Durban: The UN climate change conference opened here today amid serious differences between developed and developing countries over a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol that has dampened hopes for reaching binding agreements during arduous 12-day parleys.
India, along with other BASIC countries has "emphasised that the Kyoto Protocol is the cornerstone of the climate regime and its second commitment period is the essential priority for the success of Durban Conference."
They called upon the Conference to clearly establish the second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol where the developed country parties to the Kyoto Protocol shall undertake quantified emission reduction commitments.
Topping the agenda of talks involving delegates from 194 countries including India is the fate of the Kyoto Protocol, the only global agreement with targets for curbing greenhouse -gas emissions, whose whose current targets expire at the end of next year.
"We are in Durban with one purpose: to find a common solution that will secure a future to generations to come," said Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, South Africa's minister of international relations, who is chairing the summit here.
The BASIC countries are a bloc of four large developing countries ? Brazil, South Africa, India and China formed by an agreement on November 28, 2009 formed to work jointly on the issue of climate change.
The BASIC ministers, who met in Beijing on November 1 had agreed that "Durban should achieve a comprehensive, fair and balanced outcome to enable the full, effective and sustained implementation of the Convention and its Kyoto Protocol, in accordance with the principles of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, and fulfilling the mandate of Bali Roadmap in the two-track process of negotiation."
UN climate chief Christiana Figueres warned that the talks urgently needed to shore up public confidence that something was being done.
"This conference needs to reassure the vulnerable, all those who have already suffered and all those who will still suffer from climate change, that tangible action is being taken for a safer future," said Figueres.
"We meet here at a time when greenhouse-gas concentrations in the atmosphere have never been higher, when the number of livelihoods that have been dissolved by climate change impacts has never been greater and when the need for action has never been more compelling or achievable.
"Finding a workable way forward in this complexity is the defining issue of this conference."
Divisions within the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) have pitched rich against poor, rich against rich and poor against poor.
The Kyoto Protocol is an international agreement linked to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The major feature of the Kyoto Protocol is that it sets binding targets for 37 industrialised countries and the European community for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. These amount to an average of five per cent against 1990 levels over the five-year period 2008-2012.
Recognising that developed countries are principally responsible for the current high levels of GHG emissions in the atmosphere as a result of more than 150 years of industrial activity, the Protocol places a heavier burden on developed nations under the principle of "common but differentiated responsibilities."
As the Kyoto protocol is set to expire by the end of 2012, differences emerge over the need to extend the pact.
Western governments insist that only by getting emerging economies like China and India to accept legally binding curbs on greenhouse gases, can it be likely to lay the foundation to extend the Kyoto Agreement. The US has said it would not sign up for an updated Kyoto Protocol. It wants the pact to impose obligations on emerging economies.
First Published: Monday, November 28, 2011, 18:42