The four countries which constitute BASIC – Brazil, South Africa, India, and China – are all set to play their significant role in negotiating any agreements in the future for climate change.
BASIC may be alone in their dogged pursuit of environmental issues but they are together and this united front has prompted the Centre for Policy Studies’ Lavanja Rajamani to say that the varying progress of each member-country of BASIC is less important than their unilateral support for any upcoming issues regarding climate change.
BASIC – Economic and Diplomatic Partners
All four are emerging economies and have shown considerable influence in the areas of world economy and geopolitics. As emerging global leaders, they have acquired the political leverage as well as the financial clout that allows them the privilege of playing hardball with First World countries. They operate in diverse ideological and material contexts and differ considerably in their respective contributions to the issue of climate change but if push comes to shove, they are all willing to be on the same page.
As partners in an economic relationship and environmental diplomacy, the countries of BASIC are also in competition for their share in the global market and a respected position in the international community of nations. Together, BASIC is responsible for 30% of the world’s total reduction of greenhouse gas. Last year, BASIC members were pressured to come up with an outline of carbon cut levels which are acceptable to them.
BASIC meets multiple times annually to coordinate with each other on their common negotiating strategy for climate meetings with the United Nations (UN). Most recently, environment ministers from BASIC met in Delhi for discussion on topics such as equitable sharing of carbon emission reductions between poor and rich countries. Both industrialised and emerging economies are set to submit their respective figures of reduced carbon emissions to the UN by March 2015, however China has already said their submission may come in a little late.
During the early part of 2014, Sir David King, the United Kingdom (UK) climate envoy, observed that Brazil and India were “stalling” talks on their proposal to treat both developing and developed nations “differently” under a proposed UN agreement.
Former Democratic Senator from Massachusetts and now U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry discussed climate change with India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, recently and stated that Modi understood the necessity of taking immediate action on the issue.
India’s attitude on any UN deals, however, is unlikely to reverse its present course. Rajamani explained that India is more likely to engage on operational levels instead of on emission trajectories or peaking years.
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BASIC – Historical Responsibility of Developed Nations
The Brazilian government’s focus at the moment is on policy planning on domestic climate change. India and South Africa have been reported to lag behind on their climate commitments for reduction while China is scheduled to announce its 2016-2020 plan next year, confirming chief negotiator Xie Xhenhua’s announcement that China may have a carbon cap strategy out in early 2015, albeit without any specific timelines for implementation.
Environment ministers from BASIC had earlier called for a global agreement regarding cooperative action on a long-term basis under the UN’s Framework Convention of Climate Change in April 2010. BASIC’s statement had demanded that developed countries should provide developing countries with capacity-building, technology, and financial support as per their “historical responsibility” for an issue like climate change.