With the climate negotiations at Cancun moving into a decisive phase, India on Thursday, defined environment minister Jairam Ramesh's bold statement that all countries must accept binding commitments under an appropriate legal form.
Two conditions were prescribed on what the commitment means. First, the form of commitment of the developing countries should be less stringent than that of the developed world. It goes with India's negotiating line that the rich countries are historically responsible for emitting green house gases and therefore, their responsibility to reduce emissions is much higher.
In the second condition, India made it clear that the commitment for the developing world would be voluntary mitigation actions it has announced, whereas that for the developed world it would be emission reduction targets. With it, India accepted that its voluntary reduction target that is 20-25 percent reduction of its emission intensity per unit of the GDP by 2020 will be binding for it.
On the contentious issue of transparency in meeting mitigation actions, India has clearly differenciated between measurement, review and verification (MRV) and international consultation and analysis (ICA). While the former will apply only to the developed country, ICA should be appliable for voluntary mitigation actions of the developing countries and should be embedded in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the body that governs global climate treaty.
Ramesh was of the view that his stand was within the mandate given to him by the Union Cabinet and was aimed at providing flexibility to India's negotiating space.
Despite Ramesh's bid to give a decisive push to Cancun climate talks by accepting binding commitment, consensus eluded the negotiators from 194 nations on key issues of mitigation, finance and technolgy indicating that the conference may deliver a weak declaration at the end.
For the second consecutive day, the officials deliberated on a text till late in the night but failed to reach an agreement, in what is now been seen as return of Copenhagen ghost in Cancun. President of the conference Mexican minister Patricia Espinosa called upon the countries not to repeat the Copehagen failure and come out with a strong deal.
The negotiators in the small group of 50 were deliberating on the fine print of 10-page Cancun declaration but officials said there were differences over a wide range of issues such as shared vision for long term combat against climate change and the peaking year for emissions.
India made it clear that that it will prefer maximum of two degree celsius increase in temperature rise by 2050 but kept its options open for accepting 1.5 degree option. However, India ruled out any possbility of accepting a peaking year for emissions saying that the developing world should have an equitable access for sustained development. "We cannot accept peaking with over 30 Indians still below the poverty line," an official said.