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India Okays Conditional Association With Copenhagen Accord

After three months of confabulation within the government, India on Tuesday allowed a conditional association of its name with the Copenhagen Accord.

The accord, which had been negotiated by 29 countries including India at the Danish capital in December 2009, had become a bone of contention with some countries refusing to accept it while the BASIC countries distanced themselves from the contentious document after having negotiated it under pressure.

While the US and other developed countries were keen that key countries, such as India and China, should back the accord to the hilt, the two along with South Africa and Brazil had instead indicated that the primacy of the formal UN negotiations should be maintained.

Union environment minister Jairam Ramesh told TOI, “We have made the conditional association and I have been informed by the Chinese government that it too will associate itself with the accord in a similar fashion as India.”

The BASIC countries had stepped away after an assessment that the accord, if operationalised immediately, as recommended by the rich countries, would tilt the balance of international climate negotiations against them. They demanded that the accord, which only a select group of countries had been party to, should either be treated as a mere guidance note or be taken through the formal negotiations and be accepted by all the 180 plus countries in order to gain greater legal status — something that failed to happen at the Copenhagen meet.

Now India has reiterated that “the accord is meant to facilitate the ongoing negotiations in the two tracks (of the formal UN negotiations)” and that it is not a legally binding document.

India has also demanded that its name be used to back the accord only if all its conditions, including the fact that the pact will not become a new track of negotiations or a template for outcomes, is indicated in the Copenhagen Accord.

The conditions gain significance in view of the recent US submission to the UN climate convention that the accord become the basis for all future discussions on a long term deal and the existing formal talks be put aside.

Many negotiators in the Indian team believe that the US is only vitiating the atmosphere by putting out radical demands. They believe that with the US climate bill facing rough weather in the sea of domestic politics, the Obama administration is now keen to delay the formal UN talks and stall the process as it does not want to commit to any international deal without prior approval from its domestic system.

Times of India, 9 March 2010