Dec. 02, 2023

Cancún (7): The Middle Way of India

Author: Edith Ni

At the beginning of the climate conference in Cancún, India made a seemingly moderate proposal about a global carbon emission oversight mechanism, hoping that it would serve as a compromise between China and the US and set a foundation for Sino-US negotiations. In a letter spread only among a small group of reporters in Cancún,the Indian Environmental Minister, Ramesh, spoke frankly to Todd Stern, a U.S. special envoy on climate change, and Michael Froman, a US national security adviser, pointing out that financial and technical assistance are essential in convincing developing nations to accept the terms of transparency of any proposal. Ramesh also pointed out that extending the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol is a necessary component of any agreement and that the United States should renew their own emission reduction commitments.

This letter was part of a proposal put forward during a global conference between major emitters in November of this year with the intention to bridge the differences between China and the US. As analysts of the Cancún conference pointed out, India's unbiased approach has obtained many delegates’ support. India, with growing international influence, is one of the four founding countries of the Copenhagen agreement. An association of scientists, concerned with the climate negotiation, spoke highly of India’s approach, claiming that it would be difficult for China to reject the compromise proposed by the four countries regarding the MRV due to the possibility of falling into isolation.

Observers believe that issues concerning the development of a monitoring mechanism for the emission reduction statuses of developing countries have become the most difficult part of the negotiation. This is also where major differences between China and the U.S lie.

China does not want other countries to check its emission reduction efforts; consequently, the UN is refusing to provide funding worth hundreds of billions of dollars to poor and vulnerable countries until China makes transparency commitments.

Observers regard international negotiations as trades in which countries either give or gain. The US wants China to be transparent while China sees no promise that the US, which is firmly controlled by the House of Representatives, will be transparent itself in the foreseeable future. The UN is aware of the difficulty of reaching such a binding agreement, and transparency has therefore become the focus of attention.

As Ramesh suggested, countries should report their emission reduction results to the UN and a committee consisting of experts from different countries should review the reports. This mechanism should apply to all countries with greenhouse gas emissions over 2% of the global emission. Developed countries and developing countries have different requirements. Developed countries like the US should report the progress of their emission reduction efforts while developing countries should report what preventative actions they have adopted.

Ramesh pointed out at a press conference that the US made too much drama out of the transparency issue.

As negotiations continue, the attitudes that the US and China will take towards this compromise remain unknown. But whatever the outcome is, India has found itself a good position.

Translator: Bao Lan
Proofreader:Ryan Yu

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