The Major Economies Forum, a platform for ministerial discussions on energy and climate issues, wrapped up today after two days of meetings focussing on preparing for the summit on climate change in Cancun in November 2010. The Forum was chaired by National Security Advisor for International Economic Affairs Michael Froman and led on the United States side by Todd Stern, Special Envoy for climate and Deputy.

At a press interaction on Friday State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said, “We are going to see if we cannot continue our dialogue among major developed and developing economies to make progress in meeting our objectives on climate change and the Clean Energy Challenge.” He added that there was clearly a gap between the views of the developing and developed world, and “We are going to see if we can, through the course of this discussion, narrow that down.”

Indian Minister of State for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh, who could not participate due to the volcanic ash cloud from Iceland disrupting travel plans, also touched upon the question of divergent views among climate change interlocutors.

In his statements to the Forum, which he shared with The Hindu, Mr. Ramesh stressed the importance of “reducing the huge ‘trust deficit’ that prevails in the climate change negotiating community.” To do so, Mr. Ramesh argued, it should be recognised that the two-track negotiating process is the only one that has legitimacy that even though the Copenhagen Accord was important. He further said that “visible triggers” were needed to ensure that “Cancun does not repeat Copenhagen.

One such trigger would be the start of the actual disbursement of the $10 billion promised by the developed countries for this year for vulnerable economies and another could be an agreement on the United Nations Collaborative Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries, he said.

Mr. Ramesh also stressed India’s emphasis on the need for equity in arrangements for mitigating the effects of climate change, saying that such arrangements “must be firmly embedded in a demonstrably equitable access to atmospheric space with adequate finance and technology available to all developing countries.”

Finally he also questioned the “mantra” ‘internationally legally-binding agreement’ which, he said, some developed countries kept chanting: What does it mean in practice, he asked, and what consequences of non-fulfilment would follow?

The Major Economies Forum has so far held five meetings at the leaders’ representatives level and one leaders meeting in July 2009 at L’Aquila in Italy. The declaration following the leaders’ meeting agreed on various goals including undertaking nationally appropriate mitigation actions, adaptation to the adverse effects of climate change, a global partnership to drive transformational low-carbon, climate-friendly technologies, scaling up of financial resources for mitigation and adaptation and a continuing schedule meetings to coordinate the fight against climate change

The 17 major-economy members of the Forum are: Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, the European Union, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and the U.S.

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