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India has made one of the strongest and most elaborate formal submissions in recent times for the climate change negotiations, hardening its stance ahead of a hectic six months of talks leading to the key meeting in Mexico in November.

Taking a position strongly contrasting with that of the US, India has pointed out that the Copenhagen Accord is not to be treated as the basis of a negotiating text unless it is agreed and adopted by all the parties and that it should be used to facilitate the formal UN talks on Kyoto Protocol and a long-term agreement.

While the US in its recent submission has based its entire strategy on mainstreaming the Copenhagen Accord into the official UN talks, India, in contrast, has gone back to the two primary forums created at Bali in 2007 under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change to take forward the talks.

Also in contrast to the US and developed countries’ stance, India has explicitly stated that `per capita accumulative emissions’ should be the basis for sharing of the carbon space and this principle should be embedded in the reference to the global cap on emissions the Copenhagen Accord refers to when asking that temperature rise be limited to below 2 degree Celsius from pre-industrial era.

The US in its submission to the UN instead suggests that such references be done away with completely and suggests that the `shared vision’ section contains nothing beyond the reference to the 2 degree cap.

This specific mention by India has sent contrary signals even within Indian climate policy circles with the Union environment minister having earlier announced that he was willing to re-examine the equity principle and had commissioned a study on it too.

While the US submissions completely disregard the existing Kyoto Protocol and attempts to create a new regime where emerging economies such as India and China would be treated at near par to developed countries, the Indian submission asks for the two-track approach — stronger Kyoto Protocol targets for developed countries and voluntary actions of the developing world.

The US submission has been seen in India as a highly aggressive push by the Obama administration, far beyond the ideas developed in consensus at the Danish capital in December 2009. The Indian counter poise is bound to again show up the great schism that continues to remain in the official talks despite political leaders from developing countries and developed countries at times softening their positions in non-UN forums.

The Times of India, 6 May 2010