BASIC makes Room for an Elephant

by Joe Perullo

BASIC (the group of Brazil, South African, India, and China) gave a rather uncomfortable press conference the other day.  China, the leader of the group, started the talk on the defensive, denying the major “rumor” floating around that BASIC is splitting up. The other countries complied and also denied the allegations. An elephant walked into the room.

The EU and the US have successfully divided and conquered developing countries with their proposal on the table (see “A New Adaptation Framework: Don’t hold your breath for this empty shell” by Graham Reeder).  China is against the new treaty, but took a heroic leap of faith by saying they were willing to take on legally binding emissions reductions (unfortunately not until 2020); the EU recently exposed Brazil’s willingness to sign on to their proposal; India is vehemently against any new treaty that rejects the core principles of the convention, and will unlikely sign on to LCA pledges like China; and South Africa, while coming to the COP with some of the most strict and realistic demands, is willing to sign on to a new sell out deal that keeps Durban and South Africa from appearing as a failure to deliver “results.”

There’s no denying that BASIC is split over these issues, but the moment of truth is only getting closer.  The big question is where India will stand at the final hour. The country has been under severe heat for opposing the EU road map. If it courageously blocks the tabled mandate, it risks ruining its reputation in the international political economy. India’s colleagues have abandoned their partner, leaving the country with the weight of the world and the contempt of other parties on its shoulders. India’s negotiators have not been informed of the back room informal meetings, and thus lose their voice in the real negotiating arena.

Almost as depressing as the mandate itself is when heroes are seen as villains, and villains as heroes. Too much of civil society and too many NGOs have been tricked into believing that the only hope to keep the mandates from Kyoto and Bali alive is with some new treaty. This of course leads them to the conclusion that India is is the bad guy.  India will lose everything if this mandate passes. Having a country who has one of the smallest per capita emissions take on even more responsibility is NOT climate justice. India is not the enemy of progress. The EU is not delivering a just “solution.” The division of BASIC is a great loss for the climate justice movement. Without BASIC, India will fall, as will the rest of them in due time.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.