Environmental groups critcise Ramesh on binding commitments

Thursday, December 9, 2010

NEW DELHI - Environmental organisations Thursday criticised India’s stand at the climate change talks in Cancun that it is willing to accept legally binding emission cuts, saying it will remove the distinction between developing and developed countries.

Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh in a statement Wednesday at the climate change talks said that “all countries must take binding commitments under appropriate legal forms” to control their emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG).

Prodipto Ghosh, former environment secretary and distinguished fellow at The Energy Research Institute (TERI), said that the minister’s statement is a departure from India’s previous stand that it won’t accept legally binding emission cuts.

“European Union and the US have been pressing for a legally binding agreement for India and China,” said Ghosh, who was member of India’s core negotiating group on climate change at Copenhagen last year.

He declined to comment on the implications of accepting legally binding commitments until he sees the entire statement.

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

Calling it unfortunate, the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) said the minister’s statement opens the door for internationalising India’s domestic commitments.

According to CSE, the minister’s official printed speech did not contain this statement and he reportedly added it extempore as he delivered his speech.

“India has always maintained that its domestic mitigation actions (reduction in emissions intensity by 20-25 percent below 2005 levels by 2020) are voluntary in nature and not binding international commitments,” said Chandra Bhushan, deputy director, CSE.

In a pre-CoP (Conference of the Parties) meeting in Mexico, Ramesh had taken a first step towards internationalising India’s domestic commitments by agreeing on International Consultation and Analysis (ICA) of domestic actions.

“Now he has moved a step forward and, as his statement suggests, opened the doors for converting India’s domestic actions into international commitments. It is the beginning of the process which will lead to removal of distinctions between developing and developed countries, which is the cornerstone of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC),” Bhushan pointed out.

Industrialised or developed countries have a historical responsibility to cut emissions since they have been emitting for several years. The developing world, on the other hand, needs the right to develop. This is the key premise that differentiates the two blocs from each other.

Filed under: Diplomacy

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