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G-20 not a forum to negotiate climate change issues: India

A K Bhattacharya  |  Pittsburgh 

India today declared that the G-20 was not a forum for negotiating climate change issues, although it was aware that its leaders assembled here for the Summit were expected to convey a significant commitment to move away from the current pattern of economic activity through promotion of renewable and clean sources of energy.

In a press briefing here today, Shyam Saran, Special Envoy of the Indian Prime Minister, said India believed that the G-20 was not the forum for discussing either the extent of cuts to be enforced by countries on emission of greenhouse gases or the financing pattern for mitigating the adverse climate-related effects of the current pattern of economic activities.

“The sole negotiating forum for climate change is the United Nations Framework Convention for Climate Change (UNFCCC),” Saran said. Nevertheless, a strong political message from the G-20 leaders that they were committed to a comprehensive, balanced and equitable outcome at the Copenhagen summit on climate change to be held later this year would have a favourable impact on the negotiations, he said.

He also clarified that as far as India was concerned, it was not under any threat or demand from any country on enforcing an absolute cut in its gas emission levels. On the contrary, India’s stand that developing countries should not be expected to agree to absolute cuts in their gas emission levels had received endorsement from 37 countries including China and Brazil. India continued to stick to its earlier position that by 2020, the developed countries should agree to a 40 per cent reduction in their gas emission levels, assuming 1990 as the base year. At the same time, India stood by its commitment that its emission levels would not cross those of the developed countries, thereby putting on them the onus of determining an effective cap on emissions for all developing countries.

Saran expressed the hope that the would also acknowledge that the success in the ongoing multilateral negotiations on climate change required the mobilisation of new and additional financial resources to support both mitigation and adaptation action in developing countries. India was of the view that a special financing agency should be created within the ambit of UNFCC, which however could receive funding from multilateral financial institutions like the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. The funding requirement for such an initiative was estimated at anything between 0.5 and 1 per cent of the gross domestic product of the developed world.

India was also opposed to accepting any internationally binding norms for reduction in gas emissions in different industries, although it was open to accepting the norms for best practices in energy use in various sectors. Saran said India had already put in place various schemes to reduce emission levels, improve energy efficiency and promote use of renewable energy in different sectors. There were eight missions in place as part of India’s national action plan and Saran said he was not opposed to it becoming a standard for adoption by other developing countries at the Copenhagen meeting in December.

On the question of reducing government subsidies for fossil fuels, an issue raised by developed countries led by the US, Saran said the Indian government was in principle opposed to subsidies for fossil fuels. It believed that such subsidies should be phased out, although it recognised that these subsidies served a useful social purpose for the poor. But the government’s policy objective was to rationalise these subsidies and the government was moving in that direction, he said.

First Published: Sat, September 26 2009. 01:04 IST