Apart from being a cornerstone of the international climate regime, the Kyoto Protocol (KP) is also a legally-binding agreement under the United Nations Frameworks Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the BASIC group of nations has reaffirmed.
The countries in BASIC are Brazil, South Africa, India and China.
BASIC Ministers, at the close of their 10th Ministerial Meeting on Climate Change held recently in New Delhi, India, warned that any attempts by developed countries to casually set aside their existing legal commitments while calling for a new legally-binding agreement seriously questions their (developed countries’) credibility and sincerity in responding to the climate crisis.
There have been growing concerns that the dispensation for a second commitment under the KP was shifting from a rule-based or legally-binding agreement to non-legal or pledge-based strategies, a development that observers say is potentially detrimental to poor nations.
While expressing regret that Canada, within a few days after the conclusion of the Durban Conference last December, withdrew from the KP, the ministers also stressed that unresolved issues such as equity, trade and technology-related intellectual property rights must not fall off the table but remain part of the negotiations.
They noted that developing countries are fully committed to playing their part in the global fight against climate change and have presented actions which express significant ambition to reduce emissions.
The ministers, in a joint statement they issued at the end of the two-day forum, stressed that developed countries must rise up to their historical responsibilities and take the lead in the fight against climate change by undertaking robust and ambitious mitigation commitments consistent with science and in accordance with the principles of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities under the Convention.
They stressed that equity is a cornerstone of the international efforts at combating climate change and welcomed the decision at Durban to organise a workshop on ‘Equitable Access to Sustainable Development’. They stressed that equity must remain an essential element of the work moving forward in the UNFCCC process.
Though the ministers emphasised that the agreement on the Durban Platform was part of a carefully-balanced package of ‘mutual reassurances’ between the parties, they nonetheless contended that the process launched at Durban (under the Durban Platform) was not to renegotiate or rewrite the UNFCCC. Rather, they noted that the process and its outcome shall be under the Convention.
The ministers also recognised that the Durban Platform offered a clear opportunity for an equitable, inclusive, effective and strengthened climate change regime.
The main outcome of the Durban climate change conference in December last year was the launching of a new round of negotiations known as the Durban Platform aimed at a new regime (whether a protocol or other legal instrument or an agreed outcome with legal force) under the UNFCC and involving all countries.
They welcomed the fact that a compromise was reached at the last minute at Durban to develop a protocol, another legal instrument or an agreed outcome with legal force under the Convention.
They also noted that the scope of work of Durban Platform has to be defined in advance of the conclusion of the work of the other two Ad-hoc Working Groups (referring to the Ad-hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action and the Ad-hoc Working Group under the Kyoto Protocol).
Representing the BASIC countries at the meeting were Ms. Jayanthi Natarajan, Indian Minister of Environment & Forests; Mr. Xie Zhenhua, Vice Chairman, National Development and Reform Commission of China; Mr. Francisco Gaetani, Brazil’s Deputy Minister of Environment; Mr. Alfred James Wills, Chief Climate Change Negotiator of South Africa; and Ambassador Mxakato-Diseko as representative of the President of the 17th Conference of Parties (South Africa).
In line with the ‘BASIC-Plus’ approach, Qatar (as incoming President of Conference of Parties – COP 18), Swaziland (as Chair of Africa Group of negotiators and as a member of LDCs) and Singapore (as member of Alliance of Small Island States) were invited and participated in the meeting as observers. Algeria (as Chair of G-77 & China) was also invited.
The BASIC Ministers also recognised that the Durban conference represented a significant step forward and helped operationalise several of the Cancun decisions such as Green Climate Fund (GCF), Adaptation Committee, Technology Executive Committee and the Climate Technology Centre and Networks (CTCN), the Standing Committee on Finance and the arrangements for transparency.
The ministers welcomed, in particular, the agreement on the 2nd commitment period of the KP, and stressed that the presentation by May 2012 by Annex-I parties of information on their economy wide quantified emission reduction objectives (QELROs) with a view to adopting an amendment to Annex-B of Kyoto Protocol is an important and necessary first step for the success of the process agreed to at Durban.
They reiterated that the flexible mechanisms of the Kyoto Protocol would be available to only those Annex-I parties that have established quantified emissions reduction commitments in the 2nd commitment period.
The ministers also emphasised that the non-KP Annex-I parties too must undertake comparable commitments under internationally agreed rules of accounting, measurement, reporting, verification and compliance.