EU blames US, China for hampering progress in Durban talks (Lead)

December 8th, 2011 - 12:42 am ICT by IANS  

Durban, Dec 7 (IANS) The rift between countries at the UN climate conference here became sharper Wednesday with the European Union (EU) blaming the US and China for hijacking the talks over their differences on a legally binding treaty, while India’s proposal of equity - right to grow - got a push after inclusion in the new negotiation draft released here.

Terming as “not new” the Chinese proposal to accept conditional legal emission cuts post-2020, the US said conditions were not right at present for an agreement on a legal treaty.

Adding to the problem was Canada, which termed as “past” the Kyoto Protocol - the only legal regime to check carbon emissions.

A 138-page negotiating draft on long-term action by countries was circulated Wednesday, which included India’s proposal of equity.

“The UN conference has been hijacked by the ping-pong blame game by the US-China and it is not tolerable as it is blocking the overall process,” said Jo Leinen, chairman of the European Parliament delegation to the Durban talks.

Leinen said that China has shown some movement but its commitment must be put to test. “We urgently need countries to sign up for a roadmap that will lead to agreement on a binding global pact by 2015,” he said.

EU Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard appealed to all big emitters to come forward and clear their positions.

“We are not asking countries to be specific of how much they commit but what they commit. It helps to solve a big problem when you have a legal regime,” Hedegaard said.

However, the US continued to stick to its stand that it won’t agree to a legally binding regime right now.

“We think conditions are not right for the agreement,” said US special envoy on climate change Todd Stern.

China had announced that it was ready for a legal commitment post 2020, but with some pre-conditions, while India said it is open to discussion on a legal framework if issues of equity — the right to grow, technology transfer to adapt to energy efficient measures and climate funding — are included.

Indian Environment and Forests Minister Jayanthi Natarajan said: “I have come to Durban with an open mind and a constructive spirit. And it is my conviction that we will effectively implement and sustain the regime of climate change if the regime is anchored within the framework of the existing convention and adheres to these fundamental principles.”

She raised the issues of green climate fund and unilateral trade measures, saying these should not become disguised trade actions.

Besides, countries continue to remain divided on the Kyoto Protocol, with Canada walking out.

“We have long said we will not take on a second commitment under the Kyoto Protocol. We will not obstruct or discourage those that do, but Kyoto for Canada is in the past,” said Canadian Environment Minister Peter Kent.

As Kent was reading his speech, a group of youths angry over his proposal stood up, turning their backs towards him, with their T-shirts reading ‘Turn your back on Canada’.

They were ushered out of the room by security guards.

Countries like Russia and Japan have also been vocal that they don’t want to extend Kyoto beyond 2012 while the BASIC (Brazil, South Africa, India and China) group, along with other developing countries, has been pushing for a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol.

Small island nations have said that they want the deal right now and cannot wait till 2020.

Civil society groups appealed to the countries to come together in solving the problem. “We appeal to India, China, US and EU to act together in saving the planet,” said Srinivas Krishnaswamy of Climate Action Network (CAN).

(Richa Sharma can be reached at richa.s@ians.in)

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