Though environment minister Jayanthi Natarajan was hailed as a tough negotiator, the final Durban climate deal could at best be a mixed bag for India with European Union as the clear winner.
A reaction from Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) summed it up. Its former president Arun Bharat Ram expressed scepticism at an emission cut regime by 2020 but welcomed the second commitment period for Kyoto Protocol (2013-2017) and the Green Climate Fund to finance climate change actions of the developing world.
Natarajan till the last moment refused to binding emission cuts but agreed to avoid the tag of being a deal-breaker. The breakthrough came when the EU replaced the word 'binding' with 'forceable'.
The binding nature of the proposed treaty will be finalised by a new working group between 2012 and 2015, when the real climate battle will take place.
It will be interesting to watch how India plays its cards in the new working group considering its annual per capita emissions (of 1.7 tonnes) is even lower than some of the island nations such as Barbados, which sought binding emission commitments from India and China.The rich nations are seeking comparable emission cuts by India and China, two big carbon emitters, but whether India will buckle again is the big question.
The next four years will see India fight to embed equity in the new treaty to be finalised by 2015. “The concept of equity has faded at the Durban conference,” said Sanjay Vashist of Climate Action Network, South Asia.
The conference decided to hold a workshop on equity in 2012 but did not find any reference in the pact on new climate treaty. 'Fight for equity is ahead," said Chandra Bhushan of Centre for Science and Environment.