India will not take on emission reduction targets: Ramesh

Tuesday, 30 June 2009, 10:20 Hrs
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New Delhi: India will not sign any treaty that legally binds it to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, Minister for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh reiterated here Tuesday, attacking a proposed US legislation that seeks to financially punish countries that refuse to take on such targets.

At a time when climate change - along with terrorism and the economic downturn - is dominating the international agenda, Ramesh told the media that India "must stop looking at climate change purely as an international issue".

"It is most fundamentally a domestic and local issue, as it impacts water security, land productivity, agricultural yields and energy consumption."

All countries are now negotiating an agreement to tackle climate change. They are scheduled to do so by this December, when the next climate summit will be held in Copenhagen.

Industrialised countries, which are already committed to reducing their GHG emissions by 5.2 percent from 1990 levels by 2012, are putting immense pressure on India, China and other emerging economies to commit to GHG emissions reductions or at least caps.

These emissions - 75 percent of them of carbon dioxide - are warming the atmosphere and leading to climate change.

In this fractious atmosphere, Ramesh reiterated India's "eight non-negotiable basic principles":

* India's per capita emission levels will never exceed the per capita emission levels of developed countries.

* India cannot and will not take on emission reduction targets because poverty eradication and social and economic development are the first and over-riding priorities; each human being has equal right to global atmospheric resources; 'common but differentiated responsibility' is the basis for all climate change actions.

* India will continue to be a low-carbon economy.

* India's primary focus is on adaptation (to climate change), with specific niches for mitigation (of GHG emissions).

* India has already unveiled a comprehensive National Action Plan on Climate Change, whose activities are in the public domain. Work on the action plan has been initiated.

* Only those 'nationally appropriate mitigation actions' can be subject to international monitoring, reporting and verification that are enabled and supported by international finance and technology transfer.

* India wants a comprehensive approach to reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD) and advocates REDD+ that includes conservation, afforestation and sustainable management of forests.

* India advocates collaborative research and future low-carbon technology and access to intellectual property rights as global public goods.

Ramesh said industrialised countries that were responsible for almost all GHG in the atmosphere today should be far more proactive in reducing emissions. He described the bill passed by the US House of Representatives Monday as "anaemic. The targets are very unambitious. And the most pernicious part of it is the climate tax."

He welcomed US President Barack Obama's call to the US Senate to reject this part of the bill and said: "India rejects the use of climate as a non-tariff barrier and will oppose the introduction of climate change talks in World Trade Organisation negotiations. We want barriers to trade environmental goods and services to be removed."

At Bonn earlier this month, during the most recent preparatory talks for the Copenhagen summit, India, China and 36 other countries had submitted a proposal that industrialised countries be legally obliged to reduce their GHG emissions by at least 40 percent from 1990 levels by 2020.

Referring to this proposal, Ramesh told IANS: "We don't want the developed countries to push back their commitments to 2050, when none of us here will be around. We want them to reduce their emissions by 2020, and to do it from 1990 levels, instead of pushing the baseline to 2005 as some of them are trying to do."
Source: IANS
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