TWN Info Service on Climate Change (July10/02)
6 July 2010
Third World Network
Indian Minister calls for equity to be
put back in Chair's text
Published in SUNS #6959 dated 6 July 2010
Geneva, 5 Jul (Meena Raman) -- In a statement to the Major Economies
Forum (MEF) held in Rome on June 29-30, Indian Minister of Environment
and Forests, Mr. Jairam Ramesh, said the issue of equity, equitable
access to the carbon space and equitable burden sharing (in emissions
reductions) seems to be sliding out of the negotiating discourse, and
needs to be brought back into the mainstream of the climate negotiations.
He called for the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change's meetings
in Cancun in December to be "an equity-based conference"
and not one that "gives a burial" to equity in the climate
Criticising the most recent draft text issued by the Chair of a working
group at the UNFCCC's meeting in Bonn in June for deleting relevant
parts on equity, Mr. Ramesh called for the re-installation of two paragraphs
that had included the need for the equitable access to atmospheric space,
including that this matter precede the choice of limits to the increase
in global temperature.
He also said the issue of "measurement, reporting and verification"
(of mitigation actions and of the commitments of developed countries
to transfer finance and technology) cannot be seen or agreed in the
absence of the critical issue of equity in the climate change discussions.
"This is critical if we are to have an international agreement
at Cancun," he added.
In a statement presented at the MEF meeting, the Indian Minister called
for the restoration and operationalisation of the equity paradigm in
sharing atmospheric space in the climate negotiations. A copy of the
statement was obtained by TWN.
The MEF on Energy and Climate was launched by US President Barack Obama
on 28 March 2009. The 17 major economies participating in the Forum
are Australia, Brazil,
Canada, China, the European Union, France, Germany,
India, Indonesia, Italy,
Japan, South Korea, Mexico,
Russia, South Africa, the United
Kingdom and the United States.
"Carbon space is development space and therefore we must agree
on an appropriate methodology to determine carbon space that has been
used up and that can be used in future, the rights and allocations for
this space between developed and developing countries, including the
implications for finance and technology transfers to developing countries,"
said the Indian Minister.
"It is critical that we arrive at an operational set of formulae
on equity based primarily on cumulative per capita emissions,"
said Minister Ramesh further.
"Some scholars have also suggested that allocation of per capita
emissions must be supplemented with the fact that the level of development
of a country is important in determining what level of per capita emission
may be appropriate," he added.
"A country with low per capita income, with little infrastructure,
few climate-friendly technologies and little organisational capacity
requires a higher per capita emissions entitlement compared to a developed
country with well developed infrastructure, technology and capacity.
Thus, the carbon space concept also means that poorer countries need
more carbon space in order to achieve the same level of per capita income
than richer countries."
The Minister also expressed hope that the 16th Conference of Parties
to be held in Cancun in December this
year "becomes an equity-based conference and not one that gives
a burial to it."
The Minister said that the 10 June 2010 text of the Chair of the Ad-hoc
Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action (AWG-LCA) was rejected
by most Parties.
Referring to paragraph 2 of the text which reads "Deep cuts in
global emissions are required according to science, and as documented
in the Fourth Assessment Report of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel
on Climate Change), with a view to reducing global emissions so as to
maintain the increase in global temperature below [1.5] degrees Celsius
above pre-industrial levels, and that Parties should take action to
meet this objective consistent with science and on the basis of equity,
taking into account historical responsibilities and access to global
atmospheric resources," the Minister had two observations on the
"First, this paragraph has no reference to the foundational principle
of CBDR (common but differentiated responsibility) and respective capabilities,
which is enshrined in United Nations Framework Convention on Climate
Change (UNFCCC). This is unacceptable," he said.
The Minister also in this context referred to a speech made by US climate envoy,
Todd Stern, at Brookings Institution some weeks back, and said that
Stern had "given a completely new interpretation to CBDR - new
to the rest of the world, that is. I think we need to understand this
interpretation in some detail".
The Minister continued: "Second, this paragraph omits the need
for a paradigm for equitable access to precede any agreement. This is
unacceptable. Any discussion on a global goal - whether for limiting
temperature increase or emissions reduction - is incomplete, meaningless
and impossible in the absence of such a paradigm. There is no substitute
for the equitable access paradigm. Unilateral pledges, for example,
do not and cannot substitute for this paradigm."
Mr. Ramesh said that "equitable access has been an integral part
of previous texts in the AWG-LCA, for example, in the LCA Chair's text
in Copenhagen that was adopted in Copenhagen and was also
in the present Chair's May (17th) 2010 text."
The Minister said that this was in two places of the Chair's facilitative
text of May 17th as follows: (1) that a goal for emissions reduction
as part of the shared vision must include "taking into account
historical responsibilities and an equitable share in the atmospheric
space"; and (2) that Parties recognise the broad scientific view
that the temperature increase should not exceed 2 or 1.5 or 1 degree,
"preceded by a paradigm for equal access to global atmospheric
The Minister said that he would "therefore strongly propose that
all of us agree to restore these texts in the relevant two places and
send the message to our negotiators."
"Moreover, it is vital that these principles be operationalised
so that the equity paradigm in sharing atmospheric space is spelt out
in practical terms," stressed the Minister further.
