Jairam Ramesh, activists differ over India’s Cancun gains

December 12th, 2010 - 9:52 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Dec 12 (IANS) Even as Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh feels that “India’s interests had been fully protected” at the just-concluded climate summit in Cancun, environmentalists were left unimpressed.The UN climate summit reached the Cancun Agreement early Saturday - but there was no mention of the extent to which industrialised countries would commit to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions after 2012, when the Kyoto Protocol’s commitment period ends.

The agreement says that developing countries will have to take “nationally appropriate actions” to curb their emissions by 2020. Hence, developing nations don’t have to take targeted emission cuts like their developed counterparts.

But environmentalists said the agreement was ineffective.

“The agreement is bad for climate change action. There is no global emission reduction target for 2050; nor is there a target for peaking year,” said Chandra Bhushan, deputy director of environmental NGO Centre for Science and Environment (CSE).

“There is no mention of equitable access to carbon space, instead a weak and meaningless language of ‘equitable access to sustainable development’ has been inserted, which will compromise India’s right to development,” he added.

Earlier, Ramesh created a furore by saying that “all countries must take binding commitments under appropriate legal form”.

This was a major departure in the 17-year climate talks, as India had thus far led developing countries in the stance that global warming was a problem caused by rich countries, and it was up to them to reduce their GHG emissions.

Opposition parties had slammed his statement, saying he had succumbed to US pressure and that it would affect the country’s economic growth.

The environment minister later clarified that he had not deviated from India’s known position.

According to Ramesh, India’s right to development had been safeguarded by the deletion of the clause which wanted GHG emissions - which cause global warming - to be reduced by half by 2050 and postponing the decision to select a ‘peak year’ for global emmissions.

Peak year is the period that policymakers will have to select as the deadline after which global emissions would have to be reduced.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), in its last assessment report, said that to limit global warming, emissions must peak between 2000 and 2015.

Pointing out paragraphs in the Cancun Agreement that had been drafted by the environment ministry, as well as clauses that had been dropped at the Indian delegates’ insistence, Ramesh said: “The BASIC countries (Brazil, South Africa, India, China) are very happy with the agreement.”

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