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Key developing country bloc puts climate ball back in rich-country court

26th April 2010

By: Christy van der Merwe


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Ministers representing the Basic group (Brazil, South Africa, India, China) urged all so-called ‘Annex 1' countries (rich nations) to raise their level of ambition on greenhouse gas mitigation. They also reiterated that it would be impossible for developing countries to implement mitigation actions in the absence of commitments by developed countries to the provision of finance for developing countries.

The Ministers, who gathered for a third meeting in Cape Town on Sunday, emphasised that equity would be decisive for reaching any climate agreement.


The Copenhagen Accord sets a global goal of keeping temperature increase below 2°C above preindustrial levels, without jeopardising economic growth and poverty alleviation.

"This implies a certain global carbon budget," the Minister's noted in a joint statement.


The implications of such a budget for individual countries required should, the bloc argued, be based on a multilateral agreement about equitable burden-sharing, including:
- historical responsibility for climate change;
- the need to allow developing countries equitable space for development; and
- adequate finance, technology and capacity-building support provided by developed countries for all developing countries.


Support was voiced by the Basic group for the conclusion of an international legally binding agreement on climate change, in Cancún, Mexico in December 2010, or in South Africa by 2011, at the latest.

The Ministers noted that internationally binding legal agreements already exists in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and its' Kyoto Protocol.

They stated that negotiations should follow a two-track approach, which firstly, develops an outcome in the formal negotiations underpinned by the principles of equity and common but differentiated responsibility and respective capabilities; and secondly, uses the 2010 $11-billion fast-start funding to develop, test and demonstrate practical implementation approaches to both adaptation and mitigation, which can be used to inform the comprehensive package.

Areas where progress could be made before Cancún were listed as: the early flow of finance pledged by developed countries; implementation of the ‘REDD+' (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries) mechanism; architecture of technology development and transfer; adaptation framework encompassing implementation programmes; and, a work programme on measurement, reporting and verification of commitments to finance, technology and capacity-building support by developed countries, starting with a common reporting format for financial contributions by developed countries.
The Ministers further noted news reports that domestic legislation in the US had been postponed and indicated that the world could not wait indefinitely, as it hinders ability to reach an internationally legally binding agreement.


"A step-change is required in negotiations, and incremental progress on its own will not raise the level of ambition to the extent needed to avoid dangerous climate change and impacts on poor countries and communities."

The UNFCCC was recognised as the only legitimate forum for negotiation of climate change. "Small groups could make a contribution in resolving conflicts, but they must be representative and their composition must be determined through fully inclusive and transparent negotiations, with a mechanism for reporting back to the multi-lateral forum," the Ministers added.

Ministers emphasised that Basic was more than a forum focused on negotiations. They supported collaboration among experts from Basic countries and welcomed the creation of an on-going forum, including work on adaptation and mitigation action plans and scenarios.

They confirmed that the basic countries would continue their consultations, and scheduled the next basic meeting for the end of July in Brazil, followed by a meeting in China at the end of October 2010.

In attendance at the meeting in Cape Town, were: Minister of the Environment of Brazil Isabella Teixeira; National Development and Reform Commission of China vice chairman Xie Zhenhua; Minister of Environment and Forests of India Jairam Ramesh; and Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs of South Africa Buyelwa Sonjica; Minister in the Presidency of South Africa Trevor Manuel; South African International Relations and Co-operation Deputy Minister Sue van der Merwe; South African Environmental Affairs Deputy Minister Rejoyce Mabudafhasi.



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