Brickbats at home and accolades abroad. This is what Indian environment minister Jairam Ramesh has earned from his bold decision to alter country climate policy and accept legally binding commitment.
“All countries must agree to a legally binding commitment under an appropriate legal form,” Ramesh said as he surprised his own negotiators at the 16th global climate summit on Wednesday.
Ramesh received first applause from the the Association of Small Island Nations, a group of 43 nations, which had been asking for legally binding commitments for all nations to reduce emissions in a bid to keep global temperature within two degree Celsius.
The island nations with European Union had floated a proposal aimed at forcing India and China to accept binding commitments stating that there should be a single legally binding agreement, which can have some elements of the Kyoto Protocol.
The one-page text was for consideration of the 16th Conference of Parties indirectly suggested junking of the protocol as the European Commissioner Connie Hedegaard had expressed willingness to give conditional support for its extenson.
Ramesh's statement aimed at ending the logjam and turn India into a deal-maker had helped in wider acceptance of the proposal of island nations.
The Europeans have also welcomed India's new stand and expressed hope that China will follow suit. United States for the long had been seeking a single binding agreement for all countries.
A day after the Ramesh's statement most countries agreed to have legally binding commitments as part of the Cancun Declaration, expected to be announced on Friday night.
Back home, Ramesh, who is being considered as a deal maker in Cancun, had earned the opposition's ire. Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi has written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh asking the Centre to consult the chief ministers before altering India's climate change policy.
Accusing Ramesh of altering the policy at will, the BJP leader Modi said 70 percent of mitigation and adaptation work is done at the state government level and not including them in the consultation process for the policy change will be against India's federal governance system.