BACK TO MAIN  |  ONLINE BOOKSTORE  |  HOW TO ORDER

TWN Info Service on Climate Change (Mar10/01)
11 March 2010
Third World Network

India and China maintain primacy of UN two-track negotiations
Published in SUNS #6881 dated 11 March 2010

Beijing, 10 Mar (Chee Yoke Ling) -- While agreeing to be listed in the introductory part of the Copenhagen Accord, India and China also reiterate that the global climate change negotiations must continue to take place in the United Nations and that the Accord does not open a new negotiation track.

Letters were sent by the Indian and Chinese national focal points for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to the Secretariat of the UNFCCC on 8 March and 9 March 2010, respectively.

India's letter stated that it "may be listed in the chapeau of the Copenhagen Accord", with its understanding of the Accord "indicated in an appropriate footnote". This "understanding" is expressed in two paragraphs.

India said that "the Accord is not a new track of negotiations or a template for outcomes".

China's letter of 9 March contained one sentence that stated, "the [UNFCCC] Secretariat can proceed to include China in the list of Parties included in the chapeau of the Copenhagen Accord".

However, Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao had earlier in letters dated 29 January 2010 written to Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to say that while the Accord is "a testament to the political will of all parties to actively counter climate change", the two working groups under the UNFCCC and Kyoto Protocol "are the legal bodies for such negotiations", and the draft texts proposed by the Chairs of those working groups in the December climate conference in Copenhagen are "the legitimate basis".

Wen said that, "It is neither viable nor acceptable to start a new negotiation process outside the framework of the Convention and the Protocol".

In the first paragraph of India's "understanding" of the Accord that it has asked to be attached as a footnote, it states that while "India stands by the contents of the Accord", its "clear understanding is that the Accord is a political document. It is not legally binding".

"The Accord is meant to facilitate the ongoing negotiations in the two tracks in accordance with the principles and provisions of the UNFCCC, the Kyoto Protocol and the Bali Action Plan," the letter said.

[The Bali Action Plan was adopted by the UNFCCC Conference of Parties in its annual meeting in December 2007, and is the mandate for the ongoing negotiations to effectively implement the UNFCCC. Among others, it established the Ad-hoc Working Group on Long Term Cooperative Action under the UNFCCC, and this Working Group was mandated by the Conference of Parties in Copenhagen in December 2009 to continue its work.]

The second paragraph in the Indian understanding states: "The Accord was not adopted by the Conference of Parties [in Copenhagen] but just taken note of. However, the Accord could have value if the areas of convergence reflected in the Accord are used to help the Parties reach agreed outcomes under the UN multilateral negotiations in the two tracks, i. e. the Ad-hoc Working Group on Long Term Cooperative Action and the Ad-hoc Working Group on Kyoto Protocol. The Accord is only an input into the two-track negotiations. The Accord is not a new track of negotiations or a template for outcomes."

The letter ended by stating, "With the above understanding, India may be listed in the chapeau of the Copenhagen Accord with the understanding indicated in an appropriate footnote".

[A "chapeau" is an introductory text. The controversial Copenhagen Accord is not a legally binding treaty but a document that was only "taken note of" by the Conference of Parties in the last UNFCCC annual meeting of Parties in December 2009 after it failed to gain consensus as a formally adopted document.

[It emerged from what many governments and observers regard as an exclusive and un-transparent manner involving 29 heads of state and government selected by Danish Prime Minister Rasmussen who was President of the UN meeting. Several participants in that closed room themselves were reported to be very critical of the process.

[Although public attention has been centred on this document that was only "taken note of" by the UNFCCC Parties, the most important documents that were adopted by consensus are the reports of the Chairs of the two UN working groups: the Ad-hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the UNFCCC set up in 2007, and the work of the Ad-hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex 1 Parties under the Kyoto Protocol that had begun its negotiations a few years earlier. The two Chairs' reports include issues that had been agreed to and issues that need further negotiations.]

India's environment minister Jairam Ramesh informed Parliament about the Government's decision to be listed in the chapeau of the Accord, and according to a 10 March report by the Economic Times, he said, "after careful consideration, India has agreed to such a listing." He explained that India has set out three conditions for its assent, which it has asked be indicated "in an appropriate footnote."

Elaborating on India's decision, according to the Economic Times, Mr Ramesh stressed that the Accord "is not a template for outcomes." India has made it clear that the Accord "is not a separate, third track of negotiations outside UNFCCC."

Although China's 9 March letter is a brief one sentence, there are three other letters that have been sent to the UNFCCC Secretariat, all of which have been posted on the UNFCCC website.

The first is a letter dated 28 January communicating to the Secretariat "the information on China's autonomous domestic mitigation actions as announced, for information to the UNFCCC Parties, as follows: China will endeavour to lower its carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP by 40-45% by 2020 compared to the 2005 level, increase the share of non-fossil fuels in primary energy consumption to around 15% by 2020 and will increase forest coverage by 40 million hectares and forest stock volume by 1.3 billion cubic meters by 2020 from the 2005 levels."

The communication was made under specific provisions of the UNFCCC and there was no reference to the Copenhagen Accord (see SUNS #6854 dated 2 February 2010).

Copies of the other two letters, from Prime Minister Wen to Ban and Rasmussen, were sent to the UNFCCC Secretariat on 1 February. These similar letters provide China's position with respect to future negotiations that are to continue under the dual tracks of the UNFCCC and Kyoto Protocol, and in that connection, its views on the Accord (see SUNS #6865 dated 17 February 2010).

With respect to future negotiations, Wen, in both his letters, made three points.

First, he underscored the "political significance" of the "principled consensus embodied in the Copenhagen Accord" for the Bali Roadmap negotiations to produce outcomes.

He pointed to three areas of consensus in the Accord: (1) long-term goals, transparency of the voluntary mitigation actions undertaken by developing countries, and financial and technological support that should be reflected in the draft negotiation texts of the Ad-hoc Working Groups (AWGs); (2) developed countries should set out their specific emission reduction targets as early as possible and submit a detailed plan of contribution to the commitment of US$30 billion (for 2010-2012); and (3) the two AWGs should be scheduled to meet as soon as possible to speed up their negotiations on unsettled issues and make sure that the Mexico Conference will produce comprehensive, balanced and binding outcomes in line with the requirements of the Convention, the Protocol and the Bali Roadmap.

Secondly, Wen reiterated that "the Convention and the Protocol are the main channels for international negotiations on climate change". He said that "the two AWGs are the legal bodies for such negotiations", and the two Chairs' draft texts "which reflect the principles of openness, transparency and broad participation" are the "legitimate basis" for the negotiations.

On the consensus-based decision-making mechanism, Wen said that "it should be upheld, while appropriate ways may be explored to increase efficiency providing that openness, transparency and broad participation are ensured in the negotiation process".

In the two-and-a-half-paged letters, Wen said that the two working groups under the UNFCCC and Kyoto Protocol "are the legal bodies for such negotiations", and the draft texts proposed by the Chairs of those working groups in the December climate conference in Copenhagen are "the legitimate basis".

Wen said that the Copenhagen Accord "is a testament to the political will of all parties to actively counter climate change" and which "reaffirms the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities'".

He stressed that the Accord "has kept alive the dual-track negotiation process established by the Bali Roadmap", and "confirmed the draft texts proposed by the Chairs of the two Ad hoc Working Groups ... as the basis for future negotiations". +

 


BACK TO MAIN  |  ONLINE BOOKSTORE  |  HOW TO ORDER