New Delhi: India is ready to quantify the amount of planet-warming gas emissions it could cut with domestic actions to fight climate change, the environment minister said on Thursday, but will not accept internationally binding targets.
Jairam Ramesh’s comment marks a shift in the position of India, which is under no obligation to cut emissions and is trying to reach out to rich nations by underscoring the actions it is taking to fight global warming.
The stand is likely to strengthen India’s stance at crucial negotiations in Copenhagen in December on a treaty to succeed the Kyoto Protocol, which obliges 37 developed nations to cut emissions by an average of 5% below 1990 levels by 2008-12.
Talks are currently deadlocked on the question of levels of emission cuts to be taken by rich countries and developing nations. Rich nations will also have to come up with billions of dollars in aid and green technologies for the poor.
“We do not see a problem in giving a broad indicative number on the quantity of (emission) reduction as a result of our domestic unilateral actions,” Ramesh told Reuters.
The emission reduction would not take the shape of legally binding targets open to outside scrutiny. Neither would it form a new negotiating position for India.
The minister described the new stand as a “nuanced shift” in India’s position aimed at calling the bluff of rich countries which want growing economies such as India to take emissions targets because it is among the biggest polluters.
Shift in the atmospherics
Developing countries, which do not have to reduce emissions and need only undertake adaptation steps under international obligations, say they can not limit economic growth needed to lift millions of people out of poverty.
Yet, India says it is taking steps not only to adapt to climate change but also limit and reduce emissions, primarily through domestic actions such as increased use of renewable energy and more efficient use of energy.
Ramesh said last week India was also willing to draft national legislation on voluntary aspirational emission reduction targets. India, where about half a billion people do not have access to electricity, said this month its greenhouse gas emissions could double or more than triple to 7.3 billion tonnes by 2031. But its per-capita emissions would still be below the global average.
Despite the mitigation steps, many in the West still see India as intransigent.
“India is not the one holding up the negotiations,” Ramesh said. “We have no historical responsibility for the present (climate) mess nor do we have any commitment to reduce emissions. Yet we are doing more than many other countries which created this problem and are bound by international law to take targetted emission cuts.”
“The shift is in the atmospherics of the negotiations,” he said, referring to India’s increasing efforts to be seen as doing more than enough to help seal a deal in Copenhagen.