US to ‘facilitate’ Indian technology proposal in climate deal

April 10th, 2009 - 12:27 pm ICT by IANS  

By Dipankar De Sarkar
Bonn, April 10 (IANS) The United States is “very interested” in an Indian proposal to create a global network of climate technology centres and thinks it deserves to make it to a UN climate change agreement scheduled for later this year.

Jonathan Pershing, the US President’s Deputy Special Envoy for Climate Change, told IANS on the sidelines of a UN conference here that there was “enormous opportunity for common work” between India and the US over efforts to combat climate change.

The Bonn conference, which ended Wednesday without accord on key issues, was the first of several organised by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in the lead up to a December summit where countries will try to agree to a final climate deal.

Pershing said that US negotiators plan to hold a series of bilateral meetings with Indian business leaders to explore how they can be involved in proposals seeking to foster technological solutions to the problem of climate change, which is caused by greenhouse gases emitted in the process of industrial production.

He specifically welcomed an Indian proposal submitted to the UNFCCC Monday seeking to establish a series of Climate Innovation Centres, each focusing on developing a key technological product that would help countries mitigate the emission of greenhouse gases or adapt to the impact of climate change.

“I think the US is very interested in that deal. There may be ways to facilitate that in the agreement,” Pershing told IANS.

The Indian delegation to the talks, led by the Prime Minister’s Special Envoy Shyam Saran, highlighted technology transfer as a key Indian demand, arguing in the proposal that “technology is the only way to achieve the high-impact changes required.”

Significantly, the Indian proposal also calls for a more lenient global patents regime - or Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) - on grounds that negotiators privately said resemble those cited some years ago to help loosen patents over life-saving drugs in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

“In order to enable the widest diffusion and transfer of cutting edge climate technologies, it is important that we review the international IPR regime to balance rewards for innovators with the greater good of humankind,” the proposal said.

As the conference wound up after 10 days of negotiations, Pershing said the US was “impressed by the commitments and actions being taken by large developing countries like India, China and Indonesia.’

“If we look at their domestic programmes, they have already begun to take significant steps forward on climate change.

“Significant efforts are underway in India. We see programmes on renewables, land management, programmes that address adaptation right now, in advance of any action or formal commitments by the Convention parties” - countries that are signatories to the UNFCCC.

Pershing’s comments came at the close of a meeting marked by major differences between the demands made by industrialised and developing countries.

Developing countries want to see wealthy industrialised nations pledge much deeper cuts in the emissions of their greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide.

But industrialised countries argue that major developing countries such as India and China must also commit to cuts and open up their climate change programmes to international scrutiny.

Developing countries say their emissions are tiny compared to those of the developed world, when calculated on a per capita basis.

They also point out that the entire UN climate change negotiating process is based on the fundamental principle that industrialised countries, who are mainly responsible for causing climate change, must move before developing countries.

(Dipankar De Sarkar can be contacted at dd.sarkar@ians.in)

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