Tuesday, 04 December 2012 17:14(IndiaTimes) – The negotiations on how to deal with agriculture in climate change had to be suspended after a proposal by Gambia, on behalf of the Least Developed Countries (LDCs), was suddenly put on the table breaking the unity within the developing countries under the G77+China group.
The sudden tabling of the proposal in radical opposition to the G77 stand, which India too supports, came despite the fact that the LDCs and Gambia, as part of the Africa Group or AOSIS, had earlier agreed to the concept.
Gambia and other LDCs had also agreed that any reduction of emissions from the agricultural sector, which is bound to put the burden on poorer and predominantly farm economies should be explicitly done under the principles of common but differentiated responsibilities (CBDR).
However, Gambia's representative in the talks shocked the developing countries, including India, by popping up the surprise that broke the G77 unity. His proposal put mitigation from agriculture at an even keel with the need to adapt farming practices and demanded that the principle of CBDR not be cited.
It is a tradition that if the smaller groups, which form part of the umbrella G77+China club, do not agree on a particular element of the negotiations then they state it upfront within the G77 forum.
In that case the G77 does not present a unified view on the issue in the formal UN talks, and let the smaller groups like the LDCs or AOSIS and others take their respective position. But Gambia's proposal, as one negotiator said, came as a bolt from the blue.
For India and many other developing countries mitigation of short-lived methane — a greenhouse gas that lives only for a brief while in the atmosphere before disintegrating — from agricultural sector is absolutely non-negotiable.
They see it as an attempt by the developed countries to delay their own obligation to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel burning by asking farm economies to reduce methane emissions giving the rich countries more head room in the atmospheric space.
The reaction from the developing countries to the Gambian proposal was swift and angry. Other developing countries demanded clarity if the position was that of the Gambian delegate or of the entire LDC group member countries.
The arguments got embittered as India, Egypt and many other developing countries took on the Gambian negotiator, who they suspected as driving the developed world agenda.
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