Delhi is confident it emerged from the recent G-8 summit with the nation’s climate change interests intact. India led a successful charge against three demands by the developed nations. India made one major concession, accepting that global average temperatures “ought not to exceed 2º Celsius,” largely because other developing nations conceded the point.
A sign of success: China’s climate change minister Xie Zhenhua thanked Indian team.
The climate change battle at the G-8’s major economies forum saw India align with China, Brazil, Indonesia and South Africa against the West.
First, the rich countries wanted developing countries to accept a global target of halving carbon emissions by 2050. The rich would cut their emissions by 80 per cent. The poor would do the rest.
This meant the rich would slash emissions from the 1990 base of 18.4 billion tonnes to 7.4 billion tonnes. The poor would cut theirs from 22.6 billion to 15.3 billion. But since the latter had faster growing and larger populations, per capita they would have to cut emissions, is a staggering 60 per cent.
Second, India insisted the declaration say “social and economic development and poverty eradication” are “the... overriding priorities” of the poor.
Third, the developed world argued poor countries should fix the amount they would reduce the rate of emissions growth. The rich wanted a 15 to 30 per cent cut.
The developing countries only conceded such cuts would be “meaningful” and tied them to financial and technological aid.
The last battle was the 2º Celsius issue. India opposed it, but the other four developing countries felt some sop had to be given to the West.
India then ensured ambiguous wording. The statement only speaks of “the scientific view” such an increase “ought not to exceed 2º C” and that all countries would “work together” to “identify a global goal.”
Climate change special envoy Shyam Saran later informed Delhi the compromise “was the lesser evil” compared to halving emissions.