BASIC countries call for commitment on climate change

Updated: 2012-11-21 08:09

By Lan Lan (China Daily)

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Climate change ministers from Brazil, South Africa, India and China, also known as the BASIC countries, have called on the developed economies to "scale up ambitions" to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to meet the 2-degree target, a week before a climate change conference in Doha, Qatar.

The Kyoto Protocol will remain a sticking point of negotiations in Doha as some countries have made the decision not to sign on for the second period of the Kyoto Protocol despite an agreement made by negotiators to extend it in Durban, South Africa, in 2011.

However, so far only New Zealand, Canada and Japan have clearly declined to renew their commitment to the protocol after the first period expires at the end of this year, said Ambassador Andre Correa do Lago, director of the department of the environment and special affairs of Brazil's ministry of external relations and the country's chief negotiator.

Russia's attitude remains unsure, he said, on the sidelines of the 13th BASIC Ministerial Meeting on Climate Change in Beijing on Tuesday.

He said progress has continued to be made in the past year and there is some change in countries' positions, indicating optimistic signs for a successful outcome from the Doha meeting.

"For instance, last month Australia announced they may join the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol the EU announced they are not going to continue with the ETS (Emissions Trading Scheme) that makes us quite optimistic," he said.

It's very important to keep the second period of the Kyoto Protocol, the only mandatory international agreement on reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from developed countries, alive, he said.

"The original idea when we negotiated the climate change convention is that developed countries are going to take the lead in reducing their emissions and providing resources for developing countries to make the changes in their economy What we see is that is not happening," he said.

Xie Zhenhua, China's top climate change official, said there are three major issues involved in the second period of the Kyoto Protocol: its existence, length and ambition.

The BASIC countries' position is that there must be a second commitment period. It should be an eight-year period from 2013 to 2020, and developed countries should raise their level of ambition to reduce emissions, said Xie.

The commitments made by the developed countries are "insufficient" to cut emissions by 2020 to a level that could prevent a global average temperature rise under 2 degrees Celsius, said Xie.

Developed countries as a group should reduce their emissions by 25 to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2020, according to findings of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

"But now it seems the efforts of the developed countries are not enough," said Xie.

"In the overall interest of raising global ambition, the developed countries should take the lead and scale up ambition not just in mitigation but also in adaptation, finance, technology transfer and capacity building," said a joint statement issued at the conclusion of the ministerial meeting.

"The Kyoto Protocol remains a key component of the international climate regime, and that second commitment period is the key deliverable for Doha," it said.

Edna Molewa, the minister of water and environmental affairs in South Africa, and Mira Mehrishi, additional secretary of the ministry of environment and forests of India, also attended the meeting.

Apart from ministers from the four countries, some representatives from other countries, such as Qatar, the incoming host of the Doha climate change conference, were also invited to the ministerial meeting.

Su Wei, director of climate change at the National Development and Reform Commission, said ministers reiterated their full support to the government of Qatar, to achieve a successful outcome by consensus in Doha in an "open and transparent, inclusive and party-driven process".

He said ministers also "noted the intention" of the EU to "stop the clock'" on the implementation of the international aspects of the EU-ETS legislation by one year and reaffirmed the importance for multilateralism in addressing climate change issues.

The minister also reiterated "strong opposition to any unilateral measures on international aviation and shipping as well as similar intentions regarding other sectors," said Su.

(China Daily 11/21/2012 page2)