India has suffered a setback at climate talks with its key ally South Africa endorsing the view of rich nations that the global climate agreement should be binding for all nations at a meeting last weekend.
India had recently taken a decision not to support any binding emission cuts for developing countries and wanted resolution of intellectual property rights and equity issues, earning criticism from European Union and other rich nations.
At a preparatory conference, before the climate change meeting in Durban to be held in November-December this year, the host South Africa dealt a serious blow to India, while China said it would like to link extension of existing climate agreement Kyoto Protocol beyond 2012 to legal binding commitments for all.
The Kyoto Protocol binds rich nations to mandatory emissions cuts while seeks voluntary climate change action from the developing world such as India and China. Tinkering with the basic element of the protocol will be opposed by India and China at the Durban conference.
South Africa — part of Basic Group comprising India, China and Brazil — has clearly said it was willing to link Kyoto with a legal pact that covers all countries, a statement welcomed by Australia and US as a “positive” move to clinch a deal in Durban.
“Basic Group has opposed any legal binding agreement," said an Indian official, while reacting to South Africa’s shift. India is expected to raise the issue at the next meeting of Basic countries in Beijing in first week of November, the last one before the Durban conference.
South Africa’s move appears to have the backing of other African nations, who form the most powerful negotiating group in climate talks — G-77 plus China. African nations have been tacitly backing the developed world with an eye on getting maximum share of finance to fight climate change.
In wake of the fast changing dynamics of climate talks, India may find itself isolated at Durban. Its additional agenda proposed in Panama City meet has already been termed as a “deal breaker” by US and Europe.