29 november 2009

India, China ready climate draft

Ananth Krishnan, The Hindu, November 29, 2009

Brazil and South Africa list their “non-negotiable” demands. Four-nation move is a challenge to the West. Draft meets India’s requirements: Jairam Ramesh

BEIJING: Four of the world’s major developing countries on Saturday agreed on a substantive draft declaration listing their “non-negotiable” demands ahead of next month’s climate summit in Copenhagen.

The 10-page draft, which has been signed by China, India, Brazil and South Africa, is being conceived as a counter to the text that will be released by western countries next week as a possible basis for negotiations, when talks begin on December 7.

Officials in Beijing, who did not want to be named, said the idea was to ensure that the western draft, which Denmark would unveil on December 1, “does not get traction” to become the basis for the negotiations.

Beijing initiative

The idea of a counter draft representing the positions of developing nations came from Beijing. Chinese climate negotiators last week wrote up a first text, which underwent revisions on Saturday after India, Brazil and South Africa put forward their specific recommendations.

The draft will be released in Copenhagen by Xie Zhenhua, China’s special envoy for climate change, on December 1, the day Denmark unveils its text to a select group of countries, including India and China.

The four developing countries on Saturday also agreed to “co-ordinate” their negotiations positions as well as the timing of their possible exits from the negotiations, said Jairam Ramesh, Union Minister of State for Environment and Forests, and India’s representative at Saturday’s discussions.

Mr. Ramesh said the draft “fully met” India’s requirements and aspirations. Particularly, it underscored what were, for India and other developing nations, four “non-negotiables”: The countries would never accept legally binding emissions cuts, unsupported mitigation actions, international measurement, reporting and verification of unsupported mitigation actions, and the use of climate change as a trade barrier.

“We believe this draft represents a good starting point, and hope this will serve as the basis for negotiations,” said Mr. Ramesh.

“It is a minimum, compromise draft and not ideal. But it takes into account all our concerns, and is realistic as far as international requirements are concerned.”

He said he was only made aware on Friday, by Premier Wen Jiabao, that China had come up with a draft of a possible Copenhagen outcome.

“China has clearly taken a proactive leadership role,” he said.

The draft is anchored in the basic premises of the Kyoto Protocol and the Bali Action Plan, particularly emphasising the provision of finance and technology to support mitigation actions of developing nations.

The four countries, along with Sudan, which attended Saturday’s talks representing the G77 group of developing countries as its acting chair, agreed they would “co-ordinate” their exit from negotiations “if any of the non-negotiables are violated,” said Mr. Ramesh.

“But we are not going to Copenhagen to exit,” he noted.


Copenhagen conference: India, China plan joint exit

Saibal Dasgupta, Times of India, TNN 28 November 2009,

BEIJING: In an unprecedented move, India on Saturday joined China and two other developing countries to prepare for a major offensive on rich nations at the Copenhagen conference on climate change next month.

The four countries, which include Brazil and South Africa, agreed to a strategy that involves jointly walking out of the conference if the developed nations try to force their own terms on the developing world, Jairam Ramesh, the Indian minister for environment and forests (independent charge), said.

"We will not exit in isolation. We will co-ordinate our exit if any of our non-negotiable terms is violated. Our entry and exit will be collective," Ramesh told reporters in Beijing.

The move comes after reports suggested that rich nations led by Denmark are trying to set the agenda of the conference by presenting a draft containing a set of specific proposals.

The BASIC countries-Brazil, South Africa, India and China- decided to throw the gauntlet at rich nations by coming up with a counter-draft that will be presented at the conference. They agreed to let China, which initiated the exercise, to present the draft of the developing nations at Copenhagen.

"This BASIC draft fully meets India's goals and aspirations. We hope it is made the basis of discussions at the conference," Ramesh said.

The draft, which was originally prepared by China, was finalized after some changes during a 7-hour long meeting of BASIC countries-Brazil, South Africa, India and China besides Sudan as the chair of G-77.

This joint front forged on Saturday is a major political initiative -- the first major India-China accord on international affairs--that is likely to impact not just the dimension of the talks on climate change but international diplomacy as a whole. The move comes after recent discussions on climate change held with Indian and Chinese leaders by US president Barack Obama, who appears to have made little impact on them.

Denmark is expected to unveil its draft to a group of select countries that includes the United States, several European nations, India and China on December 1. It will be later presented at the conference. Around the same time, the BASIC nations plan to circulate their own counter-draft in order to influence the course of negotiations.

The four nations issued a joint press release, which made it clear the developed nations should be ready to contribute funds and share green technology if they expected the developing and poor nations to take major actions on environmental protection.

The four countries and the chair of G-77 said they were keen to make a "contribution towards a consensus in Copenhagen".

The release said: "We are in agreement on major issues including those relating to the establishment of a second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol, as well as shared vision for long term cooperative action on climate change, mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions, adaptation to the impact of climate change, and the provision of finance and technology to support and enable these actions, taking into account the special needs of the least developed countries, the small island developing states and African countries."

The United States, which refused to endorse the Kyoto Protocol on climate change, might find it difficult to handle the new onslaught mounted by four developing nations including India and China. They are demanding an extension of the Kyoto Protocol.

In fact, there are serious questions on whether US president Barack Obama will keep his promise of attending the Copenhagen conference on climate change next month to avoid pressures to accept a "second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol". Obama recently met both Chinese leaders and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in order to soften the stance of developing nations and avoid exactly the kind of situation that is now emerging.

Besides the elements of the Kyoto Protocol, there are "significant new features" in the draft proposal worked out by BASIC countries-Brazil, South Africa, India and China-at a meeting here on Saturday, Jairam Ramesh, minister of state for environment and forest said.

These countries have decided not to allow rich nations to make climate change an excuse to set up trade barriers or resort to trade protectionism. Rich countries should be ready to contribute funds for stopping the process of forest degradation including the one in Amazon valley in Brazil and also invest in the process of creating new forests.

The developing nations will also not accept any pressure from developed countries to establish legally binding emission targets at Copenhagen. Developing countries want to be allowed to reduce emissions voluntarily and take what they consider to be "nationally appropriate actions he said.

Ramesh said India will under no circumstances accept the concept of a peaking year under which each country will have to indicate on what date they will reach the highest level of pollution before beginning to come down.

India will also not accept any unsupported mitigation actions without any effort by developed countries to provide funds and technology support to improve environment in developing nations.

New Delhi has also set its face against any international measurement, reporting and verification of the work done in India for environment protection.

The Indian minister said that China, Brazil and South Africa were also in agreement on these issues.

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