BASIC group vindicated by watered down Copenhagen climate change deal

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Copenhagen (Denmark), Dec.18-19 (ANI): With world leaders at the Copenhagen climate conference reportedly agreeing to a last-minute deal to combat global warming, but conceding that the watered-down accord has not gone far enough, developing countries like India, China, Brazil and South Africa, and the Group of 77 countries appear to have been vindicated.

The two-week summit limped to a conclusion late on Friday night with warnings that not enough is being done to prevent potentially dangerous rises in global temperatures.

Despite some hailing the Copenhagen Accord as "historic", officials accepted that it did not truly meet any country's requirements. Danish Prime Minister Lars Loke Rassmussen summed it up succinctly when he said: "This has not been an easy summit, but I do say that the Copenhagen deal offers hope. First steps, sometimes they are faltering, sometimes they take a lot of pain and effort."

Earlier in the day Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's Special Envoy on Climate Change Shyam Saran told media at a brief press interaction that the BASIC group of countries (Brazil, South Africa, India and China) has "very common perceptions with regard to what is the nature of the outcome from this conference".

He said that all four countries were in agreement on key principles, which in essence "are the red lines" for them, the Lesser Developed Countries and the Small Island States, and "what would be the way forward".

Saran emphatically said that the BASIC group is of the consistent view that the whole process with regard to climate change obligations has to be a "transparent and inclusive process, and that it was not the job of the Heads of States or Government to act or engage in textual negotiations."

He said that in overall terms there three or four issues with which the BASIC group of countries were concerned, and these were: To be sure that the UNFCCC is not in any manner diluted and that its principles and provisions have to and must be reaffirmed; second, that whatever be the nature of the negotiations in the post-Copenhagen period, those negotiations must be in accordance with the Bali Action Plan (BAP) mandate, that these negotiations cannot be conducted at a diminished level and with diminished expectations; that there was a need to recognize the presence of outstanding issues and that the mandate must be the BAP mandate; third that all BASIC group countries were of the unambiguous position that the Kyoto Protocol is a legally valide instrument that must remain effective, and operative as the negotiations are taken beyond the Copenhagen deliberations.

He also said that as far as the issue of MRV (measurable, reportable and verifiable) actions was concerned, the BASIC group has no problem with regard to financial international scrutiny and technological support transfers, but had objections to MRV international scrutiny of domestic emission cut processes.

US President Barack Obama hailed the deal, but admitted that "a deadlock in perspectives" had undermined the talks.

"We have much further to go," he conceded.

The accord declared that "deep cuts in emissions are required". But instead of a detailed pledge to halve carbon emissions by 2050, leaders agreed only to the vague promise to limit the rise in global temperatures to 2C, with no specifics on how to achieve that.

The leaders also put off setting emissions targets for 2020, saying they would attempt to agree them by February.

Environmentalists dismissed the deal.

At the heart of the often bad-tempered final day was a dispute between the US and China, the two biggest economies, over American calls for international monitoring of China's carbon output.

The row was briefly cooled after President Obama met Premier Wen Jiabao of China.

It later became clear that the US had backed down on monitoring, and the final accord only asks signatories to report progress every two years, with no independent verification. By Ashok Dixit (ANI)

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