Info Service on Climate Change (Nov15/10)
22 November 2015
Third World Network
"At the recent G20 talks in Turkey a tough and long drawn argument
ensued over COP21 climate change conference. India successfully opposed
the attempt to pre-judge the negotiations at Paris and force consensus
where none exists today," according to Nitin Sethi of the Business
Standard in India.
read more see the following article:
defended climate change red-lines at G20 meeting
against pre-deciding results of upcoming UN negotiations in Paris
Sethi (22 November 2015)
the recently concluded talks of G20 countries India prevented an attempt to pre-decide the
contours of the Paris climate change agreement outside the formal United Nations climate convention negotiations, which are
to start on November 30. The proposals from the developed countries
at the G20 meet to include the joint communique, which the 20 heads
of states were to sign, would have also breached Indian interests.
The diplomatic tug of war with the developed countries in meeting
at Antalya, Turkey on November 16 delayed the final communique by
the heads of states for hours.
India was represented by Niti Ayog chairperson Arvind Panagariya as the Sherpa for Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the G20 talks. Multiple sources said he led
the negotiations over the communique along with other officials from
the Indian team, which eventually led to agreeing upon paragraph on
climate change that India found acceptable.
was surely a very tough and long-drawn negotiation,” said one Indian
negotiator at the G20 meeting. The developed countries pushed for
inclusion of three contentious issues in the G20 communique, which
have been difficult to resolve at the UN negotiations and wanted to
keep a reference to the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities
“There are strongly varying views within the 196 countries about these
issues at the UN negotiations. We have always been opposed to plurilateral
forums, such as G20, dictating terms to the rest of the world when
all countries are engaged to deliver at the Paris meet starting November
30. That is the right forum, where all countries get an equal voice,”
said an Indian official.
While decisions of G20 are not imported directly in to the formal
UN climate negotiations they hold great weight because some of the
most economically and politically powerful countries being members
the club. An endorsement of ideas at G20 often becomes difficult to
fight off at the formal UN talks.
“The first draft of the communique did not have any contentious ideas
but then they were introduced which got us concerned,” said one official.
Business Standard reviewed the draft communique independently too.
A reference was brought in to endorse a recent OECD report on climate finance which states that developed
countries are well on way to deliver the promised $100 billion annually
by 2020. More than 134 developing countries under in the G77+China
group have collectively and publicly criticised the report for double counting
funds from developed world, including existing ODA and loans to developing
world as climate funding. So has the BASIC countries – India, China,
Brazil and South Africa. “How could we let that report be endorsed
through the G20 as if it’s the final word when all of us acknowledge
there are many problems with it?” said the official. The recent meeting
of ministers under the formal UN climate forum ahead of the Paris
talks too acknowledges in its summary that the OECD report is not
acceptable to all countries.
At the Turkey meeting, developed countries also demanded that G20
endorse a mechanism to review and ratchet up the climate targets of
the countries under the Paris agreement. Countries have largely agreed
to a periodic review of the countries targets as a collective – referred
to as a stock-take. But large differences persist over how countries
would revise their targets periodically over coming years. Developed
countries prefer to ratchet up only the emission reduction targets
but not have a similar review and ratchet system of their commitments
to deliver finance and technology. Developing countries such as India
want the wall of differentiation to continue in the review process
while keeping alive the linkage between their actions and the commitments
of the rich countries to deliver finance and clean technology. The
targets are nationally determined at the moment and not through an
international mechanism but the debate is to be settled at Paris over
The third contentious issue brought to the table by developed countries
at the G20 meeting was a reference to what the long term goal of Paris
agreement should be. At the UN negotiations last year in Lima the
world had agreed that the goal would be to keep global temperature
rise in check below 2 degree Celsius by the turn of the century. The
developed countries have recently proposed new terms such as ‘decarbonisation’
of the global economy and becoming ‘carbon neutral’. These terms were
introduced in to the G20 communique as well, sources said. While the
terms are not clearly defined the developed countries are keen to
get them in to the Paris agreement to provide a signal to their industries.
Countries such as India are opposed to these as they do not retain
the differentiation between the responsibility of the developed world
and the poor. At the same time they restrict growth of emerging economies
such as India which would have to depend more on coal in coming decade
despite ra pidly deploying renewable energy.
India was able to ultimately prevail at the G20 talks and bring back
the reference to the 2 degree goal that all countries have agreed
to. It was able to also force back the reference to the principle
of common but differentiated responsibilities – the bed rock of the
UN convention on climate change that developed countries are keen
to weaken through the Paris agreement. On India’s insistence along
with some other developing countries the G20 communique also ultimately
read: “We reaffirm that UNFCCC is the primary international intergovernmental
body for negotiating climate change.”
This is not the first time that developed countries have used forums
such as the G20 or the Major Economies Forum that the US hosts to
push their views through the formal UN mechanism. “The UN Framework
Convention on Climate Change is a legal treaty and any negotiations
outside of this forum is an attempt by developed countries to delink
discussions from the legal context and obligations they have under
the UNFCCC,” says Meena Raman of Third World Network, a think tank observer
at the climate talks.
“This is unfair and an attempt to ‘steal a march’ from the sensitive
and complex negotiations happening under the UNFCCC. Moreover,
these processes outside the UNFCCC are not representative and inclusive
of all countries. They are overly dominated by developed countries,”
When EU officials were anonymously quoted in media after the G20 meeting
blaming India for “blocking” language favouring an “ambitious climate
change agreement” it got a strong counter reaction as well.
“Ridiculous. You only have to as much as disagree to be called a blocker.
Sad!” said Amit Narang, Counsellor, Permanent Mission of India to
United Nations at New York and one of India’s climate negotiators.
He had tweeted this.
“It is unethical and unfair to label developing countries who defend
their positions as ‘blockers’ when developed countries advance positions
that deviate from their obligations under the UNFCCC and against the
interest of developing countries,” said Raman.