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India negotiating emission targets and not UN’s Framework Convention

Written By Gopal Krishna on Wednesday, July 01, 2009 | 4:20 AM

Note: India appreciates US President Barack Obama’s recent appeal to the Senate to reject the Bill passed by the House of Representatives for imposing trade penalties on countries that do not accept limits on greenhouse gas emissions.

India negotiating emission targets and not UN’s Framework Convention

India is not negotiating or re-negotiating United Nation’s Framework of Convention, but is negotiating emission targets. Briefing the media here today about India’s approach to Climate Change, Minister of State for Environment and Forests, Jairam Ramesh said India has no role in building Green House Gases (GHGs). Clearing the misconception about (GHG) emissions, Ramesh said that India is the third largest country in GHG emission volume after the US and China but the climate change is a result of the cumulative impact of GHG in the planetary atmosphere. This accumulated GHG is mainly the result of carbon-based industrial activity in developed countries over the past two centuries. UNFCCC does not require developing countries to take on any commitments on reducing their GHG emissions, despite this India will not allow its per capita GHG emission to exceed the average per capita emissions of the developed countries. The Minister explained, this effectively puts a cap on our emission, which will be lower if our developed country partners choose to be more ambitious in reducing their own emissions.

Making this more clear the Minister said India can not be described as a so called “major emitter”. India’s per capital CO2 emission are currently only 1.1 tonnes, when compared to over 20 tonnes for the US and in excess of 10 tonnes for most OECD countries. The Minister added that the US and China account for over 16% each of the total global emissions, while India trails with just 4%,despite its very large population and rapid growing economy. Thus, India is way down in international ranking.

Talking about major climatic variability which India faces today, Ramesh pointed out that we have already observed warming of 0.40 C from 1901-2000 and receding glaciers in Himalayas at accelerating pace. This also can be due to natural processes, he added. Other expected changes are increase in rainfall by 15-40 %,more warming over land, maximum in North India, relatively greater warming in winter and post monsoon seasons and increase in mean temperature by 30 C to 60 C.

Ramesh emphatically said that we must stop looking at climate change issue as an international issue, we must look at it as a domestic and local issue .It is related to land productivity, food security and energy conservation. He said we might have political differences with our neighbors including Pakistan but on climate change we, all SAARC countries, are together and speak with the same concern.

Highlighting India’s position on Climate Change, the Minister affirmed quoting Prime Minister’s statement that India’s per capita emission levels will never exceed that of the per capita emission level of developed countries. India cannot and will not take emission reduction targets because poverty eradication and social and economic development are first and over-riding priorities. He further said that each human being has equal right to global atmospheric resources. Common but differentiated responsibility is the basis for all climate change actions, he added. Throwing light on India’s primary focus, Environment Minister said that India’s primary focus is on “adaptation” and not “mitigation”. He made it clear that mitigation can be accepted in few areas. Only those nationally Appropriate Mitigation actions (NAMs) can be subject to international monitoring, reporting and verification that are enabled and supported by international finance and technology transfer. He also explained that India wants a comprehensive approach to Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD) and advocates REDD that includes conservation, afforestation and sustainable management of forests.

Ramesh announced with pride that 227 scientists and 98 institutions, Univercities, IITs, CSIRs etc are involved in National Programme on Climate Change. He informed that India advocates collaborative research in future low-carbon technology and access to intellectual property rights (IPRs) as global public goods.

Referring to some issues of concern, Ramesh said differentiation amongst developing countries sought to be introduced by alternative multilateral forums and parallel bilateral negotiations. Ambiguity in responsibility for finance and technology transfer, sectoral approaches to mitigation actions outside Bali, move to limit scope of Clean development Mechanism (CDM),impose trade penalties on countries that do not accept limits on global warming pollution are other issues of concern. Referring to this trade penalty Bill passed by US House of Representatives before the US Senate proposes to impose trade penalties, Jairam said India will not accept any legally binding emission Reduction target as it will jeopardize our energy conservation, agricultural and food security, transport etc.

Giving India’s contribution to Climate Change negotiations, Ramesh said we are actively involved with G77 and China to evolve common position on negotiations. We have made 9 submissions to UNFCCC on finance, technology, forestry and other areas. We have worked with China, Brazil, South Africa and 33 other countries to present a joint proposal for emission reduction targets by Annex1 countries in second commitment period.
Talking about efforts of 8 National Missions, the Minister said that they are in different phases of operation. Besides this, other 24 critical initiatives are in the anvil for which detailed plans and an institutional framework is being prepared.

PIB
June 30, 2009
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