Cracks Appear In G-77 Bloc On Day One

  • Date: 07/12/09

The Times of India: The opening day of the meeting of 193 countries on climate change at Copenhagen was meant to be an occasion for reinforcing political rhetoric and niceties. But even before the meeting began, dark news of cracks within the biggest bloc of developing countries — G-77 plus China — started showing up.

The G-77+China spokesperson told the gathered negotiators that the developing countries were not at all happy with the “common but differentiated responsibilities principle” being discarded. It is also learnt that some member countries of the developing country bloc, in internal parleys, have demanded that emerging economies also undertake some form of commitments and get their actions scrutinised.

The signs of friction within this large and diverse group appeared even as there was talk of the Association of Small Island States (AOSIS) — the group of nation-states that are most vulnerable to any rise in sea levels caused by global warming — preparing its own draft of a political declaration at the end of the Copenhagen talks.

The four BASIC countries — Brazil, South Africa, India and China — had on Sunday shared their draft with the G-77 bloc hoping to get their buy-in and finally table it before all the countries officially. If the G-77 is able to come out with a single draft with the inputs of all members, it would put tremendous pressure on developed countries in the second half of the week when political-level talks begin.

But if AOSIS and other smaller groups put separate texts on the table, G-77’s bargaining position would be weakened, explained sources.

The BASIC Four’s draft itself had come up, with China taking the lead, as a reaction to host Denmark’s proposal, which the emerging economies had found contrary to the UN Convention and Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Bali Action Plan, which ensures the “polluter pays principle” — in other words, calls upon the developed West, which has historically been the biggest polluter, to bear the bulk of mitigation costs. In order to get the backing of the more diverse G-77 group, the BASIC Four had kept only the most basic and fundamentally agreed principles in their text, hoping to convince the rest to sign on.

The speculated upon AOSIS draft, negotiators in the G-77+China block fear, by raising indirect demands for commitments from large economies and scrutiny of their actions, could create a cleft at a stage when they require a united front and big numbers to put the developed countries on a backfoot.

But sources said, the recent moves by the key players — US, China, India, Brazil and South Africa — in what was seen in some quarters as an early indication of the big guys cutting a deal outside Copenhagen, had alienated the smaller economies in the G-77+China group. With the declaration of a domestic target in Delhi, some partners are asking if we have undermined formal negotiations at Copenhagen even before they began.

“This creates a deficit of trust,” said an Indian negotiator. “The tactic of our group is to ensure that the game is played in the other group’s half of the field. G-77+China would like to control the negotiations from the start but a crack in the team will weaken its defense,” a G-77 negotiator from an African country — himself a football fanatic — told TOI

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