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US will not join Kyoto Protocol like treaty

Written By Gopal Krishna on Monday, December 14, 2009 | 12:03 AM

Canada and Japan have no intention of joining a second phase of the Kyoto protocol. US, EU and Australia too have similar position. Norway proposes developing country treatment for US under a new treaty.

G77 and China stick to Bali Action Plan.

India had no major differences with US

European and Japanese don't want to take on legal commitments unless US commits more

US will not join any treaty that evenly remotely resembles the Kyoto Protocol


Admitting that India and other emerging economies' stand was considerably different from the 43 countries in the Alliance of Small Island States, Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh said that India had no major differences with the United States.

He noted that India was not having a major standoff with the United States but the real differences existed between the China and the developed world as well as the between European Union and the United States.

"India is not in the firing line," Ramesh told journalists in Copenhagen late on Sunday.

However, in the past few days US chief negotiator Todd Stern has told journalists that that it would not suffice for developing countries to just post their domestic action taken to combat climate change for information and that powerful economies would need to demonstrate a greater commitment.

"There is no way to solve this problem by giving the major developing economies a pass," he said.

Stern noted that developing countries -- including Brazil, India, South Korea and China -- had made "significant" proposals but these would have to be "wrapped up" in an international agreement and not captured in "press release domestically".

Despite these glaring divergences, Ramesh told journalists that India and the US were not having problems, but the Americans had deeper contentions with China since it was the largest producer of greenhouse gases.

Instead, Ramesh stated that India as well as other emerging developing nations had divergent views with the Small Island States but India was pushing hard to play a "facilitative" role and bring all parts of the G77 together including the African group and AOSIS.

He admitted that India and other emerging economies' stand was different from the 43 countries in the AOSIS.

"We have to deal with them because they have a different point of view. I have been at pains to stress we do not want confrontation we want compromise and consensus," he said.

Ramesh noted that India and China were in "very close coordination" with several meetings between himself and Chinese Minister Xie Zhenhua in the past two days.

"We meet very frequently. We are coordinating our position. India's constructive role has come in for considerable mention and place. We're not being confrontation. We are trying to get all parties together," Ramesh said indicating he met his counterparts from Brazil and South Africa.

Ramesh said based on his discussions so far it appeared that if Copenhagen failed to deliver "what NGOs are calling FAB (Fair, Ambitious and Binding)" it would not be because of "India or the developing countries but because of differences between the developed world".

"There are differences between the EU and America," he said, noting that the European and Japanese don't want to take on legal commitments unless the Americans also commit more but the US has made it clear that they will not join into any instrument that evenly remotely resembles the Kyoto Protocol.

"The basics issue is credibility of the commitments that the developed world has not been able to fulfill and they cannot hold India and China as excuses for non fulfillment," he added, pointing out that the developed countries had not kept their commitments to peak by 2020.

BASIC-African draft ready

A common Africa-BASIC draft has been prepared though it will not be unveiled as yet, Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh has said.

The text of a potential treaty prepared by the BASIC countries (Brazil, South Africa, India and China) has been merged with another text prepared by the Africa group within the G77.

Ramesh said that all countries had decided to work off the two texts prepared by the Chairs of the Working Group on Long Term Cooperative Action under the Bali Action Plan and the Working Group of the Kyoto Protocol-- both of whom tabled drafts of texts a few days ago.

"We have merged the Africa draft and the BASIC draft. We now have a common Africa-Basic draft but we are not unveiling it now," Ramesh said in response to a question by PTI.

"As of now all countries have agreed that we will negotiate on the basis of these two legitimate drafts prepared by chairs," he said.

Countries introduced a text prepared in Beijing at the end of November.

However, several countries including the Least Developed Countries (LDCs), Alliance of Small Island States and several African countries stated that the text was geared towards the interest of the emerging economies and did not cater to their particular vulnerabilities especially on adaptation.

The AOSIS and African countries were especially concerned about the limit to temperature rise listed as 2 degree celsius and they prefer 1.5 or lower.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has evidence that with a 2 degree cap, some Small Islands are in the danger of being submerged under rising sea levels while others will face catastrophic consequences.

In the integrated draft, Ramesh said both 1.5 degree celcius and 2 were bracketed (subject to negotiation).

"Its not whether it is 1.5 or 2 that is critical, what is critical is the equitable access to atmospheric space. If that principle is accepted you can have 1.5, you can have 1.8 you can have 2," he said.

The minister noted that India's position that a global goal should be preceded by an equitable formula for sharing of atmospheric space was strongly supported by France.

"France has strongly supported India's proposal that a global goal should be based on equitable access for atmospheric space measured in terms of per capita convergence," he said.

However, Ramesh noted that currently both groups had decided to hold back the drafts and continue working on the UN texts. "These are the only two documents that have legitimacy that have been prepared by the two chairs," he said.

The minister warned that if any of the other groups or nations sprang a surprise draft like the Danish text then the G77 countries would put out this text.

"If there is any attempt to derail these two drafts we will unveil that draft. If Australia or Denmark tries to come up with another googly of a draft we will then get into the BASIC-Africa text," he said.

Betwa Sharma in Copenhagen, PTI


Equitywatch's transcript of Jairam Ramesh's press conference on December 12:

On calls for a 1.5 degree limit This not the first that this has been said. Earlier also some island nation states have said that 2 degrees is a too liberal a limit it should be 1.5 degrees. We have decided to to take a 2 degree global goal. But it has to be part of a equitable burden sharing formula, the details of which can be worked out. But we believe the most equitable burden sharing formula is per capita convergence of emissions.

