Chinas climate change rubs off on India

Written by Kirtika Suneja | New Delhi | Updated: Dec 7 2011, 06:05am hrs
India has said it is open to negotiate on mitigation issues at the Durban climate talks but said developed countries have to show clear commitment to reduce their carbon footprints. The Indian response makes the chances of the global ministerial level talks on climate change yielding clear solutions as China too said it favoured legally binding carbon emissions cuts on Monday.

Environment minister Jayanthi Natarajan said: I have come to Durban with an open mind. But she said I would like to know whether (targets) for binding would be only for mitigation and whether it will be same for (all).

But both China and India said their positions on the talks have not changed. China's climate negotiator Xie Zenhua said his country wanted to ensure all previous commitments by the industrial countries were met before entering into the next phase. If that happened, he said, China could discuss a post-2020 deal that would mean setting annual targets to cut down carbon emissions. The framework, I think, should be a legally binding one, or some documents to that effect, he said.

India and China are among the largest polluters in the world ranking third and first, respectively.

US envoy Todd Stern said the United States too had no objection to a post-2020 treaty as long as it treats everyone the same. Natarajan and Xies comments came as part of the initial position of the countries in the 194 country negotiations to hammer out a post Kyoto protocol. The first commitment period for the protocol ends in 2012. But Xie set several preconditions, including an extension of the Kyoto commitments for industrial countries, honoring commitments on immediate and long-term financial aid to poor countries, and delivery on promises of new technologies to develop low-carbon economies.

The Indian industry on Tuesday handed over its wish list for the Durban climate talks to the government seeking clear road map for technology transfer and removal of barriers to trade from the global climate policy regime, said agency reports. In letters to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Natarajan, Ficci has urged Technology transfer should be given high priority through a separate window under the Green Climate Fund. A CII delegation led by its past president Arun Bharat Ram met Natarajan in Durban and emphasised that the 17th Conference of Parties should establish the second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol.

India wants equity should be the central tenet of the climate change talks. As per the Copenhagen Accord 2009, China had committed to cut emission intensity by 40-45% from 2005 to 2020 which is domestically binding but was characterised by China as voluntary action.

On the other hand, India had committed to emission intensity (per unit of GDP) by 20-25% from 2005 to 2020.

The developing countries want the developed countries to set global emission reduction targets while the latter want the former to take legally binding emission cuts.

India, till now, has followed a hardline approach and the delegation led by Natarajan has categorically stated that the issues of trade, adaptation and equitable access will have to be sorted out first.

For the Durban conference of parties (CPO), we look forward to the operationalisation of Cancun decisions and to ensure that some of the issues relating to the Bali Roadmap are not lost sight of. Issues related to finance, technology transfer, adaptation and REDD+ are key deliverables for the Durban Conference, Natarajan said.

As part of the Cancun agreement of 2010, the developed countries had agreed to set up a technology mechanism and networks of climate technology centers along with fast track finance of $30 billion till 2012 and a long term climate fund of $100 billion.

Without a response based on equity we cannot solve the problem. architecture we create and promote should be based on recognition of these fundamental principles. Equity is absolutely central to the climate change debate, Natarajan said at the sidelines of the Durban talks where she landed on Monday and had a series of bilateral discussions with the BASIC countries of Brazil, South Africa and China.

New Delhi has avoided international pressure on taking mitigation targets and instead is more keen on adaptation. Also, unlike the last two summits, India has been insisting on greater binding commitments from the developed countries before beginning to discuss the developed countries demand for mandatory action by all nations on limiting global warming.

However, the talks being held in South Africa which will have to be impartial towards the negotiations and China's softening of stand might turn the tide of the negotiations especially because India and China are an integral part of the G-77 plus China group that has been articulating a common position for a long time.