India sticks to position on climate change, claims support

July 3rd, 2008 - 12:30 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh
By Joydeep Gupta
New Delhi, July 3 (IANS) India has reiterated its position that there can be no question of developing countries agreeing to mandatory caps on their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, even as US President George W. Bush said again that India and China must be effective partners in a global treaty to combat climate change. Bush said Wednesday he would discuss the issue with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh when he met leaders of the major economies around the G8 summit in Japan next week. Just hours before that, Manmohan Singh’s chief negotiator on climate change Shyam Saran told IANS that there could be no question of India agreeing to a mandatory cap on its GHG emissions.

Mandatory caps and reductions in GHG emissions were for developed countries who were responsible for almost all the excess GHG in the atmosphere, Saran said, adding that this had been clearly stated in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and there could be no question of changing this.

Going further, Saran said India’s position that per capita GHG emissions should be equalised globally had found support from a number of developed countries.

“As a matter of principle, there is no other basis on which we can determine what we have all agreed upon,” he said, “which is that there must be an equitable arrangement.”

“Though we’re not saying this must happen tomorrow, what we’re saying is that the only logical manner in which you can create an equitable climate change regime is by having convergence of per capita emissions as your goal.

“As a principle, this has been welcomed by France, UK, Germany. They have recognised that there is merit in having this kind of a goalpost.”

India has been working in close concert with the Group of 77 countries (G77) and China in international climate change negotiations. Asked if there was support in G77 for India’s position of equal per capita emissions, Saran said: “In G77, we’re not working at the moment on such a specific principle. What we’re working on is the broader goal of common but differentiated responsibilities based on respective capabilities (as mentioned in the UNFCCC.

“India’s principle can be incorporated into that very easily. But to be honest we’ve not done that yet because the G77 works on a consensus approach and we don’t want to disturb that. That does not prevent us from pushing this principle, as India.”

Explaining the importance of the Indian position, which was first stated by the prime minister at last year’s G8 summit in Germany, Saran said: “India has said that at no point will its own per capita emissions exceed that of developed countries.

“Now this is a huge contribution by India to the entire climate change debate. Because, number one, it answers the criticism that while India is asking others to limit and reduce their emissions, what is India prepared to do? Well, India is prepared to accept the limitation on its per capita emissions.

“Number two, they say that while India is asking us to do various things, it is not linked to anything that India is prepared to do. So what we are saying is that your level of ambition will in a sense put a lower level of emissions on us. So the more ambitious you are, the lower our per capita emissions will have to be. So there is a mutual incentive.

“There has been criticism that India has not accepted quantitative limitations (on its GHG emissions) but frankly, this goes beyond that. This is a far more ambitious offer.”

GHG emissions, mainly carbon dioxide, are warming the atmosphere. The resultant climate change is already affecting farm output, leading to more frequent and more droughts, floods and storms and raising the sea level, with the tropics and sub-tropics being the worst-hit areas.

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