Environment minister Prakash Javadekar. Photo: Reuters
Environment minister Prakash Javadekar. Photo: Reuters

India says ‘much work needed’ to strike climate deal, criticizes rich nations

Environment minister Prakash Javadekar says it is deeply disappointing that rich nations are trying to shift their responsibilities to developing countries

New Delhi: Highlighting its disappointment that developed countries were unwilling to fulfil their commitment on climate finance, India has severely criticized rich nations for trying to shift their responsibilities to developing countries. It said “much work is needed to reach a point of convergence" to decide a new global climate deal at Paris.

“On finance, it is deeply disappointing that on the one hand developed countries are not fulfilling their obligations and on the other hand, they are trying to shift their responsibilities to developing countries themselves. There is no indication of scaling up of finance nor a clear roadmap," said India’s environment minister Prakash Javadekar late on Wednesday night after a draft agreement at the ongoing Paris climate summit.

The draft released on Wednesday afternoon, two days before the end of the Paris climate talks, showed sharp divisions between developed and developing countries. The draft, released by French foreign minister Laurent Fabius, showed that climate finance, technology transfer, loss and damage, and historic responsibility of industrialized countries for global carbon emissions continued to divide the rich nations from the rest. India, along with other major developing economies like Brazil and South Africa, has clearly called for the requirement of differentiation to be one of main features of the Paris agreement.

India also said several of its concerns like sustainable lifestyles and climate justice do not find a mention in the draft. Climate justice is a cause that has been repeatedly emphasized by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the run-up to the Paris summit and in his address at the summit as well.

“The latest draft is a starting point for our final push. But at this stage there are many points of departure. Much work is needed to reach a point of convergence. We will examine the draft carefully and engage with all our partners to reach an agreement," Javadekar said.

He said the agreement that we are crafting must carefully balance climate ambition and the principle of differentiation. “Both are equally important. We cannot have one without the other," he added.

The summit that is scheduled to end Friday evening—11 December—will now see hectic parleys and political discussions in order to reach an agreement.

Javadekar, however, also clarified that India is willing to be flexible and look forward.

“We are not suggesting that we remain stuck to the past. Surely, we must look forward and move steadily. But a durable agreement cannot be crafted by diluting historical responsibilities or by putting the polluters and the victims at the same level," said Javadekar.

Negotiators and ministers from over 190 countries gathered in Paris on 30 November to open the Conference of Parties (CoP) under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) for a new deal.

But the disagreements mean that the burden of reaching a deal now falls on the heads of states who had gathered in Paris at the start of the summit on 30 November. Countries must reach a consensus for a new climate agreement in the post-2020 period.

However, signs of such political manoeuvring are already on display with US President Barack Obama Tuesday calling Prime Minister Narendra Modi to discuss climate change. US secretary of state John Kerry also interacted with India’s environment minister Prakash Javadekar who is attending the Paris talks. Interestingly, in the run-up to the Paris summit, Kerry had said India will be a challenge at the Paris summit.

Meanwhile, Javadekar also empahsized that the concept of intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs) has proved to be a game-changer but even then they have not found a mention in the draft agreement. INDCs are voluntary pledges to cut carbon emission that every country has taken in run-up to Paris summit.

The environment minister also stressed that they are sensitive towards demands for higher climate ambition but that would require developed countries to massively reduce their emissions and massively “scale up" their financial support to developing countries which is “not happening".