India asks Australia to clarify statement on climate change measures

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Copenhagen (Denmark), Oct 12 (ANI): India has asked Australia's Environment Minister Penny Wong to clarify a proposal that she had put forward at a climate change conference in the US last month, and said Australia's attempt to break the deadlock between developed and developing countries over a global climate change agreement ahead of the Copenhagen summit in December is unacceptable in its current form.

The Australian quoted Indian Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh as saying that the Wong plan, which involves developing nations committing to their own binding schedule of measures to reduce carbon emissions, but would not be locked into internationally determined targets, is questionable on two counts.

"I like the proposal and I have an open mind about it, but there are two problems, which I have raised with Penny Wong," Ramesh said.

He said it was fundamental that any agreement preserve the distinction made under the Kyoto Protocol between so-called Annex 1 nations, developed countries, and developing nations.

The EU, the US and other developed nations have argued that the Kyoto division between Annex 1 nations and non-Annex 1 nations is out of date and that fast-developing nations such as India and China should also sign up to binding emission-reduction targets.

In a speech in New York last month, Senator Wong said developing countries with "greater capacity and responsibility" would have to promise actions that added up to "significant reductions below baselines".

Ramesh said India would not agree to fixed targets.

"We are not obligated to take on legally binding emission-reduction targets. That is not on the table as far as India is concerned. There must be a distinction drawn between Annex 1 and non-Annex 1 countries. If all countries are treated as equal, then the proposal is doomed," he said.

Speaking to The Australian at a conference for newspaper editors in Copenhagen, Ramesh said he had also asked Senator Wong to clarify the legally binding nature of the schedule of mitigation measures countries such as India would have to agree to under the Australian proposal.

Ramesh told the conference - organised by the international syndication agency Project Syndicate and sponsored by the Danish government - that the Indian government would introduce nationally accountable mitigation measures that would be domestically binding, allowing the Indian parliament to hold the government to account.

They would include mandated fuel efficiency standards, stricter building codes and a commitment to use clean coal technology in new coal-fired power plants.

Ramesh said that while India was going to Copenhagen as "a deal-maker, not a deal-breaker", delegates should not allow the conference to be derailed by exaggerated expectations.

He said the aim should be for a partial deal on issues such as reforestation, financing from rich countries to nations affected by global warming and technology transfer at the December 7-18 meeting; and then to return in the European summer of next year to clinch the agreement.

Ramesh warned against repeating the "all or nothing" mistake of the Doha round of trade talks.

Ramesh said climate talks in Bangkok, which ended on Friday, had left a big gap in trust between developing and industrialised nations.

Ramesh's comments reflect a strong resistance by fast-developing nations China and India to the notion that they should be treated differently from other developing nations in an international climate change agreement.

The two countries are seeking to preserve their leadership role within the G-77 group of developing nations, which is negotiating on behalf of their collective economic interests in climate change talks. (ANI)

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