Sabre-rattling over climate change negotiations has started, even before country delegations reach the Paris global conference in full force.
Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar countered an attack by US secretary of state John Kerry, saying, “His statement was untrue and uncalled for.” Kerry had said India was being overcautious towards the proposed new global climate regime that Paris was expected to put a stamp on.
A further war of words is expected in the run-up to the high-profile meet. As are back-door talks to stitch what is arguably one of the most complicated of multilateral economic agreements that 196 countries have ever attempted.
Kerry had in a statement to FT.Com said India was “a little more restrained in its embrace of this new paradigm, and it’s a challenge… We’ve got a lot of focus on India right now, to try to bring them along.” He was additionally quoted as saying India wanted to increase its dependence on domestic coal rather than import what he said was better quality coal, and this was not the right way.
Said a senior official Business Standard spoke to: “You have to break Kerry’s statement into two halves. One is about the Paris agreement and the other is looking to create a market for its coal in India. That, again, is a decision India would take based on relative trade-offs at different states of the developing economy.”
Javadekar said, “India is never a blocking country. It has done its fair share to tackle climate change. Mitigation will only happen if all work together. But, the developed world needs to (first) vacate climate space.”
Power Minister Piyush Goyal had earlier said the government would aggressively focus on renewable energy and energy efficiency but would also work to ensure energy security through deployment of a larger volume of coal-based power generation.
The US has been trying to get India to sign a joint statement on climate change, similar to the one it had with China. However, there are big differences on intellectual property rights, in cleaner technologies and on reducing related costs.
The US has also pushed hard to breach the firewall between the obligations of developed and developing countries as it presently exists in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, under which the Paris agreement is to be signed. It achieved a minor success with China at the bilateral level, with the latter already conveniently secure of the carbon space its powerhouse economy requires.
India would, by government estimates, require to quadruple the use of coal by 2030 to meet its energy needs.
On some salient features of the Paris agreement, India, China and the US do see eye to eye. For instance, on some fundamental concerns that impact the future space for economic growth. And, of course, the divergent views exist.