India under pressure to accept legally binding pact at Cancun

India under pressure to accept legally binding pact at Cancun

Cancun: As the climate change conference here winds down, India is coming under immense pressure to accept a “legally binding agreement" on climate change, which is causing rift within developing countries.

The United States, India and China are not in favor of accepting a legally binding agreement, which is supported by other developed countries, and several nations within the G-77 including African nations and Least Developed Countries.

“There is a concerted move by a group of developed countries using developing countries to put pressure on India and China to accept a legally binding agreement," environment minister Jairam Ramesh said.

Pushing hardest for a legally binding treaties are small island nations, which are the most vulnerable to climate change.

Countries in India’s vicinity - Bangladesh, Maldives, Bhutan and Nepal - are also supporting a legally binding agreement.

India’s close allies on the climate change issue - Brazil and South Africa - are also in favor of a legally binding agreement, which is causing divisions within the Basic group.

“This pressure is coming from developed countries through AOSIS, Basic and LDCs," Ramesh said, adding “India and China are united and Brazil and South Africa are united."

“At this stage India’s strategy is to keep the door open, the door was being closed on us," he told journalists.

With the conference closing tomorrow, India has objected to raising the issue so late in the day.

It has also said that currently it is important to concentrate on the Kyoto Protocol, which is the only legally binding treaty on climate change, but its future is uncertain since several countries want to abandon it.

Speaking at an open meeting, Ramesh told delegates that “all countries must take on binding commitments under appropriate legal form."

Later, the minister indicated that he raised this point to assure countries close to India like Nepal and Bangladesh that New Delhi was committed to fulfilling its domestic commitments.

“We will honor these," he said, noting that India was not ready to reflect these in an international agreement yet.

The present discussion has also raised questions about what constitutes the “bindingness" of a treaty.

India, for instance, argues that consensual decisions taken under annual climate conferences can be considered binding.