India’s team of negotiators for the United Nations (UN) Climate Change conference in Paris comprises officials drawn in from multiple ministries and experts from the prime minister’s council on climate change. Environment and forests minister Prakash Javadekar is leading the delegation.
Monday, the first official day of the conference, is likely to be dominated by a meeting of the heads of states, expected to set the mood for real negotiations. Prime Minister Narendra Modi would be accompanied by Power Minister Piyush Goyal. Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar will also be there. The negotiations started on Sunday, a day ahead of schedule.
Climate change, negotiations spill into many rooms and corners, with parallel meetings and, sometimes, ones that continue throughout the night. These require expertise in issues as far ranging as economics, international law, agriculture and climate science to tackle the various elements of the talks. More than specialisation in the subjects, the talks require a deep understanding of the jargon-rich documents from years of decisions and agreements under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change signed in 1992. The legal implications of the jargon and how it is deployed is usually best understood by veteran negotiators. Countries such as the US bring large delegations of experienced negotiators. India has suffered previously, especially from having small teams at the talks.
This time around, the lead negotiator for India would be a joint secretary in the environment ministry, Ravi Shankar Prasad, who has led the talks for the country for successive years. He was one of the first to reach Paris before the formal negotiations started. The ministry’s secretary, Ashok Lavasa, and additional secretary Susheel Kumar would also be in Paris and so would Joint Secretary Sanjiv Kumar, in-charge of events beyond the negotiations that India is organising at the venue in Paris.
From the external affairs ministry, Secretary Sujata Mehta would be present with two senior officials from the section that looks after economic negotiations at the UN — joint secretary Puneet Agarwal and Director Adarsh Swaika. The latter has been also negotiating for India for a while now. They will be accompanied by Sudhakar Reddy, who looks after international laws and treaties. Amit Narang, counsellor at India’s permanent mission to the UN, is also expected to come to Paris as he has dealt with negotiations on both climate change and sustainable development goals at the UN.
The government has also sent two members of the Prime Minister’s council on climate change, who have for several years dealt with negotiations and held posts in the UN climate convention or its bodies. Ajay Mathur, director-general of Bureau of Energy Efficiency, is one of them. He has headed the UN’s Green Climate Fund and negotiated on issues of technology. He will also be the key spokesperson for India at Paris.
The second senior negotiator and PM council member in Paris would be J M Mauskar. The retired IAS officer has negotiated for India at climate talks for almost a decade. He was elected as one of the first UN co-chairs of the climate negotiations that led especially to the Paris agreement. Mauskar brings insider’s knowledge to the Indian team. They will be assisted by India’s ambassador to France Mohan Kumar and his team.
To tackle the critical issue of finance, Rajasree Ray, a deputy economic advisor in the finance ministry, will be sent. Ray has been central to India’s climate negotiations for several years and specialises in the subject. A director-rank official from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), Santosh Vaidya, would be at the talks through the entire duration. He looks after environment and climate change issues at the PMO.
Anju Bhalla, joint secretary in the power ministry, has been deputed with an advisor from the ministry of earth sciences, K J Ramesh, and an official from the ministry of new and renewable energy, P C Maithani. The environment ministry will also send Debashish Prusty, director, with three officials — S Satapathy, V R S Rawat and J R Bhat. The minister’s personal secretary, Vinay Srivastava, would be there.
The government has also sent in a separate delegation to manage the pavilion it has put up — a first time for such a climate conference — and select consultants will work with the environment ministry to assist.
However, the government is not planning to take Opposition members of Parliament this time, unlike for the 2009 Copenhagen meeting.
ON THE SIDELINES
Should fight climate change together: PM
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday said it was the responsibility of all to ensure that the Earth’s temperature does not rise as global warming was already creating disasters like recent heavy rainfall in Chennai. In his monthly radio programme ‘Mann Ki Baat,’ Modi asked people to adopt energy conservation and energy efficiency measures like the maximum use of solar-powered items. “The whole world is worried about climate change. It is the responsibility and concern of all.”
‘Lead by example’
India on Sunday said developed nations must “lead by example” and walk the talk on cuts in carbon emissions and hoped for a “just and equitable” agreement. Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar, who arrived in Paris and reviewed the India pavilion, said the developed world was responsible for more than 70 per cent of carbon emissions and a historical responsibility cannot be “wished away.”
Renewable purchase obligation target
The government is looking at increasing renewable energy purchase obligation targets from three per cent to 10 per cent to meet the 100,000 megawatts (Mw) solar capacity by 2022. “If we have to achieve the target of 100,000 Mw of green power, we will have to increase the RPO targets to 8-10 per cent by 2022,” ministry of new and renewable energy joint secretary Tarun Kapoor said.
Need genuine climate change financing: Das
A day ahead of the crucial climate conference in Paris, economic affairs secretary Shaktikanta Das on Sunday pitched for “genuine provision” of climate change finance from developed to developing countries and not “clever accounting”. Das said clean technology was important and not unreasonable standards, which created markets for developed countries and escalated growth costs for others.