No substitute for UN talks on climate change

Published: Tuesday 15 July 2008

US representative on climate change James L. Connaughton met India's chief negotiator on climate change Shyam Saran ahead of the Major Economies Meeting (mem) in June and the G8 summit to persuade India to soften its stand on emission targets. Mario D'Souza talks to Saran about Delhi's response

US wants to turn national action plans on climate change into binding commitments to be included in an international treaty. Comments.

There is no question of turning our National Action Plan into an international commitment. International commitments will emerge from the ongoing multilateral negotiations on climate change. Our plan incorporates decisions that are within our sovereign domain. If these were to be international and legally binding commitments, then why are we negotiating a global understanding under the un Framework Convention on Climate Change (unfccc)? I conveyed as much to Mr. Connaughton.

The US wanted MEM to be the forum for discussing emission targets, not the G8 summit. How does India see the US stance?

Developed countries need to indicate their emission targets in the post-Kyoto phase commencing 2012 at the multilateral negotiating forum. This is one of the mandates of unfccc. Neither mem nor G8 can be the appropriate forum for such negotiations, though developed countries can indicate their actions at these forums.

What is India's response to the threat of tariffs and the pressure to accept international energy-efficiency standards?

India does not accept that action on climate change should be burdened with extraneous issues such as trade and investment. It would be a negative development if under the "green" label, countries engage in protectionist policies. This has been conveyed to Japan, the eu and the us. Our position is endorsed by G77 and China.

The MEM process, with its voluntary emission targets, undermines the UN process that sets mandatory targets for developed countries. Should India have entered into the MEM process?

We accepted the invitation to join deliberations in mem because we recognize that major economies, including India, do have a role to play in multilateral negotiations. Whether at mem or at unfccc, our position has been consistent, that is Annex I (developed) countries must assume ambitious reduction targets for the post-Kyoto period. mem is a deliberative and consultative forum, not a negotiating forum, and cannot be a substitute for unfccc talks.

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