.

In the joint statement, the BASIC bloc called on the developed countries to commit to legally-binding quantifiable targets and not to ignore or sideline the Kyoto Protocol, which they said should remain the basis of talks here.

The four ministers also elaborated on their own national voluntary mitigation programmes, and slammed the developed countries for offering "less than ambitious targets" in both technology transfer and finance as well as deliberately slowing down the process.

"We want the two track approach to yield results," Ramesh said, noting that "if need be" the parties would leave Copenhagen with a "continuing mandate for 2010. We want an equitable and fair agreement," he said, adding if the Copenhagen talks failed then "BASIC will not be to blame".

"We would have done our best to ensure a positive outcome," he said. He asked developed nations to "resist manipulating or hijacking the mandate of Copenhagen to give it a new meaning," stressing that the talks had to be based on the "troika of the United Nations Framework Convention, the Bali Action Plan and the Kyoto Protocol".

On the issue of Monitoring, reporting and verification of target reductions, Ramesh said there is "no greater MRV" than the Indian parliament, NGOs and India.
"Transparency and accountability is built into the Indian system," he said.

Following the joint statement all four ministers elaborated on the plans that they will be taking domestically to battle climate change. The South African minister noted that developing countries remained vulnerable to water, food insecurity, health and infrastructure but had still decided to take on national voluntary targets to battle climate change even though it was not mandated in the UNFCCC.

Ramesh detailed India's commitments including the pledge to reduce emission intensity by 20-25 per cent by 2020 from 2005 levels, to double renewable energy from 7 to 8 per cent by 2020, to ensure that 7 to 10 per cent of greenhouse gases will be sequestered by forest cover and to double in 10 years the 3 million trees already planted.

Describing India's actions as "legally non-binding," Ramesh reiterated India's position that the national domestic measures will not be subject to Monitoring, Reporting and Verification from abroad.

Presently, the parties at Copenhagen remain deeply divided on key issues. Even as Ramesh was speaking out against international scrutiny, UN Chief envoy on Climate Change Todd Stern was addressing a press briefing where he stressed the need for all major emerging economies to report their national actions in an international treaty.
Ramesh noted that the BASIC countries "were coordinating our positions on an hourly basis. The BASIC group is a basic reality," he said.

 "So far what we have seen is a derailment of the mandate agreed in 2007," Buyelwa Sonjica, the environment minister of South Africa, read out a part of the BASIC statement, noting that there had been constant efforts to "renegotiate key principles". "We will not accept the demise of the Kyoto Protocol," she added.

The overall climate negotiations are moving under two tracks – the first track is Long Term Cooperation (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 Kyoto Protocol into the second commitment period from 2013 to 2018 where developed countries will have to take binding cuts.
The US, however, is not a party to the Protocol.

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.

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