India expects to break logjam in climate talks

An Indian proposal could break a deadlock between rich and poor countries over how to share the burdens of tackling global warming, India's environment minister said on Thursday before heading to U.N. climate talks in Mexico.

India's environment minister Jairam Ramesh said a proposal that would require countries to report what actions they are taking to fight global warming could win critical support from the United States and increase chances that representatives at the U.N. climate talks could reach a broader agreement.

"It is basically meant to break the logjam and it is basically meant to bring the U.S. in because without some progress in (transparency) the U.S. is not going to come on board," Ramesh said before traveling to the summit.

A man walks past posters reading Time for Climate Justice in Cancunmesse, where climate talks are taking place, in Cancun December 2, 2010.
A man walks past posters reading Time for Climate Justice in Cancunmesse, where climate talks are taking place, in Cancun December 2, 2010.

Ramesh's hopeful assessment came on a day that the U.N. released more pessimistic climate news. It said 2010 would be one of the top three hottest years on record.

India recently released a plan that countries -- rich or rapidly developing -- that contribute more than 1 percent of global greenhouse gases should report their actions and their emissions to the United Nations every three years.

Jonathan Pershing, the deputy U.S. climate negotiator, was not immediately available to comment on Ramesh's assessment.

But on Wednesday he told reporters there was hope the United States and India could move forward on the issue of measuring, reporting and verifying emissions.

"Coming in, it was quite clear that we were converging," Pershing said. "But we've not yet reached agreement."

The Indian proposal would not penalize poor countries if they did not meet pledges on emissions reductions.

HOT SEAT

Analysts said the Indian proposal provided a good foundation.

"India is clearly trying to be constructive," Michael Levi, a fellow on climate at the Council on Foreign Relations.

For the United States, an agreement with India could put pressure on China to come on board or risk looking like it is not doing enough to fight global warming.

India's Ramesh said an agreement on so-called transparency could lead to bigger agreements on climate, like protecting forests and financing.

But there was also risk for the United States. If it agrees on one of the key aspects of the talks in Cancun, it could put pressure on Washington to work out another one: long-term financing for poor countries to help them mitigate climate change and adapt to more storms, floods and heatwaves.

"It also puts the U.S. on the hot seat for the money," Levi said. The United States, Norway and other rich countries agreed at last year's climate talks in Copenhagen to financing of $100 billion per year by 2020.

Since then the U.S. climate bill failed. It was expected to set up a carbon market that would help raise money for the financing.

2010 COULD BE HOTTEST

Pressure on climate negotiators was also growing as evidence mounted that 2010 would be one of three hottest recorded and that human actions like burning fossil fuels and cutting down forests was to blame.

Michael Jarraud, the head of the U.N.'s World Meteorological Organization, said at a news conference that 2010 could be the warmest year since 1850, the first year such records were kept. It also caps a record-warm decade.

"The trend is of very significant warming," Jarraud said. "If nothing is done ... (temperatures) will go up and up," he said.

And emissions of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, threaten fish supplies. Acidification of the seas caused by carbon dioxide could threaten fisheries production and is causing the fastest shift in ocean chemistry in 65 million years, a U.N. study showed.

Production of shellfish, like mussels, shrimp or lobster, could be most at risk since the acidic water eats into their protective shells, according to the report.

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