Capsizing climate boat: BASIC must stay together

Bribery is passé, ugly attempts to demean camaraderie among emerging powers as revealed in Wikileaks is worrying
By Aditya Ghosh

Two Climate Gates in two years. First it was the science and now the diplomacy. Both during a CoP.   

But is it something that hugely alters the geopolitics of the climate change? Are the revelations startling? Did we think that such forces did not play a part or did not exist when global negotiations of an unprecedented scale was going on, something which would perhaps determine the course of human civilisation in the years ahead?
The US, to begin with, has never really followed Das Kapital principles in the negotiations ever, since the Kyoto days and they had never shown any intention of doing so either in the recent past. So a rather beleaguered US pulling diplomatic strings by dangling the bribe carrot should not really come as a surprise.
The most disturbing fact that emerge from the leaks is a tacit attempt to enervate the BASIC group by the US and the EU. Bait of funds (on highly questionable terms!), good enough for smaller island states, would not have been enough for these emerging powers – economic, strategic and environmental – who have the resources (India is generating $600 million annually by taxing coal alone) and continue charting their growth paths along the US and EU's historic development and industrialisation model. 
The US determination to seek allies against these powerful BASIC adversaries is set out in another cable from Brussels on February 17 reporting a meeting between the deputy national security adviser, Michael Froman, EU climate commissioner Connie Hedegaard and other EU officials.

While Froman said that the EU needed to learn from BASIC's skill at impeding U.S. and E.U. initiatives and playing them off against each in order “to better handle third country obstructionism and avoid future train wrecks on climate”.

Ms. Hedegaard is keen to reassure Mr. Froman of EU support, revealing a difference between public and private statements. “She hoped the US noted the EU was muting its criticism of the US, to be constructive,” the cable said.

Now that is startling indeed. Not because smaller countries, in their desperation not to sink in, support the US in exchange of some dough. But because there is a larger realpolitik that aims at thwarting emergence of a different world order. Now that the BASIC has emerged as a formidable power in the climate negotiation and the North realises little can be achieved if they decide not to cooperate, a sanctimoniously surreptitious attempt is being made to create a climate of mistrust and confusion among these countries.

The Copenhagen Accord, should, by all means be trashed now that we have incriminating evidence of how support for it was garnered. It is biased, unjust and reeks of inequity apart from blatantly ridiculing the concept of 'historical debt' as incorporated in the UNFCCC strictures. It also denies right to development to billions of people who still languish in abject poverty. The stakes are pensively different at two ends of the spectrum, it is between survival with dignity for some while luxury with impunity for the others.

BASIC needs to survive to ensure trust and equity are what we bargain for. But then what prompted India, a BASIC member, to urge countries with over 1 per cent of global emission to agree to a third-party verification regime for their domestic mitigation actions? Something which turns the climate change debate on its heads and destroys the premise on which UNFCCC was conceived? Role of the EU, as well as countries such as India and its overwhelming enthusiasm to play 'bridge players' for the pious cause of a treaty (which has been rejected by other BASIC countries, according to media reports today) must be brought under scanned. Hope it is merely a good gesture and an earnest longing to play 'bridge.' We do not need any more cables really!