A full-blown argument between developed and developing countries over the application of the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities (CBDR) to the Paris Agreement shook the summit as it approached the end of the first week of negotiations. .
After developed countries blocked all proposals to incorporate the CBDR into the Paris Agreement, developing countries came out with scathing comments in public.
The CBDR states that each country is responsible for tackling climate change but is not equally responsible. It seeks to balance the need for all countries to take responsibility for climate change and the need to recognize differences in levels of economic development between countries. This principle is enshrined in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and distinguishes between the obligations of rich countries, based on their historical responsibility to bring about climate change, and the developing world.
All countries had previously agreed that the Paris Agreement would be aligned with the UN Convention, which meant following its provisions and principles. But since negotiations began in Paris, developed countries have been under constant pressure to eliminate differentiation.
Speaking to developing countries with similar ideas, including India and China, Gurdial Singh Nijar of Malaysia said: “You (developed countries) grew to this level of prosperity because you burned fossil fuels at a steady pace. … You created the problem and now you say that we want you to share, on equal terms, the responsibility ”.
“You signed the Convention (UNFCCC). It was in 1992. You recognized the historical responsibility. You recognized the differentiation. You recognized a way out of the situation, but now you are recovering your obligations. You assumed obligations legally binding, which you have not complied with, ”he added.
The previous four days had seen developed countries block all proposals for the application of the principle of differentiation in various elements of the proposed agreement. These elements of the agreement relate to the reduction of emissions, adaptation to inevitable climate change and the provision of means of implementation: technology, financing and capacity development.
“You’re trying to freeze the pace of development in developing countries. That’s the message we want to give you. We don’t want to persuade you. It won’t convince you. You’re talking about countries like India and China. They’re big countries. Even if they add “People will stop the industrialization that meets the needs of the country? Will people stop eating?” said Níjar.
His statement came on a day when India found the support of an unexpected quarter: the least developed countries (LDCs). Some have often argued that India’s demand for equity is at the expense of a threat to LDCs. This includes former Indian Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh.
But in Paris, Gambian Environment Minister Pa Ousman, a prominent representative of the LDC group, defended India’s right to development while doing more in renewable energy. He said: “India is a developing country with millions of poor people. The economic situation in some parts of India is the same as in LDCs. We need to understand where India is coming from and we have to appreciate the efforts of the (Indian) government.
“India is in a different situation compared to China and others from our perspective. It is fair for India to protect the hundreds of millions of poor people,” he added.
Ousman’s statement deflates the claims of those who had predicted that India would be isolated from the Paris talks to demand that the Paris Agreement follow the UN convention. In 2011, when negotiations for the new pact began, all countries had agreed to follow the UN convention.
The positive note from the LDCs came after the African group, G77 + China, supported the call that differentiation should be one of the guiding principles of all the provisions of the new pact.
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