With the Parliament debate on foreign direct investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail keeping the government on its toes, Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan will give the global climate talks at Doha a miss. The minister is likely to stay in India to defuse the tension in Parliament over the crucial vote on FDI than participate in the debate over global warming.
According to sources, Natarajan is unlikely to lead the Indian delegation at the climate talks. The minister could not be contacted even after repeated attempts. Her office said she was in Chennai today.
The secretary (Ministry of Environment and Forest) is also not attending the climate change talks. According to a ministry official, “The previous secretary had retired last month and the person who had the additional charge as secretary is not going to Doha.” The absence of Natarajan from the Doha meet could weaken India's ability to debate at the global negotiating table.
Natarajan — who during her tenure has attended two major climate talks, the 17 th Conference of Parties in Durban and the Rio Earth Summit in Brazil — had been a strong voice representing India as well as developed nations.
At both the Durban Climate Change Conference 2011 and the Earth Summit in Rio earlier this year, Natarajan, amid global pressure, held her ground, making certain India’s development agenda wasn’t jeopardised, even if it meant being labelled a “deal breaker” by some of developed countries.
In fact, it was the strong stand taken by India at the Durban climate talks that forced negotiators to include the word “equity”, or equitable growth, into the agenda for all future talks. “In the earlier talks, she pitched for India’s right for growth and didn’t succumb to any pressure for accepting emission cuts. India will miss a strong negotiator at Doha, when the crucial issue of climate financing and second commitment period of Kyoto Protocol is debated,” a representative from a non-for-profit organisation attending the Doha talks said. He added having a minister definitely helps in taking certain decisions which can not be taken at the official level.
At the Earth Summit, too, India recorded a major victory when the concept of “common but differential responsibility” between developed and developing nations was acknowledged.
This meant rich, developed nations could not shift their responsibility to take steps to mitigate climate change to developing countries like India.
Natarajan was also scheduled to chair a side event organised by the Centre for Science and Environment on equity in the ADP (The Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action) negotiations on December 5. CSE confirmed the minister is not attending the same.
The Doha round of talks will hold an informal ministerial round table on December 5, which is when the ministers of all parties are expected to join the dialogue.