BASIC Ministers reaffirm Durban process not to renegotiate Climate Convention

Bonn, 15 February, 2012 (Meena Raman)- BASIC Ministers, in a joint-statement issued at the conclusion of their 10th Ministerial Meeting on Climate Change from February 13-14, 2012 in New Delhi, emphasized that the agreement on the Durban Platform was part of a carefully balanced package of ‘mutual reassurances’ between the parties.

They reaffirmed that the process launched at Durban (under the Durban Platform) is not to renegotiate or rewrite the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and that this process and its outcome shall be under the Convention and in full accordance with all its principles and provisions, in particular the principles of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities.

The Ministers also recognized that the Durban Platform offers 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.)

The countries in BASIC are Brazil, South Africa, India and China.

In the joint-statement, the Ministers 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).

According to the joint-statement, in line with the ‘BASIC-Plus’ approach, Qatar (as incoming President of 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 recognized that the Durban conference represented a significant step forward and helped operationalize 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 also welcomed in particular, the agreement on the 2nd commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, 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. Ministers also emphasized that the non-KP Annex-I parties too must undertake comparable commitments under internationally agreed rules of accounting, measurement, reporting, verification and compliance.

The Ministers regretted the announcement by Canada, within a few days after the conclusion of the Durban Conference, withdrawing from the Kyoto Protocol.

They observed that the Kyoto Protocol is not only a cornerstone of the international climate regime but a legally binding agreement under the UNFCCC and 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 credibility and sincerity in responding to the climate crisis.

The Ministers also stressed that unresolved issues such as equity, trade and technology-related intellectual property rights etc. must not fall-off the table and 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 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 organize 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.

The Ministers reiterated the importance of the Review of the implementation of the Convention, in accordance with its principles and provisions. They stressed that the clear mandate provided by the Cancun decision in this regard must be respected.

They also reaffirmed the important role of the findings of the fifth Assessment Report (AR-5) of the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in informing the process of implementation of the various decisions of COP-17.

The Ministers welcomed the operationalization of the Green Climate Fund and called for its early capitalization. They urged the developed countries to honour their commitments to provide US$ 30 billion as fast start funding and US$ 100 billion per year by 2020. They also stressed the urgency of securing long-term finance for developing countries including for implementation of Adaptation Framework, national adaptation planning and REDD plus (reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries etc).

The Ministers welcomed the setting up of a platform for discussions of long-term finance under the UNFCCC.

The Ministers also noted with deep concern and reiterated their firm opposition to the inclusion of international aviation in the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme (EU-ETS) which violates international law including the principles and provisions of UNFCCC and runs counter to multilateralism.

They noted that the unilateral action by EU in the name of climate change was taken despite strong international opposition and would seriously jeopardize the international efforts to combat climate change.

The Ministers recognized the threat of similar unilateral measures being considered by developed countries in the name of climate change in the area of international shipping and expressed their concern.

The Ministers pledged to continue and deepen their cooperation and coordination in the discussions leading up to COP-18 at Doha. In view of the on-going negotiations for the Rio+20 Conference on sustainable development, Ministers agreed that the BASIC countries should enhance their discussions on Rio+20 issues as well.

They also emphasized that BASIC countries as part of G-77 & China are extremely vulnerable to the adverse impacts of climate change and therefore share the deep concern of SIDS, LDCs and Africa. The Ministers reaffirmed the need to maintain and strengthen the unity of G-77 & China as the unified voice of developing countries in the climate change negotiations.

They welcomed the offer by South Africa to host the 11th BASIC Ministerial Meeting on climate change in the second quarter of 2012.