India’s statement on equity

Published: Monday 10 June 2013

We have stressed the importance of the developed country Parties meeting their commitments under the Convention in the pre-2020 period to bridge the ambition gap. If they do not meet their commitments in the pre–2020 period, then equity in the post–2020 period will be seriously affected.

When we have science indicating to us where we should reach, it is inevitable that the principles of the Convention should apply. We reject any notion that ambition levels in the post–2015 period should be decided solely on whether a country has financial resources or not – in other words, it should not be decided solely on respective capabilities.

bonn climate change

The future we are discussing today has to be based on equity applied to science.

Otherwise, it will result in merely transferring the commitment of developed countries to developing countries in the post–2020 period. This is unacceptable.

Equity was an important element of the decision on Durban Platform.

Equity is a concept that has both ethical as well as scientific attributes in the context of climate change.

Article 3.1 of the Convention talks of equity. It enjoins all parties to protect the climate system on the basis of equity. The term itself is not defined in the Convention.

But, there are practical examples in the Convention, of how equity can be achieved:–

  • The preamble of the Convention talks of the largest share of emissions originating in developed countries or the principle of historical responsibilities as we know;
  • It talks further of the share of global emissions originating in developing countries rising to meet their social and development needs;
  • Art 3.4 admits that ‘economic development is essential for adopting measures to address climate change’;
  • It says that the developed countries will to take the lead in combating climate change;
  • Last, but not the least, differentiated commitments are recognized under Article 4 as manifestations of Equity.

Equity is therefore a cornerstone of the Convention. It should continue to be the cornerstone for the post–2020 period.

The notion that since the post 2020 arrangements are to apply to all parties, the principle of equity and CBDR no longer apply to the parties or that it be dynamically applied according to respective capabilities only is incorrect. This simply does not stand to reason. Convention without Equity would be a contradiction in terms. Equity will not be served by an agreement based only on respective capabilities.

There is another impression going around that Equity is an impediment to raising or reaching higher ambition for mitigation. Often our call for respect for Equity in negotiations is seen as our hesitation to act. We would like to emphatically dispel this notion. As we see it, Equity is not an impediment to ambition; in fact, it is a key enabler to action by all parties.

Equity would be achieved if it respects the Right to Development and the imperative of poverty eradication of developing countries. The Right to Development is a key element of what Equity seeks to articulate. We are conscious, however, that it is not a right to pollute. But it is a legitimate right that ensures sustainable development and survival for the millions in developing countries who are most vulnerable to Climate Change. As our Prime Minister Indira Gandhi stated in 1972 in the Stockholm Conference, poverty is the greatest polluter.

Equity is also not just linked to mitigation. It permeates all aspects of elements under negotiation. Aspects such as finance, technology transfer, adaptation etc all need to be infused with Equity.

Enhanced action should be based on CBDR and Equity applied to science. In other words, equity is an integral part of the post–2020 period and we need to incorporate this into the new post–2020 period arrangements.

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