India endorsing below 2 degree temp goal

Recently there are various versions / interpretations of India’s role in ongoing/upcoming Climate Change negotiations and most of Civil Societies have been trying to get out an endorsement on below 2 degree C temperature goal from India. So far India has not officially endorsed the EU position on stabilising the global temperature rise below 2 degree and its endorsements during US led Major Economies Forum has been seen as success by International community.

This also reflects that India is keen to play an active role in addressing the global problem on climate change as long as its conditions of deeper cuts by developed countries; financial and technological resources are met. These pre-conditions will open response from Indian Government and will help civil societies to continue its pressure on government to respond.

Now the ball is in the court of countries like US, Japan, Canada and Australia. EU to continue playing its leadership role !

Please refer below the news covered on 2 degree by Indian Media…

Nitin Sethi, TNN 12 July 2009, 12:33am IST

NEW DELHI: Has India blinked in the climate change negotiations? This seems to be the case as at the Major Economies Forum meeting in Italy, India has gone back on some of its key principles — like a refusal to accept emission caps — that it held to be non-negotiable till just before the G-8 meet in Italy.
In the course of some tough negotiations, India appears to have bent a bit in the face of pressure from industrialized countries, and the biggest compromise at the MEF was to accept that all countries would work to reduce emissions in order to not let global temperatures rise more than 2 degrees above pre-industrialisation levels.

When this declaration, signed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, is turned into targets for different countries, this may imply substantial emission reduction targets for India even if rich countries take a hefty 80% cut in their own emissions by 2050. While an 80% cut is the most ambitious target ever considered for the developed world, India and China would still be faced with large cutbacks.

Till date India has insisted that the science behind 2 degree target has been questioned even by the UN climate science panel. It has demanded that unless rich nations put figures on the table about what sort of reductions they were willing to accept collectively by 2020, and then again by 2050, India would not agree to any commitments for the long term which the 2 degree agreement places on them.

This acceptance in the MEF declaration, several Indian observers told TOI, would bind India’s hands as it goes into talks at the formal UN negotiations. India for the first time has officially agreed that there is a global target and it may now, in due course, spell out what it will take to reach it. Now the global target of emission cuts instead of equity would become the overarching argument in the negotiations, an observer explained.

Another clear giveaway by India, observers point to, was agreeing to put their entire set of their climate activities up for international scrutiny. Till date India has stated that only those actions that are backed by measureable, reportable and verifiable funds and technologies from rich nations would be up for international scrutiny.

„If they don’t pay for it why should we allow them to act like big brother and watch over our spending from our own funds,“ is how an official explained the position earlier calling it an issue of sovereignty.

India has also agreed to the idea that it would take actions that would bring its emissions down from business-as-usual in the mid-term (read by 2030). Till date India has claimed, and its own as well as World Bank studies have shown, that even on business-as-usual lines, India’s per capita emissions in 2030 remain far below those of rich nations at present. Till date, India claims it has no reason to take further actions if it is already on a low carbon pathway.

But, observers noted, that the mention of using per capita emissions based calculations as the basis of dividing responsibilities found no mention in the MEF declaration that the Indian Prime Minister signed on. The word equity which India has always embedded in its arguments also found a weak mention in passing.

On the issue of providing finances and technologies too, India gave away more than it got in bargain, observers noticed. Till date, India claimed and the Bali Action Plan laid out that developing countries would reduce their emissions only if they were enabled by tech and fund transfer.

This has been watered down in the MEF statement and now such actions would only be `supported‘. „The word `enabled‘ meant that actions would only be taken when the money was on the table, `supported‘ implies we would take actions and the money and funds would come at a later date; the trigger value has been lost,“ explained one expert.

Till the last meeting of the MEF at Mexico, all these issues had been non-negotiable items on the table from India. So much so, that the negotiations for the MEF statement ended in a stalemate with India being one of the main countries opposing any text it considered inimical to its interests. It was decided to stretch the backroom negotiations to Italy, days before the heads of states signed on a statement. Between the Mexico meeting last month and the one in Italy, the Indian government has shifted its goalposts, it is evident now.

While the MEF statement is not binding on the UN negotiations, it holds huge political value as it has been agreed to by some of the most powerful countries around the table.

Even if one assumes some of these were bargaining chips for India to use at the formal climate negotiations, handing over those trump cards so early in the game does not make sense, another observer told TOI.

The final rounds of negotiations are to be held in December in Copenhagen but India’s space to negotiate would be significantly reduced by the MEF statement even as the real negotiations on the proposed legal text in the UN meet begin in Bonn next month.



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