BEIJING :: In an unprecedented move, India on Saturday joined China and two other developing countries to prepare for a major offensive on rich nations at the Copenhagen conference on climate change next month.
The four countries, which include Brazil and South Africa, agreed to a strategy that involves jointly walking out of the conference if the developed nations try to force their own terms on the developing world, Jairam Ramesh, the Indian minister for environment and forests (independent charge), said.
“We will not exit in isolation. We will co-ordinate our exit if any of our non-negotiable terms is violated. Our entry and exit will be collective,” Ramesh told reporters in Beijing.
The move comes after reports suggested that rich nations led by Denmark are trying to set the agenda of the conference by presenting a draft containing a set of specific proposals.
The BASIC countries-Brazil, South Africa, India and China- decided to throw the gauntlet at rich nations by coming up with a counter-draft that will be presented at the conference. They agreed to let China, which initiated the exercise, to present the draft of the developing nations at Copenhagen.
“This BASIC draft fully meets India’s goals and aspirations. We hope it is made the basis of discussions at the conference,” Ramesh said.
The draft, which was originally prepared by China, was finalized after some changes during a 7-hour long meeting of BASIC countries-Brazil, South Africa, India and China besides Sudan as the chair of G-77.
This joint front forged on Saturday is a major political initiative -- the first major India-China accord on international affairs--that is likely to impact not just the dimension of the talks on climate change but international diplomacy as a whole. The move comes after recent discussions on climate change held with Indian and Chinese leaders by US president Barack Obama, who appears to have made little impact on them.
Denmark is expected to unveil its draft to a group of select countries that includes the United States, several European nations, India and China on December 1. It will be later presented at the conference. Around the same time, the BASIC nations plan to circulate their own counter-draft in order to influence the course of negotiations.
The four nations issued a joint press release, which made it clear the developed nations should be ready to contribute funds and share green technology if they expected the developing and poor nations to take major actions on environmental protection.
The four countries and the chair of G-77 said they were keen to make a “contribution towards a consensus in Copenhagen”.
The release said: “We are in agreement on major issues including those relating to the establishment of a second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol, as well as shared vision for long term cooperative action on climate change, mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions, adaptation to the impact of climate change, and the provision of finance and technology to support and enable these actions, taking into account the special needs of the least developed countries, the small island developing states and African countries.”
The United States, which refused to endorse the Kyoto Protocol on climate change, might find it difficult to handle the new onslaught mounted by four developing nations including India and China. They are demanding an extension of the Kyoto Protocol.
In fact, there are serious questions on whether US president Barack Obama will keep his promise of attending the Copenhagen conference on climate change next month to avoid pressures to accept a “second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol”. Obama recently met both Chinese leaders and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in order to soften the stance of developing nations and avoid exactly the kind of situation that is now emerging.
Besides the elements of the Kyoto Protocol, there are “significant new features” in the draft proposal worked out by BASIC countries-Brazil, South Africa, India and China-at a meeting here on Saturday, Jairam Ramesh, minister of state for environment and forest said.
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These countries have decided not to allow rich nations to make climate change an excuse to set up trade barriers or resort to trade protectionism. Rich countries should be ready to contribute funds for stopping the process of forest degradation including the one in Amazon valley in Brazil and also invest in the process of creating new forests.
The developing nations will also not accept any pressure from developed countries to establish legally binding emission targets at Copenhagen. Developing countries want to be allowed to reduce emissions voluntarily and take what they consider to be “nationally appropriate actions” he said.
Ramesh said India will under no circumstances accept the concept of a peaking year under which each country will have to indicate on what date they will reach the highest level of pollution before beginning to come down.
India will also not accept any unsupported mitigation actions without any effort by developed countries to provide funds and technology support to improve environment in developing nations.
New Delhi has also set its face against any international measurement, reporting and verification of the work done in India for environment protection.
The Indian minister said that China, Brazil and South Africa were also in agreement on these issues.
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