Time runs out for climate pact

Time runs out for climate pact

India feels only a miracle can save talks

Time runs out for climate pact

India feared that, but for a miracle, the talks would  collapse.  As negotiators raced against time to hammer out a deal,  four developing countries — Brazil, South Africa, India and China (BASIC) — on Tuesday issued a joint statement accusing the rich nations of trying to derail the talks.

The best that over 100 environment ministers assembled here have achieved is to avert a collapse of the United Nations’  conference.

A collapse looked a strong possibility during intense closed-door negotiating sessions between government delegates overnight, with rich nations sticking to their point that they would not do anything more to avert climate change unless emerging economies agreed to international inspections of their own actions.

This was rejected once more by the BASIC group, according to a delegate who was at some of the meetings.

To add to that, the group of African countries and the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) wanted to walk out of the negotiations once more, because their concerns were not being addressed.

Then the emerging economies “saved the day,” Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh said.

Delegates said Ramesh and environment ministers from the BASIC group  held separate meetings with other developing country groups and persuaded them to stay on and participate in the negotiations.

But the negotiations kept going backwards, with six new draft treaties presented overnight. Months of meetings will follow if all of them are to be considered. Of them, the “BASIC draft” prepared last month in Beijing  now has the maximum chance of getting into any Copenhagen Agreement.

A delegate from France said: “The draft says so little that almost everyone can agree to most of it.”

Crucial issues

It leaves up to future negotiations crucial issues like the extent to which rich nations should cut their emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) that are warming the planet, or how much money they should pay poor countries to deal with climate change effects.

It does make clear that no developing country would be legally bound to cut or cap its GHG emissions, and its domestic actions to move to a greener future would not be subject to international scrutiny, except for specific projects financed by rich countries.

The United States is refusing to make any commitment unless emerging economies “come on board” for international scrutiny, as US delegation leader Jonathan Pershing put it. That remained the main issue holding up a Copenhagen Agreement, though there were plenty more.

India’s demand

Meanwhile, in a late night development, the second draft for an agreement incorporated a key demand of New Delhi relating to emissions from deforestation and funding for mitigation projects.

A member of the Indian delegation noted that Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) has been included in the section that deals with mitigation actions by developing countries as well as for funding for REDD plus.