PREVIEW - China-led group may discuss climate fund for poor

NEW DELHI Fri Jan 22, 2010 7:47pm IST

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Smoke rises from chimneys at an electric plant in Havana in this November 2009 file photo.

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NEW DELHI (Reuters) - A meeting of four of the world's fastest-growing carbon emitters on Sunday ahead of a Jan. 31 deadline for countries to submit their action plans to fight climate change may discuss a climate fund for poorer nations.

The meeting would be attended by the environment ministers of Brazil, South Africa, India and China -- the so-called BASIC bloc of nations that helped broker a political accord at last month's Copenhagen climate summit.

The non-binding accord was described by many as a failure because it fell far short of the conference's original goal of a more ambitious commitment to prevent more heatwaves, droughts and crop failures.

The document set a Jan. 31 deadline for rich nations to submit economy-wide emissions targets for 2020 and for developing countries to present voluntary carbon-curbing actions.

Brazil's environment minister said it will propose a BASIC fund to help poor countries adapt to global warming as part of a broader attempt to revive stalled global climate talks.

Indian officials said such a fund could undermine rich countries, particularly the United States, which have been criticised for not doing enough.

"The resources we'll put into it will call attention to how they are escaping their responsibilities," Brazil's Environment Minister Carlos Minc told Reuters in an interview late on Wednesday. He did not give a figure.

Neither is there any clarity on the nature of the fund, who would administer it or how it would be distributed.

"All this could be discussed," an Indian official unwilling to be identified said.

The New Delhi meeting is seen as crucial because what the four countries decide could shape a legally binding climate pact the United Nations hopes to seal at the end of the year.

Countries that support the Copenhagen Accord are supposed to add their emission reduction commitments to the schedule at the end of the document. But there is concern some countries might weaken their commitments until a new deal is agreed.

China has pledged to cut the amount of carbon dioxide produced for each unit of economic growth by 40-45 percent by 2020, compared with 2005 levels. For India, that figure is up to 25 percent by 2020 from 2005 levels.

China is the world's top CO2 emitter, while India is number four.

BLAME GAME?

Refusal by the BASIC nations to add their commitments to the schedule would likely raise questions about the validity of the accord, which was only "noted" by the Copenhagen conference and not formally adopted after several nations objected.

"If any of the BASIC countries do not submit their actions then the blame game will again start and the whole purpose of the accord, which was to put a more vigorous political process in place, would be defeated," said Shirish Sinha, WWF India's top climate official.

The Copenhagen conference was originally meant to agree the outlines of a broader global pact to succeed the Kyoto Protocol, which binds nearly 40 rich nations to limit carbon emissions. The first phase of the existing protocol expires in 2012.

But developing countries, which want rich nations to be held to their Kyoto obligations and sign up to a second round of tougher commitments from 2013, complain developed nations want a single new accord obliging all nations to fight global warming.

The BASIC countries, while endorsing the Copenhagen Accord, oppose any single legally binding instrument that allows rich nations to dilute their climate commitments.

Poorer nations say developed economies have polluted most since the Industrial Revolution and should therefore shoulder most of the responsibility of fixing emission problems and paying poorer nations to green their economies.

Though Indian officials ruled out any revisiting of the BASIC countries' position on the accord, some clarifications could be sought on the issue of monitoring CO2 reduction actions by developing countries.

The accord says their actions would be open to "consultation and analysis".

The United States has said regular reporting and analysis of CO2 curbs by poorer nations is crucial to building trust.

"Things like who will analyse and what constitutes consultation need to be sorted out. These are definitions that have to be agreed by all the countries," another negotiator said.

(Editing by Alex Richardson)

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