A new divide has emerged between rich and the developing nations with India and China opposing a move to link trade with reducing carbon emissions.
The developed world, led by the US and Europe, has been talking of imposing a tax on countries that fail to abide by a binding climate treaty, in which India and China will have to take emissions control measures. They argue import tariffs are needed to offset the loss of competitiveness industries in countries that accept binding targets are likely to face. This claim is also being backed by the World Trade Organisation.
The Basic group of countries — India, China, Brazil and South Africa — called it a “unilateral protectionist measure” and rejected it on Monday at a meeting in Tainjin, China.
“(Basic) ministers rejected the notion of unilateral actions against products and services of developing countries on grounds of combating climate change, which will jeopardise international collaboration on climate change and international trade,” said a resolution adopted by the ministers.
The text, which India first proposed in 2009, says developed nations “shall not resort to any form of unilateral measures including countervailing border measures, against goods and services imported from developing countries on grounds of protection of climate”.
“We would like this text to be reflected in the final (climate) agreement,” Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh said at the meeting attended by officials from Yemen, Ethiopia, Venezuela, Argentina and Egypt.
India has said such moves would violate the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Ramesh expressed concern over reports saying some of the measures were compatible with WTO rules. “The report has come as somewhat of a shock to us,” he said.