India’s stand on climate has been the same since 2004, Environment and Forest Minister Jairam Ramesh said in a statement on Tuesday.
His statement was a fallout of newspaper reports on his confidential note to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh saying that Ramesh suggested a nuanced shift in India’s position on climate change.
Congress sources said that the high command was upset with Ramesh for not consulting the party or the government on the issue. The Bharatiya Janata Party accused Ramesh of lobbying for the western world.
Environment ministers from South Asian countries on Tuesday reiterated their commitment to stick to the Kyoto Protocol and not agree to any mandatory cuts in greenhouse gas emissions. Greenhouse gases are those responsible for climate change.
Ramesh accused newspapers of quoting from the note partially and giving interpretations, leading to distortions and the meaning getting twisted.
The minister’s statement said some things were non-negotiable: maintaining distinctions between developed and developing countries as per the Kyoto Protocol, emission cuts being applicable for developed countries only, and India agreeing to the verification of its emission reduction actions only when those are supported by international finance.
“It is India’s position on climate change since 2004 and has not changed,” he told HT.
Ramesh, however, accepted that the note to the Prime Minister suggested that India’s stance could become flexible, keeping the non-negotiable component intact.
He had suggested an emission reduction law for different sectors, annual reporting to the UN instead of once in six years and a special mechanism to accommodate the US within the ambit of the Kyoto Protocol.
The US has not signed the Protocol.
A day before India signs an agreement with China on climate change on Wednesday, the environment ministers of South Asian countries agreed to make a joint statement on their stand at the Copenhagen conference in December.
“The National Action Plans on Climate Change of all SAARC countries will be presented in Copenhagen,” Ramesh said, in a show of solidarity among the eight countries of the South Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC).
A joint statement on behalf of the SAARC nations will be made by Sri Lanka in Copenhegan.
The statement is significant as Europe had offered funds to Bangladesh and Maldives (both SAARC countries) for adapting to the climate change programme if they sought emission cuts for advanced developing countries like China and India.
But, Maldives Environment Minister Mohammad Islam and his counterpart from Bangladesh, Hasan Mahmud, said they would abide by the differentiated responsibility doctrine under the Kyoto Protocol.
Addressing military commanders, Manmohan Singh said: “There are concerted attempts by the developed countries to impose new obligations on developing countries to limit emission of greenhouse gases. This could impact our economic development.”