Protests called a Global Day of Action, a march for action on climate change, in Durban, South Africa, on December 3, 2011. (Photo by: tcktcktck, Global Campaign for Climate Action)

By Climatico Contributor: Shira Honig

With the Durban climate change negotiations barely a week old, key countries are drawing their “red line” positions in the sand.

On one side of the line, where the Group of 77 (G77) + China and other developing countries firmly sit, is a second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol that continues binding targets for current country signatories after the first period expires at the end of 2012 (excluding Canada, which has announced that it is pulling out of the treaty altogether). On the other is a European Union plan for a new global agreement with binding targets for all countries beginning in 2015 and in force by 2020.

Emerging today is the news that India has rejected the EU plan for a new treaty.

Leading up to Durban, the EU said it was willing to consider an extension of the current Kyoto Protocol commitments, in exchange for a broader international agreement to begin in 2015, with emerging economies under the same binding targets as western industrialized countries. Since the first day of the negotiations, Poland, who currently holds the revolving EU presidency, has clearly stated that a “Kyoto II” could be a part of a transition to a wider, post-Kyoto agreement.

Before India announced its opposition, China had already rejected the plan, saying that a new mandate before the Bali Roadmap was complete was “too much.” China, which so far has spoken on behalf of both the G77 and the BASIC countries (Brazil, South Africa, India and China) – which has concerned some negotiators – remains firm in its opposition to binding cuts at the international level. It maintains that it is pressing ahead with ambitious national plans to cut emissions, increase energy efficiency and renewable production, and decrease deforestation.

India’s rejection of the EU plan brings the opposition level to three countries, including the United States. Like China, India maintains its current position of not committing to legally binding emissions cuts. The U.S. maintains its own position that China and India must accept legally binding cuts like other western countries. Only then would it consider a new treaty. In an interview, U.S. negotiator Jonathan Pershing deflected the issue, saying that until resistance from India and China to the EU plan abates, it is not prepared to take on legally binding obligations.

Meanwhile, in its own interviews, the EU has expressed frustration that its significant efforts to reduce emissions and provide climate finance – the most ambitious of western blocs and countries – have gone unrecognized. As in Copenhagen, where it was shut out of a final deal negotiated by the U.S. and the BASIC countries, it finds itself rejected again.

Without a move on these red-line positions from one country or another, a compromise deal is unlikely. Senior ministers and heads of state will join the negotiations on Dec. 6.

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