Despite all being emerging economies Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, and often being referred to in the same discussion, are all approaching the summit with different goals. This highlights the fact that the countries should not all be viewed through the same climate change lens and that each country has its own development context, agenda and goals that must be considered. For example:
The Indian GDP per capita is almost identical to that of Africa’s. No one is expecting all of Africa to match China’s commitments. Perhaps if India negotiated in 30 discrete blocks things would be different.
“You can’t compare China and India,” says Kartikeya Singh, CIERP Junior Associate at the Fletcher School who is also serving as an advisor to government delegations in Durban. “It’s convenient to compare them side-by-side because of their mammoth populations but the reality from an energy and emissions perspective, is quite different. They have fast growing economies too and all of these indicators make people want to put them together in a club.”
The BRICS countries each have their own agendas and the following has emerged from the negotiations to date:
Brazil has stated that it is not placing any conditions on committing itself to an internationally legally binding instrument to reduce carbon emissions as long as such a treaty helped the fight against climate change based on scientific studies. Brazil is hoping for the following:
- The adoption of a second commitment period of Kyoto Protocol before the end of COP17 summit.
- A fully functional Green Climate Fund, which includes short-term and long-term financing mechanisms to assist developing nations to adapt to climate change.
Russia, a signatory to the Kyoto Protocol, has blankly refused to consider a second commitment period.
India has emerged as the leading opponent to a binding treaty at COP 17. India is the world’s third largest carbon emitter, yet has one of the smallest one of the smallest per-capita-carbon footprints in the world, and has made it clear that it is choosing economic growth over efforts to reduce emissions. In addition India has joined with other emerging economies in advocating a renewal of the Kyoto Protocol. Under this treaty, developing nations like India and China have no obligations to make cuts to emissions and all the onus is put on Western industrialized countries.
China, the worlds biggest greenhouse gas emitter has stated that it is open to signing a formal treaty restricting emissions after 2020. Chinas conditions arise from China’s need for rapid economic growth to counter the persistent poverty of millions of its citizens. This need for rapid economic growth is the underlying reason for China’s view that it cannot be bound by the same emissions standards as advanced industrialized nations. Chinas agreement to the signing of a treaty is subject to the following conditions;
- New carbon-cutting pledges by rich nations in the second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol;
- The fast launch of the Green Climate Fund agreed on in Cancun under a supervisory regime;
- Implementing the consensus of adaptation;
- Technology transfer, transparency, capability building
- Other points agreed upon in the former conferences as well as appraising developed countries’ commitment during the first period of the Kyoto Protocol.
South Africa, like China, has shown interest in the EU Roadmap and has agreed to binding agreements with conditionality’s that are informed by the need for climate change adaptation financing, technology transfer and capacity building.
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