The biggest and the most important UN conference kicked off yesterday on an upbeat note with promises by leaders to achieve an agreement that would be adequate to prevent a climate change catastrophe. But day one also saw rifts appear in the G77, the largest bloc consisting of 130 developing countries.
The BASIC bloc- consisting of Brazil, South Africa, India and China- on Sunday pushed forward a proposal together to the G77 hoping to come up with a common declaration of demands from Copenhagen that would cement their common positions as opposed to the developed world. The proposal was drafted in response to the Danish proposal which called to put India, China, Indonesia and other developing countries in the same category as developed nations and expected binding commitments of CO2 peaking year and contribution to the climate change finance fund.
The BASIC proposal reinforced the demand to negotiate only under the aegis of the UNFCCC, the Kyoto Protocol and the Bali Action Plan. The Kyoto Protocol segregated the developed and the developing countries while the Bali Action Plan’s vision outlines that mitigation action by developing countries was voluntary. The Danish plan suggests an alternate plan that would do away with both of these frameworks for negotiations.
The BASIC proposal also included an idea for different commitments and timeline for USA compared to the rest of the developed countries as it was not a party to the Kyoto Protocol.
The first rift in the G77 bloc was Brazil’s new position that it would no longer accept a separate schedule for the Americans. India’s environment minister Jairam Ramesh said that the BASIC proposal’s key strength was the potential to include everyone and Brazil had ‘dropped a spanner in the works’.
To represent the diversity of the G77, the proposal had included only previously agreed fundamental principles and expected the smaller subsets of the group like the Association of Small Island States (AOSIS) and Least Developed Countries (LDC) to buy-in and have a comprehensive group proposal ready before next week’s political negotiations began.
Now there is a buzz among the negotiators of India and China that the AOSIS group has decided to draft their own independent proposal because the BASIC proposal was inadequate in addressing their concerns. Already negotiators from various developing countries were concerned that India and China had undermined the negotiating position of the G77 by revealing targets to reduce emissions intensities and feared this could mean the big developing countries were looking for a deal outside the UNFCCC.
Bangladesh Environment Deputy Secretary said the BASIC
draft did not satisfactorily address the vulnerabilities and preferential treatment of LDC’s including establishment an International Adaptation Centre. He further said that he would not be surprised if the rest of G77 was disappointed by the BASIC draft. Another Bangladesh’s negotiator added that the proposal only considered issues of the four countries.
There is also speculation that separate proposals by AOSIS and other small groups in G77 might differentiate between the big developing countries and the rest of the group, and put further pressure on them to accept legally binding emissions caps.
At this crucial juncture, cracks in the cooperation amongst the developing countries would work in the favor of EU which has been diplomatically trying to carve smaller blocs in the G77 that would also support demands for concrete actions from India and China. For example recently the UK partly funded meeting of nations most vulnerable to climate change called the ‘Vulnerable 14’.