Rich nations led by the United States and European Union forged an alliance on Wednesday with the least-developed and island nations that can drive a wedge between developing countries and isolate emerging economies like India and China as climate talks in Paris enter a decisive phase.
The “ambition alliance” of 79 countries from Africa and Pacific Islands – part of the G-77 plus China developing block – as well as the US and Europe was announced in the French capital with financial commitments for these most- vulnerable nations to battle the impact of climate change.
The EU pledged $500 million and the US $800 million by 2020 without clarifying on the nature of the funding, public or private, in addition to an existing development fund.
“The numbers appear impressive but in the past such money has not got delivered,” cautioned a negotiator from a developing country.
Announcing the alliance, US Secretary of State John Kerry said his country will not leave the vulnerable nations “alone in the storm” and the Paris agreement has to assure them they are together in fighting climate change.
These countries can get more money through climate finance as EU and the US want to expand the donor base, saying all countries “willing” or in a “position” to do so should contribute. The definition of expansion may include India in the future.
Environment minister Prakash Javadekar played down the development, saying new groups are formed at such meetings and India is also part of the LMDC and BASIC.
But, Harjeet Singh of the NGO ActionAid pressed the panic button, arguing that the alliance was forged to isolate India at the talks.
“The ghost of Durban has returned,” he said, recalling a similar alliance struck during the Durban climate conference four years ago where 195 countries had decided for a universal climate agreement in Paris.
The new alliance has come out with a common agenda for the talks which includes a dynamic agreement with a once-in-five-years review clause for all to enhance commitments and a uniform transparency system to track climate actions of each country, unbridgeable redlines for India.
The dynamic agreement means automatic enhancement of climate action plans based on periodic review and verification.
Both the US and EU wanted a five-year review of all climate action with a clause to enhance commitments and a uniform transparency regime on actions taken by each country, which has been opposed by a number of developing countries like India.
India’s action plan is valid till 2030 and it had said the systems should be reviewed only when their cycle completes.
It also opposed a new transparency regime saying the existing one based on differentiation should continue.