Photo: Jacky Naegelen/Reuters
Photo: Jacky Naegelen/Reuters

PARIS: As the climate negotiations entered the second day without resolving the key issue of finance and position on differentiation between developed and developing countries, the group of BASIC nations – Brazil, South Africa, India and China – on Tuesday showed a marked hardening of their position while sending a strong message to the rich world that they were firm and united in seeking a fair deal for millions of people back home.

Clearly drawing a red line, the group emphasized that developing countries, including those under the G77, will never accept dilution of the UN convention that put the developed and developing countries in two different categories under the principle of the Common but Differentiated Responsibilities (CBDR) which they said must be “at the heart of the Paris agreement”.

The principle of CBDR makes it obligatory for rich nations to take enhanced action in the form of emission cuts and to financially help their poor and developing counterparts, keeping in mind the fact that the developed world has been historically responsible for global warming.

The joint public stand of the group came just a day before the expected first overview of the final agreement. The French presidency of the climate summit (COP21 – 21st conference of parties) had on Monday expressed its objective to have a first overview of the final agreement by Wednesday so that the deal can be signed as scheduled on Friday.

India’s environment minister Prakash Javadekar, who was present in the joint briefing made by the BASIC group, said it would depend on the “collective wisdom” of the parties (countries) whether the deal would come in next 80 hours or 100 hours.

He also reiterated that developed nations need to “first implement the convention principles and then move to the next step.”

His Chinese counterpart Xie Zhenhua too expressed similar sentiments and forcefully pointed out that all developing countries were united on these points.

They earlier jointly said that BASIC was firmly committed to securing an outcome that would “safeguard the interests of all developing countries under the Convention”.

They in a joint statement also urged developed countries to progressively and substantially scale up their support in the post-2020 period, with $100 billion per year as a starting point, in order to fulfill their obligations under the Convention.

It appears at this juncture that the group would like the agreement to carry a commitment of financial obligations stating predictable sources for these funds.

All the four countries, at the same time, categorically rejected the proposal of the rich nations to broaden the donors’ base by including in it some emerging economies like China and India. The group said it would continue to support other poor and developing countries as part of their bilateral agreement and south-south cooperation (cooperation among developing countries), but it would not be part of the Green Climate Fund (GCF) which is entirely the obligation of rich nations.

Showing a bit of flexibility on the issue of reviews, the group said that all four countries support the establishment of a global stock-taking of overall implementation of the Paris agreement and progress towards achieving the objective of the Convention and the global temperature goal. The group at the same time appears very clear that the path of 1.5 degree celsius temperature rise limit, if finally accepted, would be the obligation of the rich nations who are historical polluters.

However, they underlined that the “global stocktake should cover mitigation, adaptation and means of implementation in a comprehensive manner”. Periodicity of the review is still debated. Though there is a broad consensus on a five-year period, India wants that it to be done after 10 years as it submitted its climate action plan till 2030 unlike countries who had given targets till 2025. Showing a little bit of flexibility for the success of the Paris summit, India may agree for the five-year period, provided it would not be obligatory for it and other developing countries to raise their ambition in 2025.

“The BASIC countries leadership is important for an equitable, comprehensive and ambitious deal at Paris. Today BASIC ministers have shown both firmness and flexibility. They have clearly spelt out their red lines. Now it is on the developed countries to show flexibility and propose compromise solutions”, said Chandra Bhushan, deputy director general of the New Delhi-based think-tank Centre for Science and Environment (CSE).

He said the statement of BASIC ministers included concerns of other developing nations like Least Developing Countries (LDC). “For the next 3-4 days, the BASIC must push for operationalising differentiation between the developed and developing countries in all elements including fairness in the utilisation of carbon space by different countries in the future. This is the key for Paris and beyond”.