New Delhi: Jairam Ramesh, minister of state for environment and forests, continued to defy critics and stuck to his stand on how India should recast its stance on climate change ahead of a key meeting in Copenhagen in December.
The environment minister has been pushing to reposition India’s stand, thus far largely perceived as a “deal breaker”.
On Tuesday, Ramesh sought to extricate himself from a sticky situation a day after two key political rivals of the Congress, of which he is a part, as well as some members of India’s negotiating team accused him of diluting India’s existing stand on climate change. The critics were referring to the 10-point communication sent by Ramesh to the Prime Minister on 13 October.
Clarifying position: Environment minister Jairam Ramesh says India’s interests alone will dictate the negotiating stance adopted. Harikrishna Katragadda / Mint
Claiming that these were “insinuations”, Ramesh reiterated that “India’s interests and India’s interests alone shall dictate our negotiating stance”.
The minister clarified that he had at no stage sought to suggest that India would renegotiate the provisions and principles of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) or accept legally binding emission reductions. “Internationally legally binding emission reduction targets are for developed countries and developed countries alone as globally agreed under the Bali Action Plan.”
Speaking to Mint, Ramesh clarified that his reference in his communication to the Prime Minister with respect to countries accepting “differential obligations” was consistent with India’s stand.
“It means (mandatory emission) cuts for developed countries and (voluntary emission reduction) actions for developing countries,” he said.
Similarly, the statement also defended his stance on putting domestic mitigation projects for an international review under the auspices of UNFCCC. The clarification states that measuring, reporting and verification (MRV) is only for mitigation actions “enabled and supported by international finance and technology”.
“The domestic mitigation actions will only be open for a review and not an MRV,” Ramesh said.
The response to the minister’s clarification was mixed.
“In my view, the PMO (Prime Minister’s Office) has clarified the position in a more timely and welcome manner. It is now clear that the document in question is only a note for discussion, not official policy. It is also been clarified that there will be a shift only after consensus and with the sanction of Parliament. This is most appropriate since our climate change policy has always been based on a national consensus,” said Chandrashekhar Dasgupta, a member of the Indian delegation on climate change.
However, not everyone agrees.
“Of course there have been changes in the past six months but most of them have been for the good. India has become more proactive but we don’t need to compromise to become a leader. For instance, India helped bring together 37 countries at the negotiations to demand 40% cuts in emissions from the West. We need to see more of that,” said Sunita Narain, who is a member of the PM’s council on climate change and also director, Centre for Science and Environment, a Delhi-based activist group.