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India stands with developing world at climate summit

By Joydeep Gupta, IANS,

Copenhagen : India Wednesday placed itself firmly on the side of the developing world as Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh said the country’s approach to the Dec 7-18 climate summit “is anchored in the sanctity of the troika – the UNFCCC, the Kyoto Protocol and the Bali Action Plan”.

Speaking at the “high level segment” of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) conference, Ramesh said: “The well-known and widely accepted principles of (i) common but differentiated responsibility; and (ii) historical responsibilities are sacrosanct as far as we are concerned.”

His statement reassured many delegates from other developing countries, who in private had been expressing the fear that India may break ranks with them, now that it was an emerging economy.

Developed countries want to bury the Kyoto Protocol – the current global treaty to tackle climate change – and many aspects of the Bali Action Plan finalised two years back.

Distancing himself from this position, Ramesh said: “As a global goal, India subscribes to the view that the temperature increase ought not to exceed two degrees Celsius by 2050. But this objective must be firmly embedded in a demonstrably equitable access to atmospheric space, with adequate finance and technology available to all developing countries.”

Equitable access to atmospheric space is a concept that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh proposed in 2007. Ramesh echoed another of the prime minister’s promises when he said: “Our per capita emissions will never exceed the per capita emissions of developed countries.”

Pointing out that “India is already and will be even more profoundly impacted by climate change and in many ways, we have the highest vulnerability on multiple dimensions”, the environment minister said: “We have a tremendous obligation to our own people by way of both adaptation and mitigation policies and programmes”.

He listed the steps taken by India to tackle climate change – the eight national missions and the target of a “further emissions intensity decline of 20-25 percent by 2020 on 2005 levels”.

Ramesh said India was “considering nationally accountable mitigation outcomes in different sectors like industry, energy, transport, building and forests”.