New Delhi: India’s position on climate change stands on four pillars. The same pillars which have held up the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol.
Though in the recent past the government has attempted to change, or at least nuance, the country’s stand according to pressures and expectations from the West, the four pillars still stand, albeit a little chipped.
Graphics: Ahmed Raza Khan / Mint
First, India states that it is the West that has created the problem of climate change by spewing excessive amounts of greenhouse gases, usurping more atmospheric space than its share. Therefore, India argues, it is the rich countries that should bear the burden, starting with deep emission cuts in the medium (till 2020) and long (2050) terms. India, along with 36 other developing countries, including China, has demanded that developed countries commit to 25-40% cut in emissions below 1990 levels by 2020.
Since developing countries have taken up less than their share of the carbon space, India says that poorer nations should not have to commit to emission cut targets. India still has around 400 million people who do not have access to energy. To ensure this, as well as a basic standard of living, India will need more atmospheric space for emissions. These are by-products of fossil fuel combustion, a non-negotiable for India.
Third, the richer countries, through financial transfers and technological help, should fund even the mitigation action that India and other developing countries agree to take domestically. The Group of 77 holds that if it needs to leapfrog to a cleaner economy, it will need massive public finance to the tune of 1% of the gross domestic product of rich countries. It also argues that, apart from financial help, it is the access to clean technologies in fields such as renewable energy and clean coal that is critical to move to a low-carbon growth path.
Developed countries have demanded that any mitigation action from developing countries, whether funded by the industrialized nations or not, should be registered internationally and be open to scrutiny and verification. India has steadfastly said that only those actions which are supported technologically and financially by the West will be eligible for such registry.
Lastly, India, China, South Africa and Brazil have together stated that they will walk out of the climate talks if they are forced to accept peaking of their emissions. Such a pledge would bind a country to not exceeding emissions after the peaking year.