India clashes with EU, US at Bonn climate change talks

India clashes with EU, US at Bonn climate change talks

New Delhi: India has reacted strongly to efforts by the US and the European Union (EU) to use statements made by it in non-United Nations (UN) forum to attempt to influence the agenda of the climate change negotiations due in Copenhagen, Denmark, in December.

The Indian response came during the five-day climate talks in Bonn, Germany, hosted by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)—the UN forum which is responsible for any internationally binding agreement on climate change.

The developed countries were drawing on the declaration signed by India at the Major Economies Forum (MEF) in Egypt, which laid down that 17 countries had agreed to cap the increase in temperatures leading to global warming at 2 degrees Celsius. The US is now arguing that this will form the basis for the “shared vision" at Copenhagen meet.

The Indian stand had been criticized domestically on the grounds that it could end up bearing some of the burden of this commitment in terms of cuts in emission of global warming gases. This was because no burden-sharing agreement had been included in the declaration.

India has all along argued that developing countries like it cannot accept mandatory emission cuts because it could jeopardise development as it inevitably means accepting lower economic growth.

Shyam Saran, Prime Minister’s special envoy on climate change and leading the Indian delegation at Bonn, said: “MEF discussions are to take direction, but it is not negotiation. It is strange that the poverty reduction goal from the declaration was not picked, but the 2 degrees Celsius goal was mentioned."

At the Bonn meet, the US drew attention to MEF, while Australia said that outcomes from meetings such as the Group of Eight and MEF provide useful inputs for the Copenhagen discussions. Mint reported on non-UN talks on climate gaining more traction and its dangers on 12 August.

According to Earth Negotiations Bulletin, an independent reporting service that provides daily information from multilateral negotiations on environment and sustainable development, the EU claimed that developed and developing nations have not only made progress to limiting warming, but also on the idea of peaking emissions (after which emission levels have to contract) and a move towards low-carbon economies.

The risk associated with the idea of limiting peaking year for developing countries is because it restricts emissions growth and the aim of 2 degrees Celsius, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the UN body that quantifies the impact of climate change, requires peaking of global emissions by 2015. Both Japan and the EU highlighted the need for a long-term goal and peaking.

“It is a very tough situation for India. On the one hand, if you don’t attend these meetings, you are regarded as a spoiler. And on the other hand, if you do, then it is misused," said a policy analyst, who did not want to be identified.

He added that aspirational goals such as the MEF declaration are nothing new. “But here we are seeing aspirational goals being taken as commitments, and commitments (under the Kyoto Protocol) made by developed world being taken as aspirations, as we hardly see any progress on those elements."