Reports: India rejects EU climate deal roadmap

Emerging economies insist industrialised nations must extend Kyoto Protocol and step up climate aid before talks can begin on parallel treaty

Hopes that the Durban Summit will result in a new roadmap for a binding global climate treaty agreed by 2015 received a major blow last night, after Indian officials rejected the EU-backed proposals and senior diplomats accused China of failing to clarify whether it will sign up to legally enforced emissions targets.

Reports in The Guardian said that Indian environment minister Jayanthi Natarajan yesterday ruled out signing up to the EU proposal, which would see the Kyoto Protocol extended for a second commitment period on the understanding that all countries, including large emerging economies, agree to finalise a parallel binding treaty by 2015.

The new agreement is expected to impose emissions targets on all major polluters with a view to enacting the treaty by 2020.

The proposal has secured preliminary support from many developing countries, but speaking ahead of a series of crucial meetings between the EU, the US and the so-called Basic countries of Brazil, India, South Africa and China, Natarajan insisted that India is not willing to negotiate any future deal until industrialised nations extend the Kyoto Protocol and make good on all climate aid pledges.

Natarajan argued that industrialised nations have still not fulfilled all their obligations under the first phase of the Kyoto Protocol and, in a reference to Canada, Russia and Japan, accused a handful of nations of preparing to leave the long-running treaty.

She also warned that industrialised nations are guilty of an “ambition gap”, citing a recent report from the Stockholm Environment Institute that analysed the voluntary emission reduction pledges made at last year’s Cancun Summit and concluded that, when various loopholes are taken into account, developing nations have agreed to deeper emissions cuts than rich countries.

The comments are the latest in a series of blows to the EU’s proposal for a new roadmap, after senior Chinese officials signalled that they want to see the Kyoto Protocol extended before any new agreement can be reached, and the US continued to argue that new legally binding emissions targets may not be necessary.

Brazilian envoy Luiz Alberto Figueiredo also offered a lukewarm welcome to the proposals, telling news agency Bloomberg that, while the country has “no problem” with looking at a new timeline, plenty of details will need to be finalised before the country is willing to sign up to any new agreement.

The stand off has led to a ratcheting up of tensions between the main players at the talks.

In an unusually outspoken intervention, EU climate change commissioner Connie Hedegaard told the summit yesterday that “the EU has put a significant offer on the table” and the onus is on other countries to follow suit.

“Even if others are not, we are ready to take a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol - now,” she said. “We do this in order to preserve what it took us all so many years to agree upon. But we must be reassured that others will join us in a new legally binding framework after that second commitment period and when they will.”

Writing later on Twitter, Hedegaard also accused some countries of undermining progress towards a deal while insisting in public that they are looking to reach an agreement. “Sometimes messages are more progressive at public press conferences than in negotiation rooms,” she wrote.

Christiana Figueres, head of the UN climate change secretariat, also sought to crank up pressure on the US, warning that the nation is at risk of losing its position as an economic superpower if it does not step up efforts to cut emissions.

“It’s concerning and sad that the US has lost leadership, not just politically but, perhaps more importantly for them, in their economy,” she told a meeting to launch the second Globe International Climate Legislation study.

“The fact they are losing out on the green economy, losing out on investments in clean energy, losing out on the possibility of being a large exporter of clean energy and technology. It’s something that’s very difficult to understand and one wonders when they are going to wake up to that.”

Figueres was speaking alongside British Energy and Climate Change Secretary Chris Huhne, who challenged the US argument that a non-binding treaty could deliver deep emissions reductions.

“I don’t think President Ronald Reagan would have decided that the best way to deal with the international missile race was through voluntary pledges. Exactly the same thing applies with climate change,” he said.

“The US has recognised the need for a globally binding framework in the past, and I believe the US will recognise it again in the future… One of the most frustrating things about these talks is the way everybody is waiting for the other to go first.”

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