BRICS Nations Draw Battle Lines For Paris Climate Summit

  • Date: 01/11/15
  • Ray Courtney, Albany Star

On Saturday, China, South Africa, Brazil and India meet to outlined a joint negotiating scheme before Paris Climate Change Conference at end of November.

Addressing their familiar position on key issues such as ensuring differentiation between developed and developing countries and securing greater financial support from the developed countries.

As the environment ministers of the four countries met for day-long consultations in Beijing, the group took a firm line against any attempts by the West to use the Paris talks to set up any new climate regime distinct from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change which enshrines principles of common but differentiated responsibilities (CBDR) and respective capabilities (RC).

India’s Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar said, “What is most important is some countries trying to rewrite the convention or that they want entirely a new deal. We have said very clearly it will be under the convention with CBDR and RC principles.”

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Indian and Chinese officials used the key meeting of the four emerging countries, called the BASIC group, to draw a line over reports of growing rifts in their respective negotiating positions ahead of Paris. After China struck up a separate bilateral climate agreement with the United States announcing for the first time a peak year for emissions in 2030, besides cutting emissions intensity by more than 60 per cent, some emerging countries including India were left concerned that Beijing’s stand would increase pressure on their own Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs).

China’s top climate envoy Xie Zhenhua rejected that notion, saying that “all countries, south-south and north-south, need to join hands”. Xie added that China and India had kept in close coordination and informed each other of their positions, suggesting that it was not the case that India had been caught off guard by China’s commitment, as suggested by some reports.

Javadekar said there was “no way” the China-US deal exerted more pressure on India, with India’s own announced INDC of cutting emissions intensity by 33-35 per cent “appreciated throughout the world” and exceeding expectations. He pointed out that India, although the third largest emitter, was still not close to where the US and China were and that by the year 2030, when emissions from China and the US were converging, India “will not reach that point at any time in per capita emissions”.

Asked whether India was risking being clubbed in the same category as China by aligning negotiating positions, Javadekar pointed out that the BASIC group over the past eight or nine years had worked together successfully. They had aligned positions in Lima and acted “unitedly”, and would do so in Paris. The BASIC group will meet again in pre-Paris talks on November 9, and also on the eve of the conference on November 29 before heads of government arrive the following day with hopes of clinching a first ever binding agreement.

Saturday’s statement also reiterated the BASIC group’s common demand that the West step up financial commitments, starting with an annual $ 100 billion until 2020 and scaling up subsequently.  The joint statement said that for developed countries public financial resources should be the main source and funds from the private sector could be complementary.

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