The US has hailed India's "constructive role" at the UN climate change conference in Cancun and says Washington will not make legally binding commitments until countries like India and China do so.
"It's not so much that we're calling on China or India to make legally binding commitments right now," special US envoy on climate change, Todd Stern, who led the US delegation at the Cancun meet told reporters on Tuesday.
"What we're saying is we will do legally binding commitments only if they are symmetrical, if the emerging market countries do that also. If they're not ready to do it, it's not so much that we're criticising that," he said.
The US position on China is that it needs to make significant reductions in its emissions. "But for China or other developing countries, at this stage those are going to be relative reductions. Those are going to be reductions against the so-called business-as-usual path that they would be on," Stern said.
Asked about India's role at Cancun, Mexico, he said New Delhi played a "constructive role" to bring solutions to difficult issues while remaining "faithful" to its own national interests. "I think India played a particularly constructive role in Cancun," Stern said.
"I think that India was very much faithful to its own national interests and faithful to its role in the G-77, but at the same time creatively looking for solutions to difficult issues in the negotiation in a way that could bring in both, developing and developed nations.
"India really played a particularly constructive role in trying to find solutions that would bring everybody to the table. And one good example of that is on the issue of transparency, which was very important," he said.
"It's important for all countries to have confidence in each other that the pledges are actually being carried out and implemented and so forth.
"...The ultimate language wasn't exactly what India suggested, but it was really quite important that India did that," he added.
Stern also suggested that a legally binding accord to combat climate change isn't likely soon, though nations can take steps to curb global greenhouse-gas emissions.
"The day will come in the future when countries can come together in a legal format," he said. "You can get an awful lot done on the way" to an agreement "and that's what we are trying to do".