India, China almost certain to sign Copenhagen Accord

January 23rd, 2010 - 10:45 am ICT by IANS  

By Joydeep Gupta
New Delhi, Jan 23 (IANS) India and China are almost certain to sign the Copenhagen Accord, especially since Brazil and South Africa have already done so, say senior officials. Environment ministers of the four countries will meet here Sunday to chalk out their post-Copenhagen climate strategy.

“We cannot avoid signing the accord now since we were one of the five countries that negotiated it,” a senior member of the Indian government team at Copenhagen told IANS, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

The accord was negotiated between India, China, Brazil, South Africa and the US in the final moments of the tumultuous Copenhagen climate summit last month and then shown to 187 other countries, sparking an uproar.

“As long as the accord does not have legal force and is only a statement of global political will to address climate change, there’s no harm in signing it,” the official added.

Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh said this month the BASIC (Brazil, South Africa, India, China) countries would have a joint position on global climate negotiations.

In Sunday’s meeting, the four countries are likely to announce the setting up of a fund to help other developing countries cope with the effects of climate change, which is already lowering farm output, making droughts, floods and storms more frequent and more severe and raising the sea level.

Many other developing countries, especially those from Africa and some from Latin America, are angry because the BASIC group negotiated the Copenhagen Accord with the US without going through the UN process in which all 192 countries are involved.

Cuba has already said it will not sign the accord. At Copenhagen, Bolivia, Colombia and Sudan also opposed the accord. Bolivia is now organising a separate “climate summit” this year.

The fund is meant to appease these countries. China has already started a major diplomatic move for the purpose, sending its envoy to countries like Bangladesh to explain its position.

The deadline for indicating if a country will accede to the Copenhagen Accord is this month-end. Developed countries and large developing countries that do so also have to say what they are going to do to cut their emissions of greenhouse gases that are leading to global warming.

NGO representatives who have been following global climate negotiations for long have not yet been able to make up their mind on whether signing up the accord would be good or bad for the environment.

They all say the accord is poor and will not be enough to keep global temperature rise within two degrees Celsius. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has said a higher rise will have consequences that cannot be foreseen and “may be catastrophic”.

The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) secretariat calculated that current greenhouse gas mitigation commitments will lead to a three degree Celsius temperature rise.

The NGOs are worried that the Copenhagen Accord will “kill” the Kyoto Protocol, the only legal treaty that obliges developed countries to reduce their emissions.

UNFCCC Executive Secretary Yvo de Boer said this week that the accord was a step in the right direction but must not replace the protocol, under which emission mitigation commitments after 2012 are to be negotiated this year.

The countries that have announced they will sign the Copenhagen Accord are Brazil, South Africa, South Korea, Ghana, Australia, France, Canada, Papua New Guinea and the Maldives.

(Joydeep Gupta can be contacted at

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