New Delhi: India has agreed to be associated with the Copenhagen Accord—with some riders—in an 8 March letter to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
Seeking consensus: Minister of state for environment Jairam Ramesh. Ramesh Pathania / Mint
“First, the accord is a political document and is not legally binding. It is not a template for outcomes. Second, the Copenhagen Accord is not a separate, third track of negotiations outside UNFCCC. Third, the purpose of the Copenhagen accord is to bring about a consensus in the existing and on-going, two-track multilateral negotiations process under UNFCCC,” Union minister of state for environment Jairam Ramesh told the Lok Sabha on Tuesday.
India’s latest move is in sync with its stand that the accord should not in any way bypass negotiations held under the auspices of UNFCCC.
Also Read Copenhagen accord comes under threat
The US, however, has proposed to UNFCCC that the Copenhagen Accord should be the main document on which future action is negotiated. It has also indicated that the so-called long-term cooperative action (LCA) group should be given less importance than the accord, since LCA texts have not shown much consensus.
The LCA group’s mandate is to decide what happens to climate change action after 2020.
China, India and Brazil have, however, submitted similar letters saying that negotiations need to be under the LCA group and the accord cannot replace that. The BASIC nations—Brazil, South Africa, India and China—have repeatedly asserted that all negotiations will continue on previous tracks.
“China and India have made it clear that the Copenhagen accord is only a political guidance,” a senior government official said on condition of anonymity. “In our understanding, if you want to take it forward, you will have to get it accepted under the UN framework through all parties.”
India has indicated that at least four-five sessions of the groups under UNFCCC should be held before the conference of parties at Mexico this December. “The total period of negotiations in these sessions should be at least 10 weeks,” said India’s proposal for the year’s activity.
The accord was thrashed out by 26 countries in December at Copenhagen. Countries who were not included in the group have criticized its non-representational nature. Also, UNFCCC did not officially adopt the accord because of lack of consensus.
During the Copenhagen negotiations and after, most countries announced that the accord was a political agreement, including UNFCCC executive secretary Yvo de Boer.
The US proposal makes it seem “like the Copenhagen accord is now the only platform and the LCA text has no place,” the official said. “This is a clear attempt to set aside any more work on the Kyoto Protocol and the LCA group. Even parties who supported the accord categorically mentioned that the UN is still the platform for negotiations.”
Support for the accord has been dwindling since the UN asked all countries to indicate their backing for the agreement. India and China avoided mentioning the accord in their letters to UNFCCC earlier this year, Mint reported on 19 February.