Climate Body To Try To Bridge Differences Before G8
Author: Krittivas Mukherjee
ROME - Officials from a 17-member body which account for the lions share of the world's carbon emissions will hold urgent talks next Tuesday to iron out differences on the eve of a July 8-10 summit of the G8.
Group of Eight diplomats and climate change officials told Reuters the meeting of the Major Economies Forum (MEF) was called to narrow the gap between rich countries and developing nations such as India over long-term targets on global warming and emissions.
Leaders of MEF nations, which account for 80 percent of global emissions, are due to meet on July 9 on the sidelines of the G8 summit in the central Italian city of L'Aquila.
There are hopes that they could take a decisive step forward in talks for a U.N. climate change pact due to be signed in December.
But officials said persistent differences, particularly over the size of reductions in carbon emissions and the base year for comparisons, could scupper efforts to agree a joint declaration and result instead in a chairman's summary of countries' views.
"If there is no agreement...then what we will have in the end is a chairman's summary. The meeting (on Tuesday) has been called to see if there can be an agreement of some sort," said a senior Indian official involved in the negotiations.
The current draft statement, discussed at talks in Mexico last month, omits a base year for the emissions reduction target and there is disagreement over language and nuances on long-term goals, Indian diplomats said.
Developing countries, including India, would like a base year of 1990 because this would force rich nations to cut back their emissions more sharply, leaving them more carbon space to expand their economies. But wealthy nations, such as Japan, are pushing for a more recent base year.
European diplomats confirmed the technical meeting would take place in Rome, focusing on differences over the base year and emissions targets.
While G8 countries have agreed a "vision" of a 50 percent cut in carbon emissions by 2050, developing nations say it is too little and should be 80 percent.
"We are not keen on numbers like 50 percent reduction by 2050 by (rich) countries, which will freeze the existing imbalance in the distribution of the carbon space," Dinesh Patnaik, a top Indian negotiator, told Reuters.
"The Europeans and the United States were not too keen (on Tuesday's meeting) as they feel it will only add further pressure. But India insisted as they don't want anything in brackets brought to the table in L'Aquila," said one European G8 source.
(Editing by Richard Balmforth)