India, China and other countries in the Like-Minded Developing Countries (LMDC) group on Tuesday formally took the position that the new climate agreement must not force developing countries to review their voluntary emission reduction targets.

Setting itself up in direct confrontation with developed countries, the LMDC made it clear that it was not in favour of doing away with the existing 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 on-going talks in 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 its emission reduction target. The European Union (EU), backed by other allied groups, has demanded that there should be a process of reviewing targets of all countries and seeing if they collectively add up to the level that keeps global temperature rise below 2 degree Celsius. Any gap, the EU suggests, should then be distributed among 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 methods break the differentiation between the developed and developing countries and set up an agreement where it is best for developed countries to offer lower targets initially and then get the responsibility of filling the ‘emission gap’ distributed evenly among all nations.

Finance-technology link

It also allows the existing linkage between provision of finance and technology by developed countries to 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 U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) under which the new agreement is to be signed requires the developed countries, and not developing countries, to take the lead in fighting climate change .

“Flawed equity”

“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 circumstances of different countries had changed since the signing of the UNFCCC and the 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 that this happens at the Warsaw talks.

The LMDC statement on Tuesday reflected this position countering the predominant narrative from the EU and the U.S. that the emission cut obligations should be based on existing capabilities of the respective countries.

  • Consensus that new agreement would permit each country to volunteer emission reduction targets

  • The UNFCCC requires developed countries to take the lead in fighting climate change: LMDC