BASIC ministers outline priorities for success in Durban

Beijing, 3 Nov (Chee Yoke Ling) – The success of the UN climate conference in Durban in late November will depend on the adoption of the next phase of greenhouse gases emission reductions by developed countries and the completion of the negotiation mandate adopted in Bali, Indonesia in 2007. This was said by Ministers from Brazil, South Africa, India and China (BASIC) in a joint statement issued at the conclusion of their meeting in Beijing from 31 October to 1 November.

The Ministers, who met to coordinate their views for the upcoming climate talks, emphasized in their joint statement that “the Kyoto Protocol is the cornerstone of the climate regime and its second commitment period (of emissions reduction by developed countries) is the essential priority for the success of the Durban Conference” that will be hosted by South Africa on 28 November to 9 December. The first commitment period will end in 2012.

The 9th BASIC Ministerial Meeting on Climate Change in Beijing stressed that Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and its Kyoto Protocol are working under the mandate of the 2007 Bali Roadmap and reaffirmed the need to focus on this mandate.

[Developed countries want a new mandate to negotiate a new single mitigation treaty for all Parties that would replace the Kyoto Protocol and include the developed and developing countries. The United States is not a Party to the Protocol and the mitigation actions of developing countries are under the UNFCCC and not part of the Protocol].

The ministers also underlined the importance of a proposal by India to include the issues of equity, trade and intellectual property rights in the agenda of the 17th meeting of the Conference of Parties (COP) to the UNFCCC. They agreed that “discussions on these important issues which are crucial to many developing countries, would contribute to a comprehensive and balanced outcome at Durban”.

Participating ministers were Xie Zhenhua (Vice-Chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission of China), Liu Zhenmin (Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs of China), Francisco Gaetani (Deputy Minister of Environment of Brazil), Jayanthi Natarajan (Minister of Environment and Forests of India), and Bomo Edna Edith Molewa (Minister of Water and Environment Affairs of South Africa). Maite Nkoana-Mashabane (Minister of International Relations and Cooperation of South Africa) was also at the meeting in her capacity as the incoming COP President.

Representatives of Argentina (as chair of the G77 and China), Egypt (as representative of the Arab Group) and Grenada (as chair of the Alliance of Small Island States) participated as observers in what is called the “BASIC-plus approach”.

The BASIC ministers agreed that Durban should achieve a comprehensive, fair and balanced outcome to enable the full, effective and sustained implementation of the UNFCCC and its Kyoto Protocol, in accordance with the principles of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, and fulfilling the mandate of the Bali Roadmap in the two-track process of negotiation.

[The Bali Roadmap includes two distinct components: First, the Bali Action Plan, which launched a negotiation process under the UNFCCC to enable the full, effective and sustained implementation of the Convention through long-term cooperative action, now, up to and beyond 2012. Second, there is a separate legal mandate for negotiations under the Kyoto Protocol for the second commitment period of greenhouse gases emissions reduction by developed countries when the current one ends in 2012. The negotiations under the Kyoto Protocol were to conclude in 2009 but developed countries are still resisting an unconditional second commitment period.]

At the recent Beijing meeting, the ministers emphasized the need to implement the Cancun decisions (which were adopted in Cancun, Mexico in December 2010) as well as to address the unresolved issues from the Bali Roadmap. They called upon the Durban Conference to clearly establish the second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol.

They further called for the Conference “to accomplish the Bali Action Plan where developed country Parties that are not Parties to the Kyoto Protocol have to undertake comparable quantified emission reduction commitments under the Convention and for developing country Parties to implement enhanced mitigation actions in the context of sustainable development and enabled and supported by finance, technology and capacity building”.

Stressing the “essential priority” of the Kyoto Protocol second commitment period for the success of the Durban Conference, the ministers said that “the continuation of the flexibility mechanisms of the Kyoto Protocol is contingent upon the establishment of quantified emissions reduction commitments by Annex I (developed country) Parties.”

[All the Annex 1 Parties want to use the flexibility mechanisms under the Protocol such as the Clean Development Mechanism although they have not made commitments for emissions reductions for the next commitment period. Developed countries such as Canada, Russia and Japan have expressed clearly that they will not undertake further commitments for emissions reductions under the Kyoto Protocol.]


The BASIC ministers reiterated their support “to work towards the perspective of a comprehensive, ambitious and fair outcome”, ensuring the full, effective and sustained implementation of the two treaties.

They noted that while sustainable development and poverty eradication remain urgent challenges and overriding priorities for developing countries, these countries, in particular the BASIC countries have pledged ambitious actions to reduce emissions at substantial cost to their economies.

