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India’s gain at Lima: A more united front of developing nations

India’s biggest gain at the Lima Climate Change conference was the renewed solidarity among the 134 country developing countries group called G77 and China and the successful strategising by the Like Minded Developing Countries, of which it is member along with China.

India had gone to the UN climate change conference firmly anchoring itself in the Like Minded Developing Countries (LMDC). The group has an assortment of developing countries in it besides China. But upon reaching Lima, the group suffered a somewhat expected set back when Philippines, reportedly under pressure from developed countries, moved out.

The G77 operates at the climate talks more like an umbrella for the developing countries with most nations taking stronger, varying positions contradicting each other under smaller groupings. India too operates not just within G77 but also as partner in the BASIC  (Brazil, South Africa, China and India) and the LMDC.

By the end of the conference the loss of Philippines in the LMDC was more than made up when several other groups aligned itself with the LMDC on the last designated day of the meeting bringing together a unity that has not been seen in recent years between developing countries at the climate conference. Country groups such as the Least Developed Countries, the Alliance of Small Island States or AOSIS and the Africa group all came together towards the end of the meeting demanding more parity in the agreement that was to be signed at Lima. The united front ensured that the draft was rewritten and many of the issues raised by the developing countries were brought back to the table.

“The negotiations for the new climate agreement were to be held next year. Some developed countries tried to get that to happen this year. We blocked it in a manner that sent a strong signal: You cannot ride roughshod over the most fundamental interests of the developing countries,” said an Indian negotiator speaking minutes before the meeting concluded in Lima.  

What helped the developing countries come together was also that the developed countries’ blocking all negotiations that required them to either enhance or lay bare their FINANCIAL commitments to fight climate change. “Some developed countries may have felt sitting in coalition with rich nations such as the EU would help them secure financial resources at least. But now at Lima it clearer to these that the developed countries have are not willing to provide any finance or act ambitiously,” said an observer group leader at the Lima talks not willing to be quoted on record.

“It’s good that this battle has happened a year ahead, and we have been able to show what a more united developing country block can achieve. It will help maintain a balance during the tough rounds of negotiations next year,” the Indian delegate said.  

The Like-Minded Developing Countries group with China too in it became the sheet-anchor for the interests of the developing countries. The meeting also helped dispel concerns in the Indian camp that China would move closer to the developed world at the UN talks after making a joint announcement in November with the US on its emission reduction targets. This was realised by not just India but other developing countries too.

“To me it seemed like China has come back with renewed vigour after dispelling the notion that it is a reluctant to fight climate change. Had China not stood as strong, the story of Lima would have been very different,” acknowledged an African country delegate speaking to Business Standard at the end of the meeting.

That the LMDC group was conscious of role as a powerful centripetal force for developing countries became evident at the time of closing speech of the group. Speaking through Malaysia, the group minced no words in talking of uneven balance in the global world order and at the climate talks. But more so it pleaded with other developing countries, showcasing the results of Lima, to come back ‘home’ – suggesting that the G77 fight a more collective battle next year for the agreement at Paris. India and China’s ministers may have taken a politer route to end the talks but the role of the two countries working as the power-horses of LMDC was not lost on the gathering.


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