US, EU differ on targets at Lima environmental meet

10 Dec 2014


Diplomats from 196 countries are closing in on the framework of a potentially historic deal that would for the first time commit every nation in the world to cutting its fossil fuel emissions.

As the Lima meet entered its high-level ministerial segment on Tuesday, with intensive discussions over two draft texts meant to finalize elements of next year's global climate deal, countries found themselves deeply divided over issues of 'review of national pledges' and treating the 'adaptation' goal at par with 'mitigation' targets.

Interestingly, the division didn't restrict itself to the usual rich-poor nations divide on the issue of adaptation and taking responsibility under the principle of CBDRs (common but differentiated responsibilities). But it also saw a rich-rich nation divide where the European Union and the US-led non-EU umbrella group appear to be on different pages on the subject of 'review of national pledge' by any outside body.

The two draft texts released on Monday are meant to finalize a negotiating outline for the Paris deal and to reach an agreement on the format for carbon-curbing pledges - known as Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) - that nations are to submit from the first quarter of next year.

The developing countries including India and China are on the same page on both the key issues of adaptation and review. They have sought inclusion of adaptation in the final deal and strongly oppose review of their actions / pledged arguing that these will be the "nationally determined" contributions where there should not be any role of second party from outside.

Indian environment minister Prakash Javadekar and Xie Zhenhua, vice chairman, NDRC, China met on Monday and pledged to take a common stand on these issues during the remaining four days of the negotiation process.

Without going into the finer points of the meeting, Javadekar said both of them discussed "common positions" and also elements of the recent US-China bilateral climate deal.

Though both India and China had last week demanded that all references to any formal review of emission targets should be deleted, the new draft text for a UN decision in Lima retained the idea of a formal review, requiring countries to answer within four weeks questions about their climate pledges. It is apparent that both countries, backed by almost all developing countries, will oppose it vehemently.

The BASIC nations (Brazil, South Africa, India and China) too held a meeting separately where ministers resolved to move unitedly on key issues of adaptation, technology transfer and climate finance to achieve an ambitious and positive outcome at the talks, while preserving and strengthening the unity of developing countries to protect their common interests.

Before moving into the high-level segment, many countries on Monday similarly indicated their country or group's position. While the EU wanted nations to agree for periodic review of their national pledges, the US and some other non-EU rich nations wanted countries to be more ambitious in setting targets for emission cuts and clean energy.

"There should be a process of assessment. That's absolutely imperative," said Miguel Arias Canete, European Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy, while addressing a press conference.

The EU pointed out that the informal deadline of emission cuts or other pledges made no sense unless it allowed nations to review each other's plans for averting extreme weather events like heat-waves, floods and rising sea levels due to climate change.

The US has, however, taken a different stand and not emphasizing on review.

"The United States is perfectly happy to have a consultative process," said Todd Stern, special climate envoy and head of the US delegation.

He said, "We had a concern from the beginning that we didn't want to scare countries off ... The most important part of this idea is sunshine. You encourage countries to be ambitious because they don't want to look bad".

Nevertheless, all these elements are there in the draft texts which the ministers and negotiators would discuss for four days before finally agreeing for a template of the global deal.

These draft decision texts will form the basis for political negotiations, with ministers and key representatives of 194 countries and UN chief Ban Ki-moon joining the dialogue in next four days.

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