The climate change conference virtually collapsed on Saturday without a consensus although U.S. had brokered a political deal with India and three other emerging economies over non-legally-binding emission cuts which was rejected by an overwhelming number of developing nations calling it one-sided and “suicidal“.
As consensus for an ambitious deal to tackle climate change eluded the 12-day Conference of Parties (COP) here, U.S. President Barack Obama pushed for a pact during parleys that went down to the wire.
He put in a surprise appearance at a meeting of BASIC leaders involving Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and those constituting the bloc of Brazil, South Africa, India and China.
Early this morning capping 12 days of frenetic and sometimes dramatic discussions, Danish Prime Minister Lars Rasmuessen frankly admitted there was no consensus and the deal cannot be adopted.
“If we strictly stick to the principle of consensus, this (the US—BASIC accord) cannot be adopted. I really regret it for this reason that we cannot adopt this document.”
“It is true that this document cannot be put into operational effect. It is true but it is a reality,” he said.
Dr. Singh and Mr. Obama delayed their departures by several hours to hammer out a face-saving deal that asks both developed and developing nations to set their emission targets by February 2010.
The U.S.—BASIC accord, taken as a final conference draft, contained elements like limiting temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, peaking of global and national emissions as soon as possible, factoring in overriding priorities of poverty for developing nations.
It calls on industrialised nations to set their emission targets by February, 2010 and also asks the developing countries to do the same.
In the contentious area of Monitoring, Verification and Reporting (MVR), it provides that unsupported actions could be subject to assessment only by domestic institutions but adds a new provision for international consultations and analysis without impinging on national sovereignty.
On the finance side, it provides USD 100 billion for long-term funding for developing countries and USD 30 billion for short-term, which would go to the poorest and most vulnerable.
Many of the African and Latin American countries attacked the document, saying it was not acceptable.
Sudanese delegate Lumumba Stanislas Di-aping, who chaired the Group of 77 and the bloc of 130 poor nations, compared it to Holocaust. “It is a solution based on values, the very opinion that funnelled six million people in Europe into furnaces,” he said.
Calling the draft deal the worst in the history of climate negotiations, he said that it asked Africa to sign a “suicide pact, an incineration pact, in order to maintain the economic dominance of a few countries.”
During the meeting, Dr. Singh said that there was no question of making India’s unilateral commitments internationally legally binding.
"We will reflect them in an international agreement in a suitable way but we are not going to take any internationally legally binding commitments. That is simply not on the cards,” Mr. Ramesh quoted Dr. Singh as saying, adding that Mr. Obama appreciated Mr. Singh’s statement.
At the 194-nation UN climate conference, delegates from Tuvalu suggested that rich countries wanted to buy the poor nations’ vote by promises of aid. "For 30 pieces of silver we cannot betray our own people. Our future is not for sale."
Bolivia said that giving parties one hour to decide on the US-BASIC deal was "disrespectful" and that it ignored two years of work on the Kyoto Protocol and the Bali Action Plan.
Nicaragua said the process of forging the draft, which was led by the US, lacked "legitimacy", "transparency," and "democratic participation". Its delegate placed two proposals to suspend the COP 15 meet here and pursue work under the Kyoto Protocol and Bali Action Plan expeditiously in future meetings.
"This (US-BASIC) document cannot be accepted for adoption by the parties present here," said delegates from Costa Rica, adding that there was an absence of a legally-binding treaty.
Earlier, Rasmussen, the President of COP, agreed that the draft would be presented as a ‘Miscellaneous document’ on behalf of the parties.
To this, Mr. Saran said that if the President wanted to submit this on behalf of the parties, he would have to take permission before attaching the country’s name, which was seen by the US as an attempt to seek detachment from the accord.
US Climate Chief Envoy, Todd Stern, said “he was sad that it had been disowned by the people involved in it. It is extremely disappointing and disturbing for the planet, for the ongoing health and existence of this body.”
Papua New Guinea delegates highlighted that the West was not the only to be blamed for no consensus at the talks, but powerful nations of G-77 also created blocks in negotiations.
During the conference, several African and small island countries also spoke in favour of the document and called on Sudan’s Dia-ping to withdraw his remarks against the draft. Grenada’s delegate urged Mr. Dia-ping to “control his emotions.”
UK’s Secretary on Climate Change, Ed Miliband, urged parties to accept the draft as a stepping stone to a legally-binding treaty, pointing to positive factors like USD 100 billion in long-term and USD 30 billion in short-term funds.
Miliband, son of Jewish immigrants who fled from Belgium in the Second World War, lashed out at the Sudanese leader for his “disgusting comparison” of the draft to the Holocaust, saying it was “wrecking this conference.”
According to UN rules, the Copenhagen Accord cannot be adopted if it does not have consensus.