This Article is From Dec 09, 2010

Cancun setback: India, China isolated

Cancun: Cracks have developed among the developing countries including the BASIC group on accepting legally binding emission cut at the climate change conference here, with India saying there is concerted pressue on it and China to accept such cuts.

The United States, India and China are not in favor of accepting a legally binding agreement, which is supported by other developed countries, and several nations within the G77 including African nations and Least Developed Countries.

"There is a concerted move by a group of developed countries using developing countries to put pressure on India and China and within BASIC, since South Africa and Brazil are supportive of a legally binding agreement," Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh said.

"There are differences within BASIC. India and China are united on this issue. Brazil and South Africa are united," he said.

"This pressure is coming from developed countries through AOSIS, BASIC and LDCs."

"At this stage India's strategy is to keep the door open, the door was being closed on us," he told journalists.

Pushing hardest for a legally binding treaties are small island nations, which are the most vulnerable to climate change.

Countries in India's vicinity - Bangladesh, Maldives, Bhutan and Nepal - are also supporting a legally binding agreement.

India's close allies on the climate change issue - Brazil and South Africa - are also in favor of a legally binding agreement, which is causing divisions within the BASIC group.

With the conference closing tomorrow, India has objected to raising the issue so late in the day.

It has also said that currently it is important to concentrate on the Kyoto Protocol, which is the only legally binding treaty on climate change, but its future is uncertain since several countries want to abandon it.

Speaking at an open meeting here, Ramesh told delegates that "all countries must take on binding commitments under appropriate legal form."

Later, the minister indicated that he raised this point to assure countries close to India like Nepal and Bangladesh that New Delhi was committed to fulfilling its domestic commitments.

"We will honor these," he said, noting that India was not ready to reflect these in an international agreement yet.

The present discussion has also raised questions about what constitutes the "bindingness" of a treaty.

India, for instance, argues that consensual decisions taken under annual climate conferences can be considered binding.