India will be represented by Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar at the United Nations Secretary General (UNSG) Ban Ki-moon's summit on climate change in New York on September 23. In a move coordinated with China and other developing countries, the minister is expected to showcase India's achievements on the climate change in order to push the focus back on the developed countries to deliver more on their existing commitments.
In two rounds of meetings over the past month in Delhi and Beijing, the two countries and others had shared apprehensions about the summit subverting the on-going formal negotiations under the UN convention on climate change.
The formal UN negotiations which are to stitch a global deal by 2015 do not have a role for the UNSG, and in the past, too, his interventions in climate talks have not been taken well by several developing countries, including India.
An Indian climate negotiator told Business Standard, "The prime minister had pre-scheduled visit to the US, and the UN General Assembly and the summit's dates did not fit in. But we are apprehensive about the attempt at the UNSG summit to pre-judge the results of the formal climate negotiations. It was decided that all those countries that are ready are expected to present their nationally determined targets (on reducing emissions) by March 2015 for the Paris agreement."
He noted that the onus for more action on climate change in the pre-2020 period was on the developed countries, but most rich nations had avoided talking of it so far. "By asking for all countries to pledge at equal footing at the New York meeting, the summit is taking a shot at the firewall between developed countries and poor countries. This is not acceptable to us and many others," he added.
The UN climate convention requires developed countries with much greater historical responsibility to take the lead in fighting climate change and to provide resources to the poor countries to also act keeping their development priorities in mind. But the developed countries are keen to break this firewall in the 2015 agreement pointing to growing future emissions of countries such as India and China. The UNSG's summit, India believes, is another move that breaks the existing agreement that developing countries' actions should be predicated on the funding and technological support the rich nations provide.
"Countries such as India and China have already volunteered targets for emission reductions in 2010 and naturally we shall do more under the 2015 agreement, but the basic principles such as equity cannot be done away with when responsibility is shared," said the Indian negotiator.
Consequently India's environment minister is expected to use the platform make demands on the developed countries to come through on their commitments besides highlighting the initiatives taken by the NDA government in sectors like solar power and energy efficiency. The developed countries were required under existing agreements to up their commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the pre-2020 period, as well as inch closer to the target of $100 billion finance for the poor countries to fight climate change. Even the ratification process of the second phase of Kyoto Protocol has not been completed as yet.
Javadekar will also hold a series of bilateral meetings on climate change with other countries on the side of the visit to UN. Along with China and other countries that form the Like Minded Developing Countries group, India had decided to deepen its climate diplomacy links with other developing nations such as the Africa group.
The minister will also attend the high level summit of the Minamata Convention on September 24 at New York. He will sign on behalf of India to finally ratify the international agreement regulating the use of the chemical, Mercury. More than 100 countries have already ratified the convention since 2013, but India has held out so far coming in for some criticism.