TIANJIN - Environmental officials from developing countries urgently called upon wealthier industrial nations to ramp up their commitments on carbon emissions, and to provide the financial and technological support their nations need to combat global warming.
Officials from the BASIC group of developing countries - Brazil, South Africa, India and China - held a two-day ministerial level meeting following the Tianjin climate talks to coordinate their stance on the year-end climate conference in Cancun, Mexico.
The ministers reaffirmed that the existence of the Kyoto Protocol - the only legally binding treaty to reduce carbon emissions - as a fundamental and essential element of international climate negotiations.
Countries are negotiating a successor to the Kyoto Protocol, whose first commitment period expires in 2012. The United States, however, remains the only industrialized country that has yet to ratify the protocol.
In fact, the unwillingness of the US to submit to a compliance regime has become a major stumbling block for a second commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol.
If the Kyoto Protocol falters, the entire structure of the talks "will collapse", said Jairam Ramesh, India's minister of environment and forests.
Ministers expected to reach a balanced outcome at the Cancun conference, which should pave the way for a legally-binding treaty at next year's South Africa climate summit.
The outcome, they agreed, should be grounded in principles of open, transparent, inclusive and party-driven negotiations to take place in line with the two-track system: the Long-term Cooperative Action and Kyoto Protocol.
A significant distinction must be made between the binding emission reduction obligations of industrialized countries, and the voluntary mitigation efforts by their developing counterparts, said the ministers.
Under the UN Climate Convention, only rich countries are required to undertake international commitments to reduce their carbon emissions.
Developing countries, including the BASIC group, have already carried out important and meaningful domestic actions, according to Luiz Alberto Figueiredo Machado, Brazil's lead climate negotiator.
"We are doing our part, but if you look at developed countries they still don't have commitments for the future, although they have made pledges," he said.
Current pledges made by developed countries, he added, are insufficient to prevent the disastrous impacts of global warming based on scientific research.
The BASIC group will play a constructive role in ensuring the success of the Cancun conference and negotiations thereafter, said Ramesh.
Developing countries "are the victims of climate change", he said.