INTERVIEW - India hopes climate auditing scheme will get U.S. nod

NEW DELHI Thu Dec 2, 2010 3:17pm IST

India's Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh  gestures during a news conference at the U.N. headquarters in New York September 22, 2010. REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi/Files

India's Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh gestures during a news conference at the U.N. headquarters in New York September 22, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Jessica Rinaldi/Files

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NEW DELHI (Reuters) - An Indian proposal on how rich and poor nations report their actions to fight global warming could help get the United States on board for a broad agreement on climate change, environment minister Jairam Ramesh said on Thursday.

Negotiators at Nov. 29 to Dec. 10 U.N. climate talks in Mexico are trying to define the climate actions required of developed and emerging economies, to overcome a major area of dispute in sharing the burden of carbon emissions cuts.

Stalling progress is the question how rich and poor countries report their cuts and actions, and whether this controversial issue also called measurement, reporting and verification (MRV) should be subject to international review.

In Mexico, India is proposing all countries, rich and poor, that contribute more than 1 percent of global greenhouse gases should report their steps to the United Nations every three years. Others can report their actions every six years.

Actions of developing countries will be voluntary and failure to meet any domestic target non punitive, the proposal says.

Under the United Nations' existing Kyoto Protocol, only rich countries have to meet binding emissions targets and report actions regularly. But developed nations led by the United States, which never ratified Kyoto, want emerging economies such as China and India to take on a greater share of climate actions.

That's because developing nations now emit more than half of mankind's greenhouse gas emissions and that portion is growing quickly. China has already passed the United States as the world's top carbon polluter.

Emerging nations say they will accept international consultation and analysis (ICA) of their emissions actions, but not anything equal to the standards expected of rich economies. They blame the rich for much of the greenhouse pollution pumped into the atmosphere over the past two centuries.

BREAKING THE LOGJAM

Ramesh told Reuters that the Indian MRV/ICA proposal should help get the United States, a potential provider of global green technology, onboard for any meaningful progress in the Mexico talks.

"Without the ICA, the United States is not going to come on board and we have to bring the U.S. on board," he said in an interview.

"It is a political proposal not a negotiating proposal. It is basically meant to break the logjam and it is basically meant to bring the U.S. in because without some progress in MRV/ICA the U.S. is not going to come on board."

Ramesh said progress on reporting climate actions by all nations also depended on "some quid pro quo" from the United States particularly on sharing green technology and the Europeans on the second commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol.

"We have a 10-point proposal for MRV/ICA and a 10-point proposal for technology cooperation. Initial reaction seems to be positive, but obviously it will require more consultations."

Fraught climate negotiations last year failed to agree on a binding treaty and climaxed in a bitter meeting in Copenhagen, which produced a vague and non-binding accord that later recorded the emissions pledges of many countries.

Fearing deadlock in efforts to reach a binding pact by late next year, governments are pushing in Mexico for broad agreement on less contentious objectives: a fund for climate action, a scheme to protect carbon-absorbing rainforests, and policies to share clean-energy technology with poorer nations.

MEASURING SUCCESS

Ramesh said talks at the Mexican beach resort of Cancun were "an historic opportunity" of clinching a pact on saving and expanding forests.

"Some countries are still opposed to it but my suggestion is we should have a plurilateral agreement on forestry."

For Ramesh, the success of Cancun talks depended on:

* Agreeing a set of operational guidelines for MRV/ICA and technology cooperation.

* Operational guidelines for the climate Green Fund and guidelines for climate adaptation for developing countries.

* Clinching a forestry agreement.

But the minister said there were hurdles.

"We are going into Cancun hobbled by the measely U.S. financial commitment," he said referring to Washington's less than $2 billion pledge for a global $30 billion fast-start fund for poorer countries most at risk from climate change.

He said another problem was Japan's opposition to extending the Kyoto Protocol into a second commitment period from 2013.

Japan, among almost 40 industrialized nations with targets under the Protocol until 2012, said it will not extend cuts unless other big emitters like the United States and China also join in.

"These are not good signs," Ramesh said. "Our (India) mandate is to play the bridge role between developing and developed countries and to ensure that there are some outcomes at Cancun."

(Editing by David Fogarty)

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