Durban, Dec 9: Brazil and South Africa on Friday indicated joining a new climate pact proposed by the EU for a legally binding treaty for all parties to be signed by 2015, even as India, China and the US are still to come on board.
European Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard said the two countries rallied to the proposal supported by the EU, vulnerable small-island states and least-developed countries.
"Brazil (is) also in favour, South Africa OK for a legally binding deal," she told journalists here.
"That is half of BASIC, now we are waiting for the other half," she added, referring to India and China, the first and third largest carbon polluters in the world.
These two Asian giants along with the number two emitter the US, have not endorsed the European proposal for a mandate for a new accord embracing all major carbon emitters.
If the European Union Roadmap is agreed to in Durban, it will be a critical step in dissolving the developed and developing countries classification, which has been central to the climate change regime since the first legally binding treaty was signed in 1997.
The EU is proposing a legally binding treaty for all parties to be signed by 2015 and which will come into force by 2020. The EU wants all major emitters including India, China and the US to take legally binding carbon emission cuts.
So far, South Africa and Brazil have indicated that they are willing to sign up to such a treaty. "We tried to chart a pathway to change something that has not changed in many many years," said Hedegaard.
"Namely the division of the world into two camps...The two camps that were decided in the last century in 1992 and 1997," she told reporters. "Obviously what these parties will do can vary but we all commit to the same legal form."
India has expressed anger at the developed world for shifting the burden of its "historical responsibility" on the developing world. Indian diplomats have angrily pointed out that the developed countries did not deliver on their promises of mitigation, adaptation and technology under the Kyoto Protocol, which is the only legally binding treaty on climate change.
Under the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, 37 developed countries have been placed under international legal obligations to reduce carbon emissions during a first commitment period, which expires next year.
Some countries like Japan and Canada are withdrawing from the treaty citing it ineffective because it leave out the bulk of carbon emission produced by China, India and the United States. The EU is willing to sign up for a second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol if emerging economies agree to the 2015 treaty.
The diplomats pointed out that signing up for more commitments under the Kyoto Protocol was never conditional on the actions of developing nations. The EU, however, has pointed out that the Kyoto Protocol only covers 26 per cent of emissions. The US and China, which are the largest emitters of carbon dioxide, are not part of the Kyoto Protocol.
During this conference the EU has successfully garnered the support of the Western civil society and media for its new roadmap. India has increasingly been portrayed as the stumbling block.
Many observers here pointed out that the Indian delegation here was unable to communicate its message to the international media. "The success or failure of Durban hangs on the small number of countries who have not yet committed to the Roadmap," she said.
As India and the European Union struggled to find common ground, it looks like the intense climate negotiations in Durban, which were expected to wrap up today, will spill over on Saturday.