US, France divided over legally binding nature of Paris climate deal

  • Chetan Chauhan, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Nov 13, 2015 01:32 IST
Boards reading ‘The planet is in our hands’ (L) and ‘We cannot say to our children that we did not know’ (R) are pictured in the site of the COP21, Paris Climate Conference in Le Bourget, north of Paris, France. (AP Photo)

Divide over new climate deal to be decided in Paris this winter was wide open on Thursday, with a spar between two rich nations -- French President Francois Hollande and US secretary of state John Kerry -- over the nature of the proposed agreement.

Kerry had said that there cannot be a deal in Paris if the agreement was “binding” for nations, while Hollande hit back saying Paris will have to deliver a “binding treaty”.

US secretary for state John Kerry, in an interview to The Economist, said that Paris “definitely” cannot deliver a “treaty” which would stipulate binding emission cuts for countries.

The agreement, he said, would contain measures to drive a “significant amount of investment” towards a low carbon economy and will not have binding emission-cut targets like the Kyoto Protocol -- the existing climate protocol -- had.

His statement has brought out differences among the rich nations with the European Union, insisting on a binding treaty to be legally enforced.

The EU believes Paris should deliver a “universal international treaty” with binding targets for each country or else the Paris agreement will have no “meaning”.

French President Francois Hollande on Thursday warned there will be no deal at the upcoming world climate summit unless it is binding.

Agencies quoted the President as saying that “if there was not a binding accord, there will not be an accord”, in reaction to Kerry’s comments.

Nature of the proposed climate agreement that would be applicable from 2020 onwards is the biggest sticking point for 196-nation Paris meeting, starting from December 30.

Countries like United States claim that a universal agreement means all nations should have voluntary target for emission control with a proper review and measurement mechanism.

The EU also wants universal agreement with binding targets for every nation.

The developing world, including India, believes that binding targets should be applicable only for the industralised countries -- responsible for carbon-induced climate change -- as enshrined in the United Nations climate convention.

They also say the developing world should take only voluntary targets as per differentiation implemented in the Kyoto Protocol. The protocol provided for emission cuts only for rich nations, also called Annex nations.

Union environment minister Prakash Javadekar made it clear at a pre-summit meeting in Paris earlier this week that there should be commitment to “differentiation” in all core elements of the Paris deal.

He also sought “realistic” ambition to reduce global warming-causing carbon emissions from the developed world.

Kerry’s statement after the pre-COP meeting indicates that the US is not happy with the way negotiations have proceeded. He also put a question mark over the agreement in Durban in 2011 where it was decided that the Paris deal would be one with “legal force”.

Indian officials who participated at the pre-COP meeting said US will have to play the role of play-maker if Paris has to deliver, or the world will get a weak agreement this winter.

also read

Gunmen kill 60 in attack on police academy in Pakistani city of Quetta
Show comments