India, China and other countries in the Like-Minded Developing Countries (LMDC) group on Tuesday took the position formally that the new climate agreement must not force developing countries to review their volunteered emission reduction targets. Setting themselves up in a direct confrontation with the developed countries, the LMDC made it clear that it was not in favour of doing away with the current differentiation between developing and developed countries when it came to taking responsibility for climate action.

The new agreement is to be signed by 2015 and the ongoing talks at Warsaw are expected to draw out elements of this agreement. A general consensus has emerged that the new agreement would permit each country to volunteer their emission reduction targets. The European Union (EU) backed with other allied groups have demanded that there should be a process of reviewing targets of all countries and seeing if the collectively add up to the level that keeps global temperature rise below 2 degree Celsius. Any gap, the EU suggests, should then be distributed between all countries, rich or poor, based on several parameters which are sometimes called the Equity Reference Framework. The U.S. wants similar consultations but only ‘peer pressure’ and not compulsion to convince countries to do more in case the global target is not met.

Both the methods break the differentiation between the developed and the developing countries and sets up an agreement where it is best for the developed countries to offer lower targets initially and then get the responsibility of filling the ‘emission gap’ distributed evenly between all nations. It also allows the existing linkage between provision of finance and technology by the developed countries to the developing ones and the latter’s targets to be weakened.

The LMDC’s position on Tuesday officially countered these two proposals.

The LMDC said, “We do not see any role for a two-step process in the ex-ante process for review of efforts of developing countries. Any framework, which seeks to determine for developing countries what they should contribute in any future regime, goes against the principle of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities based on historical responsibility.”

The LMDC noted that the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) under which the new agreement is to be signed requires developed countries to take the lead in fighting climate change and not the developing countries.

“The application of equity reference framework only uses the word equity but basically redistributes the burden of fighting climate change more on the shoulders of the developing countries,” said a delegate from the LMDC countries speaking to The Hindu anonymously.

The LMDC group plans to submit a more detailed proposal along the lines of this position in the next couple of days. Environment and Forests Minister Jayanthi Natarajan in an interview to The Hindu had accepted that the circumstance of different countries had changed since the signing of the UNFCCC and Kyoto Protocol and that the obligations under the 2015 agreement should be based on both the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, and not just the latter.

The Union Cabinet, too, cleared the mandate for her and her team of negotiators to ensure this happens at the Warsaw talks. The LMDC statement on Tuesday reflected this position countering the predominant narrative from EU and U.S. that the emission cut obligations should be based on existing respective capabilities of the countries.