China, India, South Africa vital for climate deal
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China, India, South Africa vital for climate deal

The emergence of China, India, South Africa and Brazil as a grouping was the most significant outcome of the climate talks in Copenhagen, a U.N. official said Wednesday.

The Copenhagen Accord — which urges major polluters to make deeper emissions cuts but does not require it — emerged principally from President Barack Obama’s meeting with the leaders of the four countries, a group referred to as BASIC.

“This is a very significant political development,” said Rajendra Pachauri (pictured), chairman of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which shared the Nobel Peace Prize with former U.S. Vice President Al Gore in 2007.

Developed countries will “have to deal with the power of this group … for reaching a full fledged binding agreement in Mexico next year,” Pachauri said in his first media briefing since returning from talks in the Danish capital last week.

Pachauri endorsed India’s stand that the Copenhagen Accord based future negotiations on the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012. In Copenhagen, many developed countries wanted to see the end of the Kyoto Protocol, which the U.S. refused to sign and which required developed countries to cut emissions while making no demands on developing nations such as India.

“Whatever one calls the new agreement, its general principles must be based on the Kyoto Protocol,” he said, otherwise it will not be accepted by a large number of countries.

Pachauri said time is running out for the world to act to halt climate change. “If we don’t reach a binding agreement by 2010, then clearly we are losing time and that will make it much more difficult and much more expensive for the world,” he said.

U.N. scientists have said any temperature rise above 3.6-degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius) could lead to a catastrophic sea level rise threatening islands and coastal cities, the killing off of many species of animals and plants, and the alteration of agricultural economies of many countries.

Pachauri also urged India to assist the most vulnerable countries in Africa and small island states.

“Indian authorities must express and show concern for protecting the ecosystems of this planet and should not allow their words or actions to be interpreted as being only in India’s interest,” he said.

Associated Press