War within government on climate change

  • Chetan Chauhan, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Nov 07, 2014 18:57 IST

A day after G-20 sherpa Suresh Prabhu said that India should not align with China on climate issues, the government distanced itself from his view with environment minister Prakash Javadekar saying it was his “personal” opinion.

Prabhu comments had led to speculation that India may break away from the Basic group that has India and China with South Africa and Brazil. Javadekar refused to either confirm or deny reiterating that what Prabhu said was his personal view.

Moving away from China can help India in isolating itself from taking emission mitigation cuts, which appears to be eminent for China. With 22% of Indians poor as against less than 10% for China, India may also get more financial aid from the rich nations to fight climate change.

The Basic group was formed at the Copenhagen climate conference to provide emerging economies a separate identity in the global climate geo-politics and put forth their view point which was different from that of other developing countries. Despite the new group, India and China remained integral part of G-77 plus China, a powerful block of countries in the climate talks.

However, the government’s decision to insist on inclusion of climate change in G-20 agenda despite resistance by China has led to the view that India would be bringing a dramatic change in its climate change before the Lima climate summit later this month.

“Standing with China does not help India,” Prabhu had said. He also added that India should have a more open climate stand for the talks that is expected to conclude in Paris in 2015 with an agreement on a new climate deal to be effective from 2020 onwards.

Javadekar on Friday said India has not finalised its stand for the Lima climate talks and it would be done in the next two weeks after series of consultations and scientific presentations.

However, government sources said the Prime Minister’s Office was readying the text on India’s climate stand and first glimpse of it will be visible at the G-20 summit in Australia in which Prime Minister Narendra Modi would be participating.

“The tricky issue of climate change cannot be dealt without being discussion at the highest geo-political platforms. One should not forget that climate change is closely linked with economy and therefore, it should be discussed at G-20,” a senior government official said.

Although PM Modi did not attend the United Nations Climate Summit in September, he was keen on discussing climate change at G-20. Prabhu had also played an important role on India insisting on inclusion of global warming as an agenda for discussion.

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