‘India Playing a Proactive Role in Climate Discussions’

Dec 12th, 2014 | By | Category: Government Policies, India

Union Environment and Forests Minister Prakash Javadekar stressed on India’s commitment to protecting the interests of the poor at the international climate community meeting in Lima this week.

The meeting in Peru will discuss draft text of an agreement to be signed in Paris next year and countries are expected to come up with their Intended Nationally Determined Commitments by June 2015.

Bhaskar Deol, India Representative based in Delhi with the Natural Resources Defense Council says that the past few weeks we have seen the new government taking a proactive role in international climate discussions. “Environment minister Prakash Javadekar played a positive role in the Montreal Protocol discussions that concluded in Paris earlier in November and now he is playing that role in Lima.”

At Lima too, India’s interventions are keeping in line with the spirit of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and larger interest of developing countries. Arunabha Ghosh, CEO, The Council on Energy, Environment and Water says that India has so far stuck to its previous stand of focusing on differentiation between Annex I and Non-Annex I countries through the principle of Common But Differentiated Responsibilities (CBDR), urging the developed nations to increase the ambition of their mitigation commitments and ensuring that adequate support in the form of finance and technology are available to the developing countries.

Manish Kumar Shrivastava, Fellow, The Energy and Resources Institute, New Delhi says that demanding higher level of ambition from developed countries on account of historical responsibility and capability has been the hall mark of India’s position in climate change. For the draft negotiating text, India has very strongly opposed three major components.

The first being the proposal of ex ante review of intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs) which amount to allowing the international community to determine national contributions, as this is against the principle of sovereignty.

Second is the developed country proposal to almost exclusively limit INDCs to quantifiable mitigation actions. Shrivastava says India has argued that climate response needs multiple types of actions.

Hence, besides mitigation, adaptation, technology transfer, finance and capacity building are also important contributions. This understanding is consistent with the UNFCCC provisions and various Conference of the Parties (COP) decisions. It encourages developing countries to develop mitigation and adaptation strategies and forces developed countries to also come forward with, in addition to their mitigation commitments, measurable pledges on technology transfer and finance.

India has strongly proposed the need for targeted joint technology research and development initiatives. Third is the proposal demanding local and city governments in developing countries to report on their actions. So far, local and city governments across countries have developed a voluntary cooperation on climate action while staying within the nationally determined climate policy. This proposal implies that local and city governments can act independently of national strategy, which amounts to interference with national governance and polity structure.

Experts say that while India continues to champion the case of the developing world, the Indian negotiation team should contribute constructively to ensure the creation of a robust framework for the crucial talks in Paris next year.

Ghosh says that as a way forward, India should build new coalitions of partners focusing on issues of direct concern to its development priorities. These would include partnerships on global initiatives on energy access, energy efficiency, energy storage, and low-carbon rural development.

The world is certainly watching India more closely to see how India responds as the US, China and Europe have made their initial announcements on the climate targets known, says head of Climate and Energy Greenpeace India Vinuta Gopal.

“Since India is the third largest emitter, even if that is a distant third, our position at Lima will be an indication of how much political momentum can be created to move the world towards a planet saving and fair deal.”

She adds that India will have to address the white elephant in the room – what it will do with its coal plans.

“It is in our strategic interests to both act and be seen to be taking climate change seriously. India is now claiming its place on the world stage, and the climate negotiations are a platform for India to display statesmanship and not merely stick to its old rhetoric of common but differentiated responsibility.”

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