M A I N   N E W S

Climate Change
PM turns the heat on developed nations
Anita Katyal writes from Port of Spain

If Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s tough remarks at the CHOGM summit today are any indication, India remains uncompromising on its stated position on climate change.

Adopting an unusually strong stance, Manmohan Singh upbraided the developed countries for reneging on the resources they agreed to extend to developing countries, making it abundantly clear that India will not accept any decision at next month’s Copenhagen talks which constrains its economic growth or dilutes the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

With developed countries mounting pressure on India to submit to legally binding targets on carbon emission cuts, the PM today took the war to the enemy camp. He said India is willing to limit its temperature increase but developed countries should reciprocate by giving them funds and technology for this purpose as agreed upon in the UNFCCC.

The PM emphasised that instead of diluting the provisions of the UNFCCC and the Bali Action Plan, the outcome of the Copenhagen discussions should enhance the implementation of these agreements as any failure to do so would represent a serious setback. “We should avoid any lowering of sights,” he added.

He also took strong exception to the manner in which climate change is becoming a pretext for pursuing protectionist policies under a green label. “This would be contrary to the UN FCCC and violates the WTO. India and other developing countries will strongly resist this,” he declared and put developed countries on the mat for dispensing with the Kyoto Protocol.

The PM drew these red lines in the course of separate meetings with the French President Nicholas Sarkozy and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown held on the margins of the Commonwealth meet where climate change was taken up on a priority basis. Since France is not a member of Commonwealth, Sarkozy’s presence at this meeting lent an urgency to the ongoing climate change negotiations which are set to intensify as the Copenhagen conference draws closer.

A suspicious Indian establishment views it as a calculated effort to influence the outcome of the Commonwealth discussions on climate change and to isolate India by putting it in the dock as a “deal breaker.” India has not taken kindly to this “psychological warfare” being waged against India and said it will not give in to such pressure even if it is isolated.

“We are not going to take any decision which does not serve our national interest,” said an official who did not wish to be quoted. The PM also disagreed with the suggestion from several developed countries that the Copenhagen talks settle for a political rather than a legally binding outcome since it may not be possible to bridge differences in the short time available. Instead, PM Singh said, efforts must be made to forge a consensus and if this does not materialise, then the subsequent discussions must be with the UNFCCC agreement and the Bali action plan.



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