NEW DELHI - India and China are resisting requests to sign up for the Copenhagen Accord for fighting global warming that risks unravelling without clear support from major emitters.
The two have not publicly spelt out if they want to be listed among associates of the Accord, announced after a meeting of leaders of emerging economies and the United States during a U.N. summit in Copenhagen in December.
This point is still under consideration, an Indian official said on Friday. Indian officials said the U.N. Climate Change Secretariat wrote a letter to New Delhi asking for a clarification of its views, preferably by Feb. 10.
Like New Delhi, Beijing has expressed support for the Accord but stopped short of saying if it wants to be associated. Associates will be listed at the top of the three-page text.
There is no agreement on what are the implications of these terminologies and language, an Indian official said.
The accord may fall apart without them. The United States has said it is willing to be associated only if developed nations and more advanced developing nations also sign up. So far, about 80 of the 194 U.N. members have agreed.
The Copenhagen Accord sets a goal of limiting global warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial times, and holds out the prospect of $100 billion in annual aid from 2020, with $10 billion a year from 2010-12.
Developing nations fear that endorsing the Copenhagen Accord too strongly could undermine the 1992 U.N. Climate Convention, which says that developed nations must take the lead in slowing climate changes, from desertification to rising sea levels.
FOCUS ON U.N.
South Africa and Brazil, forming the BASIC group with China and India, have expressed willingness to be associated after letters asking for clarification from the U.N. Secretariat.
We did (receive a U.N. letter) and replied in the affirmative, as did Brazil, said Alf Wills, a deputy director at South Africa's Department of Environmental Affairs.
Lavanya Rajamani, an expert in environmental law at the Centre for Policy Research in New Delhi, said emerging nations were keen to signal a desire to focus energies on the (U.N.) process.
And that is another reason why I expect India is cautious about associating formally with the accord, she said. Although the Copenhagen Accord is not a legally binding document, it does have considerable political gravitas.
The request for countries to be associated came up only in the final hours of the Copenhagen talks after it was clear that developing nations including Sudan and Cuba opposed it. The conference ended up merely noting the accord.
A spokesman for British Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband, who in Copenhagen was among those who suggested listing backers, said that aid to developing nations would not be limited to associates.
Signing the accord is not a condition for fast-start money, he said.
One solution could be to fudge the semantics and include China and India by listing countries that have either expressed support or willingness to be associated.
Big emerging economies are trying to have their cake and eat it too. You can let them do that, and still continue the approach that they're supporting it, a senior negotiator from a developed country said.
(With extra reporting by David Fogarty in Singapore, writing by Alister Doyle in Oslo; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani)