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Economies clash over carbon

world Updated: Dec 09, 2010 01:58 IST
Chetan Chauhan
Chetan Chauhan
Hindustan Times
Cancun climate conference

The Cancun climate conference offered a mixed bag for India on Tuesday. Environment minister Jairam Ramesh’s proposal for greater transparency in mitigation actions found reflection in one UN draft. Other countries, however, initiated a process to kill the Kyoto Protocol — a move which India resolutely opposes.

The ad-hoc working group on long term cooperative action (LCA) to combat climate change had released two drafts on mitigation and transparency, one each for the developed and developing worlds.

But the developed world draft included elements from a proposal made by the island nations saying emission reduction should be binding for all major polluters, including India and China. This would have been a Kyoto Protocol killer. Under the protocol, rich nations have to reduce emissions while poor nations have to take non-binding voluntary mitigation actions.

“There cannot be two binding agreements at the same time,” said a negotiator. If that were to happen, most rich countries would move to the LCA draft and junk the Kyoto Protocol — something Japan, Australia and Canada have been demanding. The LCA was originally conceived as an agreement for capacity building, finance and technology transfer, issues not covered under the Kyoto Protocol.

Although the new text by the LCA ad-hoc working group says the legally binding instrument would be applicable only to the developed countries as defined by the Kyoto Protocol, India and China fear the status of developing countries may be changed in future draft texts. “It is just a beginning,” a negotiator said.

This move could freeze negotiations. India, China, Brazil and South Africa, called the BASIC group, had said winding up of Kyoto as non-negotiable. The BASIC group sees the island nations’ proposal, backed by European Union and United States, as a replica of the Danish proposal floated at the Copenhagen conference in 2009, which also spoke of alternative binding agreements to Kyoto.

The proposal has divided the developing world: least developed countries led by Bangladesh backed the proposal. Many African countries are also said to be backing the proposal.