Climate summit veers towards emerging economies

Climate summit veers towards emerging economies Copenhagen, Dec 9  : After a day of turmoil and a night of fence-building, the majority of 192 countries attending the Dec 7-18 climate summit Wednesday started to discuss an agreement drafted by India and other emerging economies to save the world from the worst effects of climate change.

The so-called BASIC draft - because it was drafted by Brazil, South Africa, India and China - became the main topic of conversation among the 3,500-odd negotiators and over 12,000 NGOs after a draft penned by host country Denmark was pilloried by developing countries.

The Group of 77 and China, which negotiate as a bloc at climate conferences, was scathing about the Danish draft because they said it did not oblige developed countries to cut their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by an appreciable degree, while it put fresh obligations on emerging economies.

The Danes had already backtracked on Monday. Danish Environment Minister Connie Hedegaard had said theirs was not a draft declaration at all but "a discussion paper that has been withdrawn".

So on Wednesday morning the focus shifted to the BASIC draft penned by India and approved by China, Brazil and South Africa at a meeting in Beijing weekend Nov 27. The draft was being studied by the G77 and China grouping from the morning, and leader of the Indian delegation Shyam Saran expected that it would be formally tabled to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) secretariat after approval by the group.

If all countries agree, this draft will be fleshed out and become the Copenhagen declaration. It will take in the main elements of the main negotiating process under the UN's Long Term Cooperative Action (LCA) to combat climate change, as well as developments in the Kyoto Protocol, negotiators from developed and developing countries said in the corridors of Bella Centre, the conference venue.

Negotiators admitted that the draft needed fleshing out. "It was done in a hurry, in response to the Danish draft," an India representative revealed. "It does not have many of the essential figures."

But Saran pointed out that BASIC draft set out the "basic differences in responsibility between developed and developing countries" in the fight against climate change.

"It is clear on the need for commitments from industrialised countries. And on the issue of financing, while it acknowledged that priority must be given to least developed countries and small island states, it says the money must be sufficient for all developing countries for their mitigation and adaptation efforts."

The BASIC draft, a copy of which is with the IANS, says: "To establish a long-term global goal for emission reductions, it is essential for developed country parties to undertake ambitious mid-term quantified emission reduction targets and to provide adequate and effective finance, technology transfer and capacity building support to developing counties. Such a goal shall allow developing countries equitable development space and ensure their right to development, taking into full account scientific basis and economic and technological feasibility."

It goes into great detail on how industrialised countries should finance developing countries to help them cope with climate change - since almost all the GHG in the atmosphere now has been put there by the rich countries.

The money must be apart from foreign aid, it says, and it must be administered in a way acceptable to the poor countries.

The draft talks about an issue raised by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at the recent Commonwealth summit -- the need to guard against trade protectionism in the name of saving the environment.

The nine-page draft shows a way by which the US - the only developed country that has not ratified the Kyoto Protocol, the global treaty to combat climate change - can be part of the global effort to reduce GHG emissions. Its emission reduction targets should be comparable to that of other developed countries under the protocol, it says.

The BASIC draft also says what the emerging economies will do to check their emissions will be reported to the UNFCCC and any action supported by industrialised countries in the form of money and green technology will be subject to international scrutiny - a key demand of developed countries.

The document includes what had been glossed over by Danes - the importance of adaptation, technology development and transfer to help developing countries cope with the effects of climate change that is already reducing farm output, making droughts, floods and storms more frequent and more severe and raising the sea level.(IANS)

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