India firm on its position at Bali: top official

By Joydeep Gupta, IANS

Bali : India is firm on its position that industrialised countries should fulfil the commitments they had made under the Kyoto Protocol and there should be quick progress on concluding negotiations for greenhouse gas emissions reductions by these countries in a post-Kyoto world, a senior member of the Indian government delegation said here Saturday. The position received support from a top UN official.

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Chandrashekhar Dasgupta, former ambassador and currently fellow at The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), told IANS that India had already made its position clear at the last UN conference on climate change a year ago and had told the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) what it had already done to mitigate emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) that are leading to global warming.

At the Dec 3-14 conference going on here and being attended by over 10,000 delegates from 187 countries, India has been criticised by international NGOs in public and delegates from many countries in private for keeping quiet on what it had done and what it planned to do to reduce GHG emissions.

Responding to this, Dasgupta said: “Our position is not new and we have been reiterating it at informal consultations here.”

In closed-door meetings Saturday, Canada and Japan were reported to have reiterated their position that major developing countries such as China, India, Brazil and South Africa should make legally binding commitments to cap their GHG emissions before they would agree to do the same in a post-2012 world.

In response, UNFCCC Executive Secretary Yvo de Boer said: “Take the case of India. To ask a country where 400 million people do not have electricity to cut GHG emissions does not make sense. I don’t think developing countries should take on legal commitments.”

Asked to state India’s official position for public record, Dasgupta said: “At Bali we should agree on a plan of action for enhanced implementation of the commitments of countries under the Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol.”

The legally binding commitments to cap and reduce GHG emissions are from industrialised countries, while developing countries are committed to keep their GHG emissions as low as they could without affecting their development process in any way and as long as the incremental cost of reducing GHG emissions was borne by industrialised countries.

Dasgupta said: “There should be early progress towards determination of emissions reduction commitments of Annex I (industrialised) countries under the Kyoto Protocol. The first commitment period ends 2012.

“It is therefore essential to conclude negotiations for emissions reductions for the second commitment period.

“All countries, developed and developing, should further implement their commitments under two existing arrangements – the Framework Convention and the Kyoto Protocol – in accordance with the principle of common but differentiated responsibility and their respective capabilities.”

The principle of common but differentiated responsibility had been hammered out under the Kyoto Protocol when developing countries pointed out that industrialised countries were responsible for almost all the GHG in the atmosphere, while they (developing countries) bore the brunt of the effects of climate change.

“Developing countries are most vulnerable to climate change because they lack the resources and technology to build infrastructure in order to deal with climate change,” Dasgupta said. “The only solution is accelerated development that will generate the resources necessary.

“Anything that diverts resources from the overriding objective of development is a flawed response to climate change.”

In support of the Indian government’s position, Dasgupta quoted paragraphs 1, 2, 3 and 7 from Article 4 of the Framework Convention.

Paragraph 1 says all countries, “taking into account their common but differentiated responsibilities and their specific national and regional development priorities”, will inform about their emissions and sinks of GHG, publish their programmes to address climate change, cooperate to reduce climate change, promote sustainable management of GHG sinks, cooperate in preparing to adapt to climate change, take this issue into account in their policies to the extent feasible, promote and cooperate in scientific and technological ways and in education and raising public awareness about the issue.

Paragraph 2 is the one about industrialised countries making legally binding commitments on GHG emissions.

Dasgupta pointed out that paragraph 3 says industrialised countries will “provide new and additional financial resources to meet the agreed full costs incurred by developing country Parties in complying with their obligations. They shall also provide such financial resources, including for the transfer of technology, needed by the developing country Parties to meet the agreed full incremental costs of implementing (GHG emission limitation) measures.

“The implementation of these commitments shall take into account the need for adequacy and predictability in the flow of funds and the importance of appropriate burden sharing among the developed country Parties.”

The former diplomat also referred to paragraph 7, which says: “The extent to which developing country Parties will effectively implement their commitments under the Convention will depend on the effective implementation by developed country Parties of their commitments under the Convention related to financial resources and transfer of technology and will take fully into account that economic and social development and poverty eradication are the first and overriding priorities of the developing country Parties.”

Dasgupta said the Kyoto Protocol followed the same pattern.