Climate change: India not changing goal posts, PM may go to Copenhagen

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Port of Spain, Nov.29 (ANI): India is not changing its goal posts on the issue of climate change and is ready to contribute to the global campaign for emission reduction on the "principle of equity", said Shyam Saran, the Special Envoy of the Indian Prime Minister on Climate Change here.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has said that New Delhi favours an equal sharing of the global emission burden reduction.

Seeking to bring clarity to the Prime Minister's statement, Saran said: "It is okay to talk about those global targets, but unless you accompany those global targets with a clear understanding about how a burden is going to be shared among developed and developing countries, this will not confirm to the principle of equity."

"So, it is not that the Prime Minister was signing on to emission reduction targets for India. What he was saying was that as far as the global goal is concerned, to which we are ready to contribute with whatever resources are available to us, which we are already doing. But, if we are expected to do more, then unless there is support available in terms of finance, technology or in terms of capacity building, we will not be able to do this," he added.

Leaders of the 53-nation Commonwealth primarily discussed how to fight global warming ahead of December 7-18 Climate Summit in Copenhagen

Intervening during a special session on climate change at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting here, Singh had expressed India's willingness to sign on to an ambitious global target for emissions reductions, but with an equitable burden-sharing paradigm.

Dr. Singh then warned: "Climate change is becoming the pretext for pursuing protectionist policies under a green label. This would be contrary to the UNFCCC and a violation of the WTO as well. India and other developing countries will strongly resist this."

"We are only days away from the convening of the 15th Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Copenhagen. India has repeatedly emphasized the need for the Copenhagen outcome to be comprehensive, balanced and above all, equitable," he added.

"It must be comprehensive in the sense that it must cover all the inter-related components of mitigation, adaptation, finance and technology. This means we should resist a partial outcome. Furthermore, there must be balance and equal priority given to each of the four components. Mitigation is important, but cannot take precedence over adaptation which, for many countries represented here, poses a greater challenge," Dr. Singh said.

He added: "And most important from our perspective, is the need to ensure an equitable outcome corresponding to the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities."

Nearly half of the Commonwealth's members are small island states, and developing nations have been appealing for hefty financial aid from rich governments to help them counter climate change and reduce carbon pollution.

While next month's U.N. talks are not expected to result in an immediate approval for a detailed climate treaty, the wording of the Commonwealth climate declaration has made it clear that its leaders expect that any deal reached at Copenhagen would be 'operationally binding' on all nations and lead quickly to a definitive treaty.

The three-day Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) began in Port of Spain on Friday.

Around half of the 53-nation Commonwealth group, mainly former British colonies, are island nations scattered across the world's oceans. Some of these fear they could be swamped or even literally wiped off the map in the coming decades if sea levels rise as a result of worsening climate change.

The climate treaty to be adopted as a final text next year, will replace the Kyoto Protocol expiring in 2012. India, however, is of the emphatic view that obligations related to the climate change issue will and should go beyond the year 2012.

The Indian Prime Minister has said the protocol will not expire in 2012 as was being thought in some quarters. Rather, 2012 would mark the end of the first commitment period for developed country parties to fulfil their legally binding obligations to reduce their economy-wide emissions by a specific quantified figure.

He has said that there is a need for developed countries to sign on to more significant obligations in the second commitment period commencing in 2013, as despite the efforts of the developing country parties to the Protocol, no progress has been achieved in fulfilling the mandate of the Working Group on Kyoto Protocol, which has been meeting for the past three years.

"The attempts by some countries to dispense with the Kyoto Protocol altogether has generated avoidable misgivings and has been strongly resisted by all developing countries without exception. We hope that a legally valid instrument, to which we too are parties, will not be set-aside in a cavalier manner. This will undermine credibility in any future legally binding instrument," Dr. Singh said.

There are suggestions here that the Indian Prime Minister will travel to Copenhagen for the summit around the middle of next month.

Earlier reports have said that he may just depute Minister of State for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh and his Special Envoy Shyam Saran to pitch India's views firmly at the global interaction. By Smita Prakash (ANI)

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