The Indian and Chinese governments have had a rethink on signing the Copenhagen Accord, officials said on Saturday, and the UN has also indefinitely postponed its Jan 31 deadline for countries to accede to the document.

An Indian official said that though the government had been thinking of signing the accord because it “did not have any legal teeth and would be good diplomatically”; it felt irked because of repeated messages from both UN officials and developed countries to accede to it.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has written to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon seeking a number of clarifications on the implications of the accord that India -- with five other countries -- had negotiated in the last moments of the Copenhagen climate summit in December, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“That letter, and the defeat of the Democrats in the Massachusetts bypoll, has forced the UN to postpone the deadline indefinitely,” an official said. “With the Democrats losing in one of their strongholds, the chances of the climate bill going through the US senate have receded dramatically.

“So if the US is not going to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent, which was a very weak target anyway, why should we make any commitment even if it does not have any legal teeth?” the official said.

China also appears in no mood to sign the accord.

“With the deadline postponed, we are not going to sign now,” said a Chinese official now here to take part in the BASIC (Brazil, South Africa, India, China) meeting to chalk out a climate strategy.

The meeting of the four environment ministers Sunday is likely to end with the announcement of a fund they will set up to help other developing countries cope with the effects of climate change, said an official of the environment ministry.

Only four countries -- Australia, Canada, Papua New Guinea and the Maldives -- have signed the Copenhagen Accord so far, though Brazil, South Africa and South Korea have also indicated their willingness to do so.

Though Australia and Canada have signed, they have not indicated the greenhouse gas emission reductions they are committing under the accord -- something developed countries are supposed to do.

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