'BASIC' Meeting expected to outline Climate Strategy

Press release - 20 January, 2010
Environment Ministers from the 'BASIC' group of the world's main emerging economies - Brazil, China, India and South Africa - meet in New Delhi, India, on Sunday 24 January to discuss their joint strategy for the UN climate negotiations. Their session will be the first multilateral meeting following the failure of last month's climate summit in Copenhagen.

The quartet proved to be one of the most influential groups during the summit. Greenpeace believes the challenge they face is to demonstrate they can achieve substantial international progress in combating climate change. With 41% of the world's population, 11% of global gross domestic product (GDP) and accounting for 30% of global greenhouse gas emissions, the four nations have a major responsibility to lead the world in finding solutions to the climate crisis.

"The BASIC four cannot simply act like the United States and other industrialised nations have done in the recent past in looking at the climate problem solely from their own national perspectives," said Siddharth Pathak, Climate and Energy Policy Officer at Greenpeace India. "BASIC will have to fill the vacuum of leadership on climate left by the developed world and ensure a global legally binding agreement is reached. The four nations must also take into account the consequences of global warming for other developing countries, particularly the most vulnerable," he continued.

According to Greenpeace, the challenge for Brazil, China, India and South Africa is to show they can be a positive and effective force in moving work forward within the UN climate process. The clearest indication of this would be for the BASIC group's New Delhi meeting to set a goal of getting international agreement on a fair, ambitious and legally binding climate change deal by the next major UN climate conference in Mexico, in late November.

Besides playing a more progressive role in international climate talks, the BASIC countries must also take the lead in setting their national economies on low-carbon pathways and setting examples of climate-friendly development for other developing nations. Beyond that, the four emerging global economic powers should recognise they have much to offer poorer nations in terms of financing and technology transfer to help in adapting to global warming.

During frenzied talks on the final night of last month's failed climate summit, the BASIC group and the United States drew up the so-called Copenhagen Accord. It remains as a political declaration, having not been formally adopted by the Copenhagen conference. The Accord's stated objective is to "hold the increase in global temperature below 2°C".(1) However, a confidential note from the UN climate Convention secretariat shows that current commitments by all governments to curb greenhouse gas emissions would mean average global temperature rising more than 3°C compared to pre-industrial levels. This is far beyond the 'safe' limit of well under a 2°C rise indicated by the best available science.

"We are at a crossroads in international diplomacy that demands a bolder and far more ambitious agenda," emphasised Kumi Naidoo, Greenpeace International's Executive Director. "In addressing climate change - the biggest threat facing humanity today - all four members of the BASIC group have to live up to the international roles they have taken upon themselves. Their focus should be on closing the gap between the ambition to keep temperature rise well below 2°C and the reality of current emissions pledges."

In order to avoid catastrophic climate change, Greenpeace is calling on industrialised countries to together cut their emissions by 40% below their 1990 levels by 2020 and for developing nations as a whole to reduce their projected growth in emissions by up to 30% over the same timescale. The BASIC grouping needs to play an important role in achieving these targets.

Other contacts: Siddharth Pathak, Climate and Energy Policy Officer, Greenpeace India
Tel: +91 99 02 88 37 38

Andrew Kerr, Communications Manager, Greenpeace International
Tel: +31 6 4619 7332

Greenpeace International Press Desk
Tel: +31 20 718 2470

Notes: (1) Copenhagen Accord, FCCC/CP/2009/L.9, 18 December 2009, paragraph 2.