U.S., EU sought to blunt India-China climate alliance

This cooperation took them by surprise at Copenhagen summit

December 06, 2010 12:22 am | Updated November 28, 2021 08:43 pm IST - BEIJING:

United States and European Union officials met in January to devise a strategy to “push back” against the closely coordinated climate change cooperation among India, China and other developing countries, which had taken them by surprise at last December's climate summit in Copenhagen.

Leaked cables from the U.S. embassy in Brussels, part of the batch of documents released by the whistleblower website, WikiLeaks, on Saturday, described meetings between U.S. Deputy National Security Adviser for International Economic Affairs Michael Froman and top EU officials in January, as they worked to come up with a strategy to counter the increasing influence wielded by the BASIC group of developing countries — Brazil, South Africa, India and China.

The exchanges contained in the cables reflect the deep divides between the West and the developing countries which stalled negotiations at Copenhagen last year, and continue to hinder efforts this week to broker a deal at the ongoing climate summit in Cancun.

Mr. Froman told his European interlocutors that the West needed to work more closely together to counter the increasing influence of India and China and “avoid future train wrecks on climate, Doha [trade talks] or financial regulatory reform.”

A cable from the U.S. embassy in Brussels from February 2010 said EU officials welcomed Mr. Froman's call to “push back against coordinated opposition of BASIC countries to our international positions” on climate change.

“It is remarkable how closely coordinated the BASIC group of countries have become in international fora, taking turns to impede U.S./EU initiatives and playing the U.S. and EU off against each other,” the cable quoted Mr. Froman as saying in talks with EU officials.

He said countries such as India and China had “widely differing interests,” but had “subordinated these to their common short-term goals to block some Western initiatives.”

“The U.S. and EU need to learn from this coordination,” he said, “and work much more closely and effectively together ourselves, to better handle third-country obstructionism and avoid future train wrecks on climate, Doha or financial regulatory reform.”

U.S. and EU officials agreed that they faced a “rising challenge” from India, China and other developing countries, which they described as being “surprisingly united.”

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