Less than two months after agreeing to the Copenhagen accord, India, China, Brazil and South Africa, or Basic countries, have moved away from the accord in their communication on domestic mitigation action submitted to the UN.
Till end of January, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) received national pledges to cut and limit greenhouse gases by 2020 from 55 countries, which account for 78 per cent of total global emissions from energy use.
The Basic countries were among the 26 nations that formulated the accord which Copenhagen conference took note of. “We support Copenhagen accord,” Environment and Forest Minister Jairam Ramesh said after a meeting with ministers of Basic countries on January 24.
Things have changed since then.
“Any domestic mitigation action can only be under UNFCCC,” said an environment ministry official. “Copenhagen accord has to be part of the UN negotiations process under the Long term Cooperative Action (LCA) and Kyoto Protocol negotiating tracks.”
Welcoming the move, Raman Mehta of Climate Action Network South Asia said: “I think India and China have realised they have either been misled or cheated. There is a definite rethink on what the accord is going to achieve. Nothing. They have released that UN is the best way to move forward”.
The deviation from Copenhagen primarily happened because rich countries had assured Basic nations that they would get the accord approved at the UN conference at Copenhagen but that did not happen. Latin American countries such as Venezuela and some African nations such as Sudan opposed the accord. Under UNFCCC, all nations have to agree for a decision.
With the accord going for a toss, the rich countries — mandated to reduce emissions under Kyoto Protocol — have submitted targets that could lead to increase in global temperature by minimum three degree Celsius by 2050.
“The commitments would mean catastrophe for South Asia, Africa and the island nations,” sad Shirish Sinha, head of NGO World Wide Fund for nature.
Even in the accord, the rich countries had agreed to limit the temperature rise by 2 degree Celsius. Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of UNFCCC, said “greater ambition is required to meet the climate challenge” but termed the pledges as signals of willingness to move negotiations towards a successful conclusion.