Amid an attempt by rich nations to dilute the line between developed and developing countries while framing a rule-book for implementing the Paris Agreement, India along with its BASIC partners – Brazil, South Africa and China – on Wednesday strongly opposed any such move and made it clear that there should not be any backsliding on the global deal which was reached in the French capital exactly three years ago on this day.
Breaking their silence on the issue, all the four countries jointly expressed that they were willing to show “certain flexibility” to arrive at positive outcome of the ongoing UN climate change conference (COP24), but it won’t happen at the cost of the Paris Agreement.
The negotiations at COP24 are meant for framing a rule-book for implementation of the Paris Agreement post-2020. “We are in a complete agreement that there should be no backsliding on the Paris Agreement,” said Derek Hanekom, South African minister and head of the country’s delegation, while referring to what the group stand for here at COP24.
Hours later, while making India’s country statement, additional secretary in the environment ministry and head of delegation, A K Mehta, clearly spelt out what they want and the red lines that must not be breached at any cost. “We all agree that the Paris Agreement is non-negotiable. Therefore, the delicate balance reached between developed and developing countries must be retained, and the principles such as equity and Common but Differentiated Responsibility and Respective Capabilities (CBDR-RC) must be given its due,” said Mehta while delivering the country’s statement on behalf of India’s environment minister, Harsh Vardhan.
He said, “The outcome at Katowice should be inclusive, consensus based and an integrated package including all the components of Paris Agreement Work Programme to reflect the global consensus reached three years ago on this very day while adopting Paris Agreement. Most importantly, we must stand with the poor, marginalised and vulnerable communities who would be most impacted by climate change to show that we are.”
During the joint BASIC press conference, the South African minister referred to instances where certain comments from rich nations’ negotiators were made, raising an alarm bell on how the developed countries were trying to dilute the CBDR.
Though none of the delegation leaders took name of any country during the press conference, the reference was obviously towards the US-led rich nations’ block. It is learnt that the attempts to dilute differentiation – the point which keeps developed and developing countries separately in terms of their responsibility towards climate actions and financial commitments – are being made by the US, Japan and Australia with EU being a silent supporter of the rich block on this front in the negotiation room.
Negotiators in many developing countries believe that such an attempt of the rich block may not be good for the outcome of the COP24 if the developed countries continue to push for dilution in the CBDR.
Besides, the existing disagreements among developed and developing countries on key issues, primarily finance and reporting on countries’ climate action and support, have also emerged as stumbling block. The BASIC nations are, however, hopeful as they believe that some of these concerns would be addressed in the draft text of the COP24 outcome (on rule-book of the Paris Agreement).
The Chinese head of delegation, Xie Zhenhua said that they (BASIC countries) would like to show flexibility to arrive at positive outcome of the COP24. He said some progress had been made on contentious issue of finance, but they would be able to take a call on their joint stand after assessing the draft text.
Slow progress of negotiation amid certain contentious issues was flagged by even the UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres here on Wednesday. Raising his concerns, he said, “Failing here in Katowice would send a disastrous message to those who stand ready to shift to a green economy. So, I urge you to find common ground that will allow us to show the world that we are listening, that we care.”
Expecting political will from leaders to make COP24 a success, Guterres while speaking at closing of the high-level segment of the Talanoa Dialogue said, “The Katowice package needs to deliver the Paris Agreement Work Program (rule-book), progress on finance and a strong and solid basis for the revision of National Determined Contributions (NDCs) under the Talanoa Dialogue.”
Talanoa Dialogue, conceived by Fijian presidency of the COP23 last year at Bonn, is aimed to help countries take stock of their current climate actions, and decide how to raise their ambition for the next set of national climate pledges in 2020 to further cut down global emissions.
The contentious Article of the Paris Agreement on climate finance (Article 9) deals with issue of extending financial support by rich nations to developing countries for assisting them in both their mitigation (emission cut) and adaptation actions. This has, however, become the most controversial element of rule-book discussions as the rich nations have been consistently opposing an ex-ante review of their financial commitments. Besides, there is not even a consensus on what ‘finance’ (public, private or aid) should mean.
Enhanced transparency framework (ETF) for action and support (Article 13) is the other key matter of disagreement. Under this, all countries are required to report on their climate actions and also on the support they get. It has become a major red line for developing countries as their rich counterparts do not willing to provide flexibility (less stringent reporting requirements).