New Delhi: Environment minister Jairam Ramesh admitted to the Rajya Sabha on Monday that there were differences between the government and the country’s climate change negotiators, even as the Opposition walked out in protest against the minister’s announcement on 3 December that India would voluntarily cut its emissions per unit of national output by a fourth.
Leaders and negotiators from 192 countries are in Copenhagen to try and hammer out a new deal to curb climate change to replace the 1997 Kyoto Protocol that ends in 2012.
Arun Jaitley of the Bharatiya Janata Party, or BJP, leader of the opposition in the Upper House, said: “Government of India has unilaterally altered its position substantially over what India has been saying all these years.” India’s traditional position in climate change negotiations is that countries with low per capita emissions should have lower climate mitigation burdens compared with the rich nations that account for most of the stock of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and should also get financial aid to adopt new low-carbon technologies.
“There is no compromise on India’s national interests. The 25% reduction in emission intensity that we have announced is unilateral and non-binding internationally. It will only strengthen our position to demand more reductions from the West,” Ramesh told the Rajya Sabha.
Dissatisfied: Jaitley said the government has unilaterally altered its position substantially over what India has been saying all these years. Hemant Mishra/Mint
“Only those reductions that are effected with international aid and technology will be subject to scrutiny. The rest will not,” he added.
“Completely dissatisfied” by the minister’s reply, Jaitley and other BJP members staged a walk out and were joined by some members of the Left parties.
Ramesh admitted “it is true that one or two negotiators had some questions on my statements. I have had a discussion with them”. Jaitley charged that the “negotiators appear to be sulking”.
Stating that India, China and Brazil have a BASIC draft for the negotiations in Copenhagen, the minister said the technical and financial help by the developed countries to developing countries such as India “will form the crux of the discussions at Copenhagen”. BASIC is an acronym for four major developing countries: Brazil, South Africa, India and China.
Ramesh also promised to inform the House about the country’s stand before the Indian delegation led by him heads for Copenhagen on Thursday.