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Why New Delhi refused to change the climate at G-20

world Updated: Sep 26, 2009 02:22 IST
Pramit Pal Chaudhuri

India was open in saying it had worked to ensure the Group of 20 Pittsburgh summit addressed climate change in only the blandest language.

“We do not see the G-20 as a forum for negotiating on climate change issues, and that includes the finance issue. The sole negotiating forum for climate change is the UN Framework Convention on Climate (UNFCC),” climate change special envoy Shyam Saran said on Thursday.

New Delhi came to Pittsburgh determined to ensure that the diplomatic parameters it had defined for climate change under the UN banner were not diluted.

In the UN system, India has ensured that the rich and poor countries have different responsibilities when it comes to climate change. It also lays out that the rich will have to provide technology and money to help the developing world.

The West has since tried to wriggle out of these positions. One way has been to try and get diluting statements inserted into diplomatic formulations like G-20 communiqués.

India had to defend its climate change stance not only at the G-20, but also at the UN summit on climate change held a few days earlier and the meeting of the Major Economies Forum (MEF) a week before that.

Saran said India was “satisfied that its approach was well located” in the UN secretary-general’s statement.

Some G-20 members had gotten climate change put on the agenda because the group is supposed to look at energy issues. But even here, Saran said, the G-20 will do little more than call for “a comprehensive and equitable outcome” at the Copenhagen summit.

New Delhi argues that it sees the G-20 as too elitist to decide on climate change.

“We would undermine our leadership role in the developing world on this issue. And lose the trust of our larger constituency if we allowed the G-20 to take up this issue,” said an Indian diplomat.

New Delhi is conscious it is being portrayed obstructionist because of its opposition to binding carbon-reduction targets. The government finds this frustrating because it ignores the many other climate-friendly policies that New Delhi has adopted.

This is why, Saran indicated, India will push for the “national communications” instrument of the UNFCC, under which countries to list their climate accomplishments, to be revived.