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UN Climate Summit: India Toughens Stance Against Green Protectionism

New Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan is talking tough ahead of the Durban climate summit, speaking out against the threat of green protectionism.

With India proposing the inclusion of some of neglected issues in the agenda of the UN climate change negotiations in Durban later this year, experts feel the country has taken a U-turn from its stand in Mexico 2010 and is following a better line.

The environment ministry, in a communique to the Secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) earlier this week, pitched for taking into account concerns of developing nations that were ‘neglected and not properly addressed’ during the Cancun, Mexico talks last year.

India wants to include three contentious issues — on unilateral trade measures, intellectual property rights (IPR) and equitable access to sustainable development — in the provisional agenda of the 17th meeting of the Conference of Parties (COP 17) to be held in Durban, South Africa, Nov 29-Dec 10.

According to the ministry, India is also likely to take up these issues at the BASIC (Brazil, South Africa, Indian and China) meeting scheduled in Beijing Oct 30-Nov 1.

Calling upon India to take a tough stand at the Durban talks, Prodipto Ghosh, former environment secretary, asks why the talks must always be driven by developed countries.

“The three important points raised by India were very much part of the text of the climate declarations during the talks in Bali, Copenhagen and Cancun, but they never figured as agenda during the past negotiations,” India’s former key negotiator told IANS.

Ghosh says issues of doing away with IPR for transfer of technology to developing countries and equal access to global atmospheric space are central to India’s concern.

“This is the time when developing countries should make a strong pitch and pursue them vigorously. India should not, and I think, will not agree to adopt same measures as developed countries,” said the senior fellow at The Energy Research Institute (TERI).

According to Ghosh, India, under the leadership of former environment minister Jairam Ramesh, had weakened its stand and that led the European Union (UK) to seek an outcome at Durban that is legally binding for all — developed and developing nations.

Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan has been talking tough ahead of the Durban talks, apparently giving a signal to developed countries.

“Countries should avoid using environment concerns to further their economic interests. One should not pass on green protectionism (deliberate use of environmental policy to discriminate against foreign commercial interests) in the name of green economy,” she said.

The Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) — which last year criticised Ramesh’s stand that all countries must take binding commitments under appropriate legal form to control their emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) — said India is taking a better line now.

“Ramesh’s stand was a major departure in the 17-year climate talks, as India had thus far led developing countries in the stance that global warming was a problem caused by rich countries and it was up to rich countries to reduce their GHG emissions,” Aditya Ghosh, senior coordinator (climate change) at CSE, told IANS.

“India is now taking a completely different stand from last year and, believe me, it is a better one. India, along with other developing countries, should be pushing for technology transfer, funding and a second commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol (only legal agreement that ensures emission cuts by developed countries),” he said.

Industrialised or developed countries have a historical responsibility to cut emissions, since they have been emitting for several years.

The developing world, on the other hand, needs the right to develop. This is the key premise that differentiates the two blocs from each other.

Deccan Chronicle, 16 October 2011