The slugfest on legally binding nature of any future climate treaty got intense on Monday with the European Union proposing a declaration of "reassurance" from individual nations on wrapping up negotiations on such a treaty by 2015.
The move aimed to get some promise on a binding treaty --- central point of debate in Durban -- before the high level segment of ministers start on Tuesday earned an immediate rejection from China and India.
"We will agree to emission cuts after 2020 only if the rich countries deliver their promises by 2015," said Chinese environment minister Xie Zhenhua, who turned the table on rich nations on this issue. He wanted them to first provide US 100 billion for Green Climate Fund, US $ 30 billion for fast track finance, technology transfer and an adaptation framework for least developing countries before China announces emission cuts.
India, seen as a vocal detractor of legally binding treaty, has expressed concern at the direction in which the discussions on legal forum were going. In an intervention on discussion on long term co-operative action, India said the mandate of the working group was not to include the broader elements of the future climate regime.
Before the ministers arrived, India wanted its concerns regarding review, legal forum, Kyoto Protocol caught in a logjam and a bid to re-open Green Climate Fund to be addressed in a document been prepared for the ministers to adopt on Friday.
India's intervention came when rich nations backed by least developed nations tried to push their agenda of killing the basic elements of Kyoto Protocol and re-starting discussion on the fund which was agreed in Cancun in 2010.
India also wants that the transparency regime for financed and non-financed mitigation actions of the the developing world should be precise without much technical guidelines at Durban.
Japan on Monday said it does not support second commitment period for Kyoto Protocol but support carbon credit trade mechanism, an integral part of the protocol.
Environment minister Jayanthi Natarajan spent most of her day holding bilateral meetings with differet groups.
She held long meetings with climate negotiators from United States, European Union and Basic group, of which India, China and Brazil are members.
India has stuck to its position that climate treaty should be based on the common but differentiated responsibility ---- a principle of the United Nations climate convention --- which did not envisage emission cuts for the developing world.
It has resulted in some isolation for India as China and South Africa --- India's partners in the Basic group --- are agreeable to binding climate treaty. India's opposition is also seen as going back on its promise made by former environment minister Jairam Ramesh in 2010 when he agreed for binding treaty under an appropriate legal forum.
But, India has a tacit support of United States, whose chief climate negotiator Todd Stern did not support the road map proposed by EU. More than legally binding treaty, Stern emphasised on the extent of emission reduction pledges of individual countries.
"What would be pledges of emerging economies is more important," he said.
In the morning, European climate commissioner Connie Hedegaard suggested that 195 countries attending the climate conference in thisport city can agree to a road map to have a legally binding climate treaty. She made it clear that the road map should include milestones for emerging economies (such as India and China) to declare their emission cut targets.
She also wanted the United Nations convention on climate change to stamp its proposal on carbon tax on aviation and martime transport, the move opposed by majority of developing world including India.African group, which is expecting a positive outcome for the least developed nations in Durban, does not expect "empt shells".
"Rich nations should provide show climate leadership and emerging economies should also contribute," Yacob Mulugetta, the group's head.