Article by Guest Contributor: Adalberto Maluf

The fourth meeting of the BASIC country ministers (Brazil, South Africa, India and China) on climate change took place in Rio de Janeiro on the 25th and 26th of July 2010 to further discuss their common positions regarding the Copenhagen Accord.

The BASIC countries were part of the final agreement reached in Copenhagen, although, officially, they left the conference “frustrated” with the final results. The joint statement after these two days of meeting in Rio “reiterated the importance of the two pronged approach – Working Group on Long-Term Cooperative Action and the Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments by Annex I Parties” as crucial for an “equitable and balanced outcome in Cancun”.

The joint statement also shares concerns about those sensitive issues for the developing countries regarding differential (historical) responsibility between developing and developed countries, which is related to “equitable burden sharing” of past emissions within an context of sustainable development and also “demands the implementation of ambitious financing, technological support and capacity building.”

Despite the fact that the official joint statement didn’t differ much from what these countries have formally agreed in Copenhagen, there were some advances in Rio which can’t be underestimated. Overcoming Brazilian initial opposition, they all agree to develop a common methodology to assess their total emissions. The group, led by China’s chief climate negotiator, also agreed to have a “panel of experts” which would be responsible to establish a common baseline that could be equally measurable, reportable and verifiable (MRV methodology). Brazil opposed it but didn’t block the initiative.

It could be the starting point for the development of a common methodology to assess and measure the real implications of their pledges for the economic and social development of these key countries. It’s a direct response of the Chinese government to the agreement made in the last hours of the Copenhagen conference between President Obama and Prime Minister Wen Jiabao, with the intermediation of India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Brazilian President Lula da Silva.

There is a common feeling inside the BASIC countries that the Kyoto protocol won’t prevail in the near future, which could mean that they would have to change their positions for future negotiations. India insisted that it is rather clear that the Kyoto protocol is no longer a feasible route. With that in mind, they should all work together towards a single, inclusive climate change agreement.

The BASIC countries are still awaiting further developments around the world before moving forward with their pledges, however, there was a common understanding that developing countries with advanced economies, like Brazil and China, would have to abandon their rhetorical demand and start discussing ways to push concrete proposals in the table. The decision on a common methodology for MRV could be the beginning of that change.

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