"The carbon budgets approach, made explicit by think tanks in Germany,
UK, Brazil, China, India and other countries as well as the South Centre
in Geneva, provide a useful basis for conceptualising and operationalising
equity, and must be brought to the mainstream of our discussions and
negotiations," he said further.
He referred to an international conference on "Global Carbon Budgets
and Equity in Climate Change" that India
hosted on June 28-29 in Mumbai, which had participants from Germany, UK,
Brazil and Malaysia, and
said that "the proposals on equity and carbon budgets were discussed
in great detail." [See TWN Info Service on Climate Change (July10/01)
dated 5 July 2010].
"The BASIC Group (Brazil,
South Africa, India and China)
is meeting in Rio de Janeiro
in late-July and we have set aside a day to have a technical workshop
on equity related issues. These are important discussions and we must
now bring these concrete proposals from the margins into the core of
our negotiations," said Minister Ramesh.
"If only lip service continues to get paid to equity, and if we
pay obeisance to it only in words and think we have addressed the issue,
I am afraid that no international agreement will be possible,"
stressed Mr. Ramesh.
"Therefore after the workshop in Rio,
the BASIC and other developing countries would like to bring our concrete
proposals to the other members in the UNFCCC. We hope that a workshop
can be organised so that negotiators can discuss how to integrate these
concepts and how to operationalise the equity principles into the negotiations
and the negotiating text. India would be delighted to host a meeting before
Cancun to enable this discussion,"
Minister Ramesh also addressed the issue of MRV (measuring, reporting
and verification) of mitigation actions and commitments of developed
countries at the MEF meeting.
He said that paragraph 4 of the Copenhagen Accord "enjoins the
Conference of Parties to develop appropriate guidelines for MRV of actions
of developed country Parties."
"This is important to recall and stress since the entire focus
in the MRV debate over the past year has been on developing country
mitigation actions. It is also important that such an MRV regime includes
not only MRV of emission reduction commitments but also MRV of the targets,
time-frames and regimes related to the transfer of finance and technology
to developing countries," he added.
"The MRV on finance assumes urgent importance, for all of us need
to know very clearly how much of the additional $30 billion pledged
by the developed countries during 2010, 2011 and 2012 has materialised
so far; how precisely are disbursements to take place; what the mix
between bilateral and multilateral assistance is; and to which countries
and for what purposes are the funds going to flow. The one area where
there is some clarity is REDD-plus where $4.5 billion has been pledged,"
said the Minister.
(REDD-plus refers to reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation,
including forest conservation, sustainable forest management and enhancing
forest carbon stocks).
"Four crucial action points are embedded in paragraph 5 of the
Copenhagen Accord (relating to developing country mitigation actions).
(1) Mitigation actions of non-Annex I Parties to be communicated to
UNFCCC Secretariat through NATCOM (national communications) consistent
with Article 12.1(b) (of the UNFCCC), every two years, on the basis
of guidelines to be adopted by COP; (2) Mitigation actions taken by
Non-Annex I Parties will be subject to their domestic measurement, reporting
and verification (DMRV), the result of which will be reported through
their NATCOMs every two years; (3) Non-Annex I Parties will communicate
information on the implementation of their actions (nationally appropriate
mitigation actions - NAMAs) through NATCOMs, with provisions for international
consultations and analysis under clearly defined guidelines that will
ensure that national sovereignty is respected; (4) NAMAs seeking international
support will be recorded in a registry along with relevant technology,
finance and capacity building support. They will be subject to international
measurement, reporting and verification in accordance with guidelines
adopted by COP," elaborated the Minister.
The Minister made the following suggestions in this regard to put these
four action points into practice:
-- "International consultations and analysis as envisaged in action
point # 3 above must be based on country implementation reports (derived
from the respective NATCOM) prepared by the individual countries themselves
so as to fulfill the respect for national sovereignty' promise contained
within action point # 3 itself. A chapter/issue format for such reports
can be agreed to by the COP."
-- "The frequency of international consultations and analysis can
be somewhat akin to the graded system adopted by the WTO for its trade
policy reviews - some countries get reviewed once every two years, some
others once every four years and most others once every six years or
more depending on share of world trade."
-- "There has to be a multilateral anchor for the international
consultations and analysis process. The Subsidiary Body on Implementation
(SBI) of the UNFCCC should consider, sooner rather than later, how this
process should be set in motion. SBI functions under the Convention
to perform this kind of work and has fairly well laid out procedures
in respect of reports of both Annex I and Non Annex I countries. We
should allow SBI to get on with this task and fulfill the expectations
resulting from our current state of negotiations."
Stressed the Minister further, "it bears repetition that the regime
for MRV for Non-Annex I countries cannot be more onerous than that for
the Annex I countries either in form or content or the consideration
of their actions. Non-Annex I countries should have a regime that is
subject to consideration in terms of Article 10. 2 (a) of the UNFCCC."
The Minister emphasised that the issue of MRV cannot be seen in the
absence of the critical issue of equity in the climate change discussions.
"Without a working paradigm of equitable access to carbon space,
what exactly will be the role and nature of MRV is far from clear and
cannot be agreed," he added.
"MRV must include a determination of an allocative principle and
an equitable allocation of carbon space. This is particularly relevant
in the context of the adequacy of actions of developed countries. This
is critical if we are to have an international agreement at Cancun,"
Minister Ramesh said further. +
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