The ministers called upon the developed country Parties “to rise up to their historical responsibilities and undertake ambitious and robust mitigation commitments consistent with science and in accordance with the principles of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities”.

They highlighted the robust contribution already offered by many developing countries in emission reductions by which these countries have become the active leaders of the global effort against climate change. They stressed that this has come about despite the responsibility, established under the Convention, that developed countries “take the lead”.


In reaffirming the need for the Durban Conference to focus on the Bali Roadmap mandate, the ministers stressed that deliberations and discussions for the further implementation of the UNFCCC beyond 2020 must be firmly based on the principles and provisions of the UNFCCC and consistent with the latest findings of science as per the forthcoming 5th Assessment Report of the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). In this context, they noted the importance of the Review process which is to be completed by 2015.

[In Cancun, Parties agreed to conduct a first review in 2013 to be concluded by 2015.]

On the Review, the ministers said that this must be conducted in accordance with the principles and provisions of the UNFCCC itself. They stressed that the Review must include a review of the adequacy of global temperature goal and effectiveness of ambitious quantified emission reduction commitments by Annex I Parties and the provision of finance and technology support by developed countries to enable developing countries to implement enhanced mitigation and adaptation actions under the UNFCCC.

They also reaffirmed that any outcome on “shared vision” (one of the elements of the Bali Action Plan) needs to be firmly based on the principles of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities.


The BASIC ministerial statement underscored that financing is one of the pressing priorities at the Durban Conference. The ministers welcomed the work of the Transitional Committee (tasked in Cancun to design the new Green Climate Fund) and envisaged the consideration and approval of its draft report by the COP.

They agreed that the Conference should decide to initiate the operationalisation of the Green Climate Fund with accountability to and under the guidance of the COP, ensuring adequate financial support for developing countries. Therefore, they urged developed countries to capitalize the Green Climate Fund from their public financial resources as soon as possible.

They further said that developed countries should fulfill their commitment of providing US$30 billion as fast start funding, ensuring new and additional funding and transparent information of its performance.

[Developed country Parties had committed to provide US$30 billion for the period 2010-2012 and to a goal of mobilizing US$100 billion per year by 2020.]

On the fast-start funding, the ministers reiterated the importance of ensuring that the accounting of finance is transparent, measurable, reportable and verifiable. They requested developed countries to submit information on the fast-start funding to the UNFCCC secretariat in a common and comparable format to strengthen mutual trust between developed and developing countries. This could serve as the first step in more accurate reporting on long-term financing, generating information to assess progress towards the collective financial commitments by Annex I Parties.

The ministers urged developed countries to honour their commitment to provide US$100 billion per year by 2020 in a predictable manner with specific measures and clear roadmap to be adopted in Durban, ensuring that there is no funding gap from 2013 to 2020. This funding should mainly come from public financial resources, and private and other alternative resources of funding should only be supplementary.


The ministers further emphasized that adaptation is the most urgent task in developing countries and supported the African Group’s position on prioritizing this issue in Durban. They called for immediate operationalisation of the Adaptation Committee, which should contribute to adaptation policy development and implementation of adaptation actions in developing countries following the requests of developing countries and respecting a country-driven approach.

They highlighted that the Adaptation Committee should establish effective links with the finance and technology mechanisms to support adaptation actions for all developing countries, particularly small island developing states, least developed countries and Africa.


The ministers also welcomed the functioning of the Technology Executive Committee and the progress on the set-up of the Technology Centre and Network. They urged a clear definition of the relationship between the two bodies and the link between the technology mechanism and the finance mechanism.

They highlighted the need to address the intellectual property rights issue properly and the early operation of the Technology Mechanism to advance climate-friendly technology transfer to developing countries.


The ministers emphasized the need to address emissions from international aviation and maritime transport in a multilateral context and in accordance with the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities. They highlighted that unilateral measures on climate change, such as the inclusion of emissions from international aviation in the EU-ETS (emissions trading scheme), would violate the principles and provisions of the UNFCCC and jeopardize the effort of international cooperation in addressing climate change.

The ministers stressed their dedication towards consolidating and strengthening the unity of the G77 and China and decided to continue to enhance transparency and inclusiveness (in the BASIC platform) through the BASIC-plus approach. They also reaffirmed their continued full support to the government of South Africa to make the Durban Conference a success in an open, transparent, inclusive and Party-driven process.

The ministerial meeting also received reports on the progress made by the BASIC experts group on Equitable Access to Sustainable Development and supported the publication of the paper as a contribution to the scientific body of knowledge. This experts group meets in parallel with the ministerial meeting.

India will host the next meeting in the first quarter of 2012.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.