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India Won’t Allow Differentiation Between Rich & Poor Countries To Be Killed

Nitin Sethi, Business Standdard

Ajay Mathur, a member of the Prime Minister’s Council on Climate Change, director general of the Bureau of Energy Efficiency and India’s principal media interface on the Paris climate change talks, speaks to Nitin Sethi on India’s interests in the negotiations.

What are India’s objectives at the Paris talks?

There are two. The whole world should start moving on a path that shall ultimately take us to a world in which the temperature increase is not more than 2 degree centigrade above the industrial era. And at the same time we do this in a manner that we are able to provide the benefits of energy and therefore carbon space to peoples’ lives, whether it is lighting their homes or from moving from point A to point B or whether it is machinery, all of that would need energy. Those are the two broad objectives. We therefore think, a system that is based on countries pledging – what is called nationally determined contributions – is a good way ahead. It allows countries to do what they can. It allows them to meet those goals and get the confidence that they can do that much and more. It helps countries to build up the trust that everyone shall deliver. This virtuous cycle of trust and confidence is a good way to move ahead.

But if this virtuous cycle does not produce adequate effort from the world to keep temperature rise below 2 degree Celsius. Then, there is the suggested review process and subsequent ratcheting up of pledges and there is the stock-take proposal. How does India see this happen?

We see that each country would be reporting – we already have the biennial update report – these would be done in a manner that we have already agreed to. The monitoring reporting and verification is happening according to the ICA (International Consultation and Analysis) for developing countries and IAR (international assessment and review) for developed countries – this is how we see it. So the world comes to know what is happening. What the global stock take does is see where everyone’s effort collectively takes us. We therefore would like that global stock-take be an indicator that provides a measure or signal of what countries need to do more and not just on mitigation but also on finance, technology. So it’s a global stock take on both mitigation as well as means of implementation. This would provide the information that is needed for countries themselves and for groups within countries and then decide how they want to do more. We agree that each country should do more every time they make a nationally determined contribution. So this time if you say India has said India’s emission intensity would be reduced by 33-35% below 2005 levels by 2030, we certainly expect that when we give our next target it would be even greater, we won’t slide back.

So if I understood you right, you said the targets would be nationally determined and not internationally?

That is right.

If nationally determined numbers of countries collectively don’t add up to what is needed, and not just on mitigation but on finance and technology, then what happens?

One of the things we have learnt over last so many years of working together is that what works is public opinion. Therefore I think what is most important is that there is a periodic and transparent mechanism by which countries actions as well as the resources that are provided are put out in the public domain. We believe that is the best driver for each country to not only do what they have promised but even do better than what they have promised.

Did you also suggest differentiation between developed and developing countries in the review process? Please explain what is meant by operationalization of the principle of differentiation in the Paris agreement?

We are looking at differentiation across all elements. When we are giving our INDCs (Intended Nationally Determined Contributions) there is a kind of self-differentiation that is already occurred. Countries that are early in their development are promising that the carbon intensity of their economies will become less. Those countries that are already developed are pledging that their emissions will reduce by absolute levels. So, what we are seeing is that there is a self-differentiation that has occurred. This is in the mitigation goals. Similarly in the measurement reporting and verification or MRV we would like to see a differentiation occur in the way the monitoring and review system is set up in developed and developing countries. So this is the particular way we want to move the concept of differentiation. Another place where we would like to see differentiation occur is on commitments to provide resources. The commitment is that of Annexe I countries and that is what should be included in the agreement.

So you are against ideas that countries willing to do so or with the capacity to do so, besides the developed countries, should also contribute to climate finance?

You know the phrases like capacity to do so it means someone else is making a judgement whether you have the capacity to do so or not – that seems very strange. Willing to do so – what does that mean? Is it a pressure tactic? So I think you have to stay true to the intent of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change which is that there is a historical responsibility and obligation of the countries which have this historical responsibility to provide this support. Beyond this what the countries want to do they can do it but that is outside the agreement.