Copenhagen accord comes under threat

Copenhagen accord comes under threat

New Delhi: The Copenhagen Accord may be in jeopardy as major emerging economies reiterated their stand that multilateral talks under the auspices of the United Nations should have primacy on any agreement to act against climate change.

China on 4 Februarysaid it’s neither viable nor acceptable to start a new negotiating process outside of the United Nations framework convention on climate change (UNFCCC) or the Kyoto Protocol that seeks to limit harmful emissions.

India on 30 January said it has volunteered to reduce emission of greenhouse gases but remained silent on being associated with the accord signed in December. Its stand is similar to China’s.

UNFCCC asked nations to clarify their stand on the accord that was thrashed out by 26 countries; the negotiations did not include all the 190 plus countries covered by UNFCCC. Both India and China, along with the US, Brazil and South Africa contributed to the drafting of the accord.

Brazil has said that it was not in support of the accord as a stand-alone instrument.

“The accord was negotiated by 26 leaders but later the language was changed to give it the format of a plurilateral accord, which wasn’t negotiated," said Prodipto Ghosh, a former environment secretary and part of the Indian negotiating team in Copenhagen.

“The Danish Prime Minister (Lars Rasmussen) and Ban Ki-Moon (UN secretary general) also wrote letters asking countries to associate with the accord, which was taken as a first step to make it legally binding," Ghosh said. “This was exactly what was rejected."

Rasmussen and Ban don’t have the mandate to pursue this document and the interpretation is not acceptable, Ghosh said.

“China being strong means India will coordinate with them," said an official with knowledge of the matter. He spoke on condition of anonymity.

Brazil, South Africa, India and China, also known as the BASIC grouping, typically coordinate among themselves on climate change. They met in New Delhi in January to discuss the issue and will again meet in South Africa in March.

“My own sense is that the (global) negotiations will be carried out as a matter of form and gain momentum only when the US cap-and-trade Bill is passed," Ghosh said “Till then, the negotiations will carry on in a fractious and divisive manner."

He was referring to the US Clean Energy and Security Bill of 2009, which has been passed by the House of Representatives and awaits approval of the US Senate.