India says the Durban climate agreement does not mean mandatory emission cuts beyond 2020, but other countries including its allies China and South held different views.
A decision to finalise climate treaty by 2015 having "legal force" to be ratified by all nations from 2020 was taken at Durban on Sunday. India proposed "agreed outcome with legal force" to end the logjam, which was accepted by all.
"I must clarify that this decision does not imply that India has to take binding commitments to reduce its emissions in absolute terms in 2020," Environment minister Jayanathi Natarajan told Lok Sabha on Friday.
European Union courted success saying the agreement "brings all countries into a common and truly global legal regime to curb emissions" and was backed by United States. China, which agreed to emission cuts beyond 2020, said Durban agreement will mean emission reductions but its exact nature is yet to be decided.
What had given India scope to interpret the Durban climate agreement differently is vagueness of the language used. The Durban Platform for Enhanced Action talks about "highest possible mitigation efforts by all parties" and nowhere mentions emission reduction or cuts.
Natarajan said India has already announced a domestic mitigation goal of reducing emission intensity of its output by 20-25 percent by 2020 in comparison with 2005 levels. "This goal is relative in nature and allows India's emissions to grow," she said, without referring to India's position on emission cuts beyond 2020.
Terming earning second commitment period for Kyoto Protocol as major achievement, the minister assured that the principles of "equity" and "common but differentiated responsibility" (CBDR) would be enshrined in the new climate treaty.
"India ensured that the new arrangements in 2020 are established under the Convention," she said, after reports claimed that India has allowed dilution of the two principles on which it negotiated in Durban.