India’s efforts to get other countries to back its stand on resisting binding carbon emission cuts suffered a setback this week after it failed to persuade 14 Pacific island nations with promises of development projects.
At a summit in Jaipur, the island countries insisted that a climate pact to be signed in Paris this year should be legally binding with emerging economies like India and China taking emission cuts despite Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking their support to ensure a “balanced” and “fair” treaty.
“The Pacific nations were willing to discuss all climate issues including legally binding nature of the proposed climate agreement,” Anil Wadhwa, secretary east in the external affairs ministry, said after the end of the second Forum for India-Pacific Island Cooperation.
India opposed the binding nature of the proposed treaty to be implemented from 2020 and repeatedly said only rich countries are required under the UN climate convention to reduce carbon emissions.
External affairs ministry officials, however, said climate change was an emotive issue for the Pacific island nations and any change in the stand could have local political implications.
The island nations have pinned their hopes to the success of the Paris talks as rising sea levels threaten their very existence.
Environment minister Prakash Javadekar, who reportedly discussed climate issues with Modi on Saturday, is expected to address a press conference next week on India’s roadmap to curb carbon emissions as most states have already submitted their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs), or pledges on climate change, to the ministry which is examining them.
China is the world’s biggest carbon emitter while India is fourth with per capita emissions one-third of China’s.
US President Barack Obama and Modi failed to strike a climate deal this year along the lines of a US-China agreement on emission cuts because of New Delhi’s resistance to accept a peak year for emissions which could have bracketed it with Beijing on the issue.
India and China issued a joint statement during Modi’s visit to the neighbouring country in May, asking wealthy nations to provide finance, technology and other necessary support to emerging economies to help reduce their own emissions.