Political parties slam Ramesh on binding commitments

Friday, December 10, 2010

NEW DELHI - India’s radical change of stance at Cancun to accept legally binding emission cuts has been slammed back home, with political parties saying Friday that Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh succumbed to pressure from the US and that it was a sell out to developed countries. Ramesh later claried that he had not deviated from India’s known position.

What Jairam Ramesh said here was different from what he said there. Everytime he is twisting and changing his statement and this is going to harm the country’s interests. The way he is presenting India’s case there is self deceiving, said Tarun Vijay of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Speaking at the high-level segment of the annual UN Framework Convention on Climate Change conference at Cancun, Ramesh Wednesday said that “all countries must take binding commitments under appropriate legal form” to control their emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) - mainly carbon dioxide - which are causing climate change.

Ramesh later clarified: What I have said does not contradict our known position. We do not intend to make our domestic actions on climate change legally binding in nature.”

Strongly condemning Ramesh’s statement at Cancun, Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) politburo member Brinda Karat said: The position of the Indian delegation at Cancun led by Jairam Ramesh in which they have succumbed to the pressure primarily by the US led developed countries to agree to legally binding limitations on emissions can be described only in two words ’sell out’ .

It is extremely unfortunate and we strongly condemn it and demand the government to come clean on it, she told reporters here.

The legally binding agreement means emission cut targets will be set for all the countries and failing to meet them will call for penalties.

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.

As of now, the Kyoto Protocol is the only legally binding document which talks of emission cuts by the developed countries while this is voluntary for the developing countries.

Under the Kyoto Protocol, developed countries are required to make targeted cuts in their GHG emissions while developing countries set their own domestic targets.

But after accepting the binding commitments, Indian along with all countries will have to take targeted GHG emission cuts and failing to fulfill this will attract penalties.

This move will remove the difference between developed countries, which are historic polluters, and developing countries.

But, as Ramesh said, there is lot of ambiguity about who will set the decide the targets, penalty clauses and money required for developing countries to take climate change mitigation measures.

It appears that Ramesh has given an indication that India will move with an open mind is willing to accept the legally binding commitment. This goes beyond the stated position of India. It is a serious issue as it goes beyond what has been decided by the government and what the government has been pursuing with the approval of the parliament, said Communist Party leader D. Raja.

According to environmentalists, 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.

Sunita Narain, director, Centre For Science and Environment (CSE), termed Ramesh’s remarks unfortunate and a complete capitulation to the US position.

The US has been completely clear that it will do nothing which it needs to do (on emission cuts). India shifted its position to completely let the US off the hook. This is completely unacceptable and this is bad for climate change and bad for India. I am completely appalled at the minister’s statement at Cancun, said Narain.

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