Brazil backs ‘high ambition coalition’ to break Paris deadlock

Decision marks a rupture in BASIC bloc as India, China opposed to groups’ faster carbon-cutting aims

By Alex Pashley in Paris

Brazil has joined with the EU and a series of other countries at a UN summit to strike a final climate pact.

The “high ambition coalition” sees South America’s biggest country link with more than 100 developed and developing states including the Gambia, Norway, Mexico and the US.

And it points to a splintering of the BASIC group of emerging economies comprising China, India and South Africa, with the other three resisting pressure to cut carbon emissions faster to avoid dangerous climate change.

“If you want to tackle climate change you need ambition and political will,” said Brazilian environment minister Izabella Teixeira, in a statement read by Marshall Islands envoy and chair of the coalition, Tony de Brum.

“Brazil proudly supports the high ambition coalition and pledges our political support to this effort.”

Tony de Brum: The emerging climate champion at COP21

The unofficial alliance, which has burst onto the scene this week in Paris, backs a five-year review mechanism, a long-term goal to cut emissions, and a recognition of the dangers of warming over 1.5C.

“Having [Brazil] on board is essential to our success,” said de Brum, alongside nine ministers in a press briefing at COP21.

Speaking with Climate Home after the announcement, the minister evaded questions it split BASIC.

“Nobody is sidelined. This is not a negotiating team. This is a team of ambition, and we move forward bringing everybody in that can raise that level.”

Norway’s envoy Tine Sundtoft said: The countries represented here come from different negotiating groups and we have different views on a number of issues but we stand together for an ambitious agreement.”

“Paris must set the direction of travel for a low emissions society.”

Asked if other emerging economies had been invited to join, de Brum said they were welcome but the group wouldn’t become just a “green shower”.

“They must bring higher ambition that upholds some of the principles of by which this group is formed.”

According to a notes of discussions from Thursday night, exclusively published by Climate Home, India says five-year review cycles are “a matter of choice”. China is also pushing back against the idea of a global stock take.

Monica Araya, a former negotiator for Costa Rica said the group’s rising number of members surprised observers who portray talks as a tussle between rich and poor nations.

“The world is no longer black and white. It’s messier but its more exciting because now you can’t really label this coalition with an easy adjective.”

Ria Vorhaar, a campaigner at CAN International said innovative coalitions have delivered results when talks have faltered in previous years.

“I have seen talk about their list of demands, now I would really like to see that translate into meaningful things in those conversations going on now.”

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