India has entered the debate on legally binding climate treaty with a set of questions but with a firm no to accepting any emission cuts.
Environment minister Jayanthi Natarajan is willing to discuss the issue provided rich nations accept India's concerns on equity, commitment for finance and technology, intellectual property rights issues and unilateral carbon tax imposed on aviation sector.
She also wants to know the nature of legally binding climate treaty, which has hogged the limelight and stalled progress at the 10 days of the climate conference of 195 nations at the port city of South Africa.
"I have come to Durban with an open mind," she replied when asked about India's stand on legally binding climate treaty at her first interaction with journalists. "But I would like to know whether it (legally binding treaty) would be binding only for mitigation and whether it will be same for Annex-1 and non-Annex1 countries."
With it, she re-affirmed India's stand, which was laid down by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh with his recent meeting with US president Barack Obama. "We cannot take any legally binding emission cuts at this stage of our development," Singh had said.
At the time when there is pressure on India from rich and least developed nations to accept legally binding treaty, Natarajan said, at this time of "our development we need to keep the imperatives of a developing country" in mind and need to grow economically.
Throwing the ball in the court of rich nations on behalf of the developing world, Natarajan wanted to know how the ratification process of Kyoto Protocol would be resolved, if there is agreement on a legally binding treaty. The debate over extending Kyoto Protocol for second commitment period beyong 2012 is stuck, a concern for India.
She also wanted to know whether the legally binding nature will mean commitment of rich nations on finance and technology. "What will happen to equity?" she asked.
Non-government organisation Centre For Science and Environment said that equity has to be central to any climate agreement as the developed world continue to be the biggest polluter. "India's total emissions increased by 1.5 billion tonnes as compared to two tonnes for United States," said Sunita Narian, CSE director-general.
India's bid to get back issues left out of the Cancun agreement such as equity and historical responsibility of the rich nations to reduce emissions have been backed by several nations except Europe.