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Lima Climate talks: Rich nations want poverty eradication dropped

The gloves came off at the Lima climate change talks on Tuesday. Developed countries came together to demand that references to developing countries’ priority of eradicating poverty and achieving sustainable development be dropped from the talks. They insisted that the new agreement should work to keep climate change in check without acknowledging these issues as overriding priorities of developing countries. They also demanded that the Paris agreement focus primarily on emission reduction targets and that differentiation between countries be diluted.

The reactions were strong and swift from the developing countries group as well. Many of them stepped up the arguments in talks that ran till late night on Tuesday. Several countries including Brazil, China and others countered these views of the developed countries. India too aligned with other developing countries in defending its developmental interests and demanded primacy of sustainable development, food security and poverty eradication in the preamble of Lima decision.

The discussions were being held over the ‘draft decision’ document that more than 190 nations gathered at the Peruvian capital have to find consensus on by Friday.

The document was originally meant to let countries at Lima list out the nature of Intended Nationally Determined Contrbutions or INDCs that each country has to put forth for the new agreement starting March 2015.  INDCs reflect the array of actions that a country would take to fight climate change under the new regime that is to be negotiated by 2015 and implemented from 2020 onwards.

But developed countries pushed hard at Lima to decide and the nature and content of this 2015 agreement using the decision on INDCs as a backdoor entry.

“The developed country parties are trying to rework the UN convention itself at Lima by putting caveats and conditions on INDCs. Our mandate for Lima was to only identify the information relating to the contributions (INDCs) being put forward,” said an Indian negotiator speaking from Lima to Business Standard.

The developed countries, especially the EU, also made a demand for a review of the adequacy of INDCs to fight climate change through next year even before the Paris agreement is signed. It is referred to as the ex-ante review. India and several other developing countries opposed this proposal. There were however smaller countries, which do not foresee mitigation targets being hoisted on them, that also demanded the Lima decision provide for a review of the INDCs next year.

“First they will turn the INDCs in to mitigation-centric targets without differentiation. That shall de-link their existing obligation to provide enabling finance and technology. Then they shall review our contributions (through the ex-ante process) and demand that these be increased regardless of how little finance and technology they provide. This tosses out the principles of common but differentiated responsibility and equity from the 2015 agreement right here in Lima,” explained the Indian negotiator.

To corroborate his view, he also narrated how the developed countries had taken a tough stance against any road map for meeting the existing commitment of providing $ 100 billion annually starting 2020.

In parallel the developed countries had also blocked any talks of increasing their emission reduction targets in the pre-2020 period. This, the Indian delegate said would further shift the onus of filling the ‘emission gap’  to the post-2020 period when emerging economies would be required to share the burden of rich nations as well without the enabling finance and technology.

The divisions between countries on differentiation, need for focusing as strongly on adaptation and keeping the Paris agreement balanced drew such deep wedges over Monday and Tuesday that the ‘draft decision’ document under negotiations ballooned from 18 pages to 33 pages. This, when the countries had reviewed less than half the document. The rest was to be argued over on Wednesday and Thursday.

The ‘draft decision’ document once formally adopted at Lima by all countries through consensus would act as a guiding framework for the new global climate change agreement, which is to be finalised next year. Countries argued strongly, aware that if their ideas and views get dropped in the decisions at Lima it would be impossible to insert them in the new global climate change agreement next year.

The talks are to find a conclusion on this ‘draft decision’ by Thursday in time for the ministers to come together on Friday and adopt it as a formal decision of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. But negotiators braced for all-night long negotiations over the next two days and some planned for an extended playtime that could stretch in to Saturday.

“Countries were to only put flesh on the INDCs at Lima not pre-judge the contents of 2015 agreement, the negotiating text for which is to be prepared early next year and then finalised at the Paris meeting (in November 2015). The attempt to pre-judge the agreement right here at Lima has sent the schedule for a toss here,” said another negotiator from a developing country, not wishing to go on record.

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