India played an “exceedingly helpful role” in the last climate summit and “we expect the same this year and beyond”, UN climate chief Christiana Figueres said here on Saturday.
“India represented its own interests and stood firm with other developing countries, and then was incredibly helpful in showing that it’s mostly in the interest of developing countries to move forward” to combat global warming, said Figueres, executive secretary to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
Speaking to a small group of reporters on the sidelines of the Feb 3-5 Delhi Sustainable Development Summit organised by The Energy and Resources Institute, Figueres praised India for having “brought forward new concepts to bridge the North-South divide”.
The climate changes are already affecting farm output, making droughts, floods and storms more frequent and more intense, and also raising the sea level.
The UNFCCC head from Costa Rica gave examples.
“India’s concept that all countries need equitable access to sustainable development was a very good contribution,” she said. “So was the idea of international consultation and analysis (of actions by developing countries and aid by the developed nations). Minister (Jairam) Ramesh was incredibly helpful in putting down a 10-point concept note on this.”
Ramesh has been criticized by some NGOs and former members of the Indian negotiating team for moving away from the country’s earlier position that instead of asking the developing countries to do anything, industrialized countries must do much more to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases they release into the atmosphere.
With rich countries led by the US opposing this view, global climate negotiations have been stuck for many years.
The world is now looking at a scenario where the Kyoto Protocol -- the only global deal that obliges rich countries to reduce emissions -- may be lamed after 2012 because many industrialized nations are refusing to commit to such reductions after that.
Figueres said that while the world had to “resolve what we are going to do with the Kyoto Protocol, I hope India takes leadership in ensuring enhanced (emission reduction) commitments” from developed countries.
As for the developing countries including India, tFigueres said “they are doing it in their own interest because their first responsibility is poverty eradication, and they can use the international mechanisms from the Cancun agreement for their national programmes.” Cancun, in Mexico, hosted the last climate summit.
On the agreement itself, the UN climate chief described it as “very important for the community of nations, but a very small step for the planet. It’s the largest and most far-reaching effort ever for emission reductions and probably the most comprehensive package to support developing countries” to move towards a greener economy.
As examples of what the Cancun Agreement had achieved, Figueres referred to the setting up of the Green Climate Fund, under which rich countries are supposed to provide $100 billion from 2020 to combat global warming.
She also referred to the setting up of a mechanism to share green technologies, a process India has coordinated for years.
But she agreed that the emission reduction commitments from all countries would only go 60 percent of the way to restrict global temperature rise to two degrees Celsius, a key goal of the agreement.
“We expect industrialized countries to take on deeper (emission) cuts,” she said.