Priscilla Jebaraj

NEW DELHI: At their meeting this weekend, the four BASIC countries – Brazil, South Africa, India and China – will discuss the Kyoto Protocol's chances of survival.

According to the agenda prepared by the South African hosts, with input from all four nations, some of the key questions to guide their discussion on April 26 include: “How long will the Kyoto Protocol survive? Could we envisage a shorter second commitment period designed solely to secure carbon markets? If no second commitment period, what would replace Kyoto?”

India does not yet have clear answers to these questions, according to Union Minister of State for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh, who will attend the meeting. However, they are part of the “realistic” approach being adopted after the failure of the U.N. summit in Copenhagen in December 2009 to produce any clear agreement or commitment on tackling climate change at a global level.

“Let's be realistic”

“The general feeling is, ‘Let's be realistic',” said Mr. Ramesh. “Now the general consensus seems to be that we won't get anything done in Cancun [where the next major U.N. summit will be held in December 2010]. So we need to look at Plan B, which is essentially to focus on [the summit in] South Africa in 2011,” he said.

This weekend's meeting will map “scenarios of how the negotiations might unfold in the next 2 years (multilateral success; multilateral fragmentation; multilateral failure; others),” according to the agenda. This is a clear signal that the BASIC countries envisage a two-year process to end in 2011, in line with their European counterparts.