Pressure on India to accept legally binding pact

The US, India and China are not in favor of accepting a legally binding agreement.

Cancun: Cracks have developed among the
developing countries including the BASIC group on accepting
legally binding emission cut at the climate change conference
here, with India saying there is concerted pressue on it and
China to accept such cuts.

The United States, India and China are not in favor of
accepting a legally binding agreement, which is supported by
other developed countries, and several nations within the G77
including African nations and Least Developed Countries.

"There is a concerted move by a group of developed
countries using developing countries to put pressure on India
and China and within BASIC, since South Africa and Brazil are
supportive of a legally binding agreement," Environment
Minister Jairam Ramesh said.

"There are differences within BASIC. India and China
are united on this issue. Brazil and South Africa are united,"
he said.

"This pressure is coming from developed countries
through AOSIS, BASIC and LDCs."

"At this stage India`s strategy is to keep the door
open, the door was being closed on us," he told journalists.

Pushing hardest for a legally binding treaties are
small island nations, which are the most vulnerable to climate

Countries in India`s vicinity - Bangladesh, Maldives,
Bhutan and Nepal - are also supporting a legally binding

India`s close allies on the climate change issue -
Brazil and South Africa - are also in favor of a legally
binding agreement, which is causing divisions within the BASIC

With the conference closing tomorrow, India has
objected to raising the issue so late in the day.

It has also said that currently it is important to
concentrate on the Kyoto Protocol, which is the only legally
binding treaty on climate change, but its future is uncertain
since several countries want to abandon it.

Speaking at an open meeting here, Ramesh told
delegates that "all countries must take on binding commitments
under appropriate legal form."

Later, the minister indicated that he raised this
point to assure countries close to India like Nepal and
Bangladesh that New Delhi was committed to fulfilling its
domestic commitments.

"We will honor these," he said, noting that India was
not ready to reflect these in an international agreement yet.
The present discussion has also raised questions about
what constitutes the "bindingness" of a treaty.

India, for instance, argues that consensual decisions
taken under annual climate conferences can be considered
Indian diplomats here also argue that New Delhi`s
promise to the parliament for cutting down carbon intensity
can be considered binding since it`s a "serious" nation.

Other countries, however, argue that binding needs to
be more formal maybe on the lines of the Kyoto Protocol.

India has also consistently argued that the substance
of any outcome needs to be detailed before the form is decided
- a position which is supported by Philippines and Egypt.

Ramesh indicated that India would not agree to any
legally binding agreement until three things are clear ? the
content of legally binding, the penalty of non-compliance and
the system of monitoring.

"We are not ready to commit to a legally binding
treaty," he said.
Bolivia, which also objects to a legally binding
treaty, is concerned that this new pursuit will take attention
away from the Kyoto Protocol, which puts the legal
responsibility to cut emissions squarely on the shoulders of
developed countries.

Ramesh also stressed that this episode busted the
"mythology" that G-77 spoke as one voice.
"We are under attack inside G 77," he said. "India has
to approach this issue very cautiously."