On the question of measurement, reporting and verification (MRV) of mitigation actions
I have had a long discussion with Todd Stern. We are taking this issue forward. As you know there is basic agreement that all actions that are supported by international finance and technology will be subject to international MRV. The debate is on the unsupported actions. Our position is different from the US and the other developed countries but I am hopeful in the next few days we will be able to arrive at a consensus which will be able to satisfy everybody.

India does not suffer from lack of transparency. I think we have a surplus of it. There is a very strong feeling about any verification of unsupported action would be very intrusive. And many countries would like to maintain limits. Take United States for example. It does not allow international verification for biological weapons.

On the US stand that China and India should be exempted from adaptation money India also has a lot vulnerable areas: Lakhadweep, Andmans, Sundarbans. So India is also a microcosm of regions which will badly hit by climate change where a major response would be adaption. So India is going to be a candidate for international finances. But when India becomes a candidate for international finances, others get dropped out. I am sympathetic to the idea that finance should be broad-based.

On AWG-KP and AWG-LCA drafts presented on December 11
We have not rejected the drafts that were submitted today. We have those two drafts. We have some serious concerns on those two drafts. For India, any draft with a peaking year is unacceptable. For India, a draft with a global goal [for emissions reductions] without equitable burden sharing is unacceptable.

On Himalayan glaciers
The general concensus view among the Indian scientific community is, most Himalayan glaciers are retreating; [but] some glaciers are advancing, some glaciers are retreating at a decelerating rate and the link between global warming and retreat of glaciers has not been conclusively established because there is also the problem of cyclical change. We need to measure monitor and model. But we do not need to wait for perfect science to protect livelihood of people who would be affected by these disappearing glaciers

Four texts

Proposals for the overall architecture of a Copenhagen agreement will be discussed in plenary on Saturday

As the sun sets on Friday in Copenhagen, it seems that there are no less than four proposals for structuring a possible agreement that could be signed here.

Recall that the Bali Action Plan set out the essential ingredients of a Copenhagen deal, but it didn't specify what the legal architecture should be. This may seem to be an arcane question, but it actually has significant implications.

The reason is that a new protocol will be needed to commit the US to targets, and to prescribe actions for developing countries... which leaves open the question: what happens to countries that already have commitments under the Kyoto Protocol (i.e. all industrialised countries except for the US)? Do they join the new protocol, or continue to be bound by a second-phase of Kyoto?

Most industrialised countries would prefer to let the Kyoto Protocol die, and thus, take on post-2012 commitments in a new protocol. This way, principles in Kyoto that emphasise historical responsibility could be erased. As you'll gather by reading many of the previous posts, developing countries have been fighting hard to prevent this from happening.

1. The Danish draft
The Danish draft, leaked on Tuesday, appears to have been prepared behind closed doors by developed countries. It not only envisioned a single new protocol to replace Kyoto, but was also weak on targets: there were no proposed numbers for emissions cuts in 2020. Moreover, it opened the door to changing the base year for cuts from 1990 to 2005.

You can find a full analysis of the Danish draft here.

2. The AWG-KP and AWG-LCA drafts
Whereas the Danish draft was prepared informally, negotiators have also been working in formal sessions to develop an overall architecture for a possible Copenhagen agreement. These talks have been proceeding in two tracks, one under the Kyoto Protocol ("AWG-KP") and one under the Framework Convention on Climate Change ("AWG-LCA").

Draft text was made public this morning, and its most notable feature is that almost all the contentious issues remain in brackets, which means that they have yet to be decided. The AWG drafts do envision a continued Kyoto Protocol as well as a new agreement. However, the target for 2020 remains bracketed, as do notional targets for 2050.

3. The AOSIS draft
This morning, the Alliance of Small Island States released its own, informally negotiated proposal for an overall architecture. It too envisions a continued Kyoto Protocol as well as a new agreement, named the Copenhagen Protocol.

Notably, the AOSIS draft calls for temperature increases to be limited to 1.5 C, for global emissions to peak in 2015, and for global emissions to be cut by 85 per cent below 1990 levels by 2050. It also gives a very significant emphasis to adaptation needs - much more so than other proposals currently circulating - and asks that financing be handled under the UN.

4. The BASIC+Africa draft
India, Brazil, South Africa and China had earlier developed an informally negotiated proposal (the BASIC draft) for an overall architecture, which was quietly circulated to some parties and observers.

Today, India's environment Minister Jairam Ramesh announced that a new version of the BASIC draft, would be combined with an African proposal, and released tomorrow, Saturday.

What do all these different drafts mean?
These four drafts are all essentially competing proposals, each vying for the chance to become the final Copenhagen agreement... sort of. In reality, it's hard to tell which elements of the proposals are serious, and which are rhetorical flourishes, intended to influence negotiations a certain way.

We also don't know how the proposals will eventually be combined into a single agreement within a week. Will one be taken as the template? Or will negotiators and Ministers try to draft a new proposal, incorporating elements from all four?

For now, it's expected that the two public texts - the AOSIS draft and the AWG-KP/AWG-LCA pairing - will be presented Saturday in resumed plenary sessions, which the Chair has referred to as a mid-term "stock taking" of the negotiations.

It's also possible that a BASIC+Africa draft will be made public in time for consideration. And, there are rumours that a new Danish draft could also be tabled.
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