COP 21: India plays hardball, raises concerns over Paris draft agreement

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With less than 48 hours to go, all eyes are on India at the global climate summit (COP21), with New Delhi saying there are “many points of departure” with the first draft of the Paris agreement.

The group of 134 developing countries, which includes the G77 and China, has also expressed similar concerns over the 29-page draft text. They pointed out specific issues where negotiators need to arrive at a consensus in the next 48 hours to get a fair and effective climate deal.

Apart from raising concerns over the draft text, India also associated itself with the statements made on behalf of G77. India is also a part of this group.  “The latest draft is a starting point for our final push. But at this stage there are many points of departure. Much work is needed to reach a point of convergence,” Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar said during the Paris Committee meeting on December 9. 

With India adamant on upholding the differentiation principle vis-à-vis climate finance, US President Barack Obama spoke to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on December 9 and sought his support for the Paris deal.

Balance climate ambition and differentiation

Raising India’s specific concerns, Mr Javadekar in his statement said, “The agreement that we are crafting must carefully balance climate ambition and the principle of differentiation. Both are equally important. We cannot have one without the other. It needs to be reaffirmed upfront in the agreement that it is under the Convention and in accordance with its principles. Its objective is to enhance the implementation of the Convention across all its pillars. This is crucial”.

The principles of the convention must be stated correctly without any unnecessary additions, Mr Javadekar said. He emphasised that the agreement must also meaningfully operationalise differentiation across all its elements. “This is not clear in the current draft”, Mr Javadekar stated.

Underscoring India’s commitment to reach a climate deal, Mr Javadekar said, “Let me be clear. We are not suggesting that we remain stuck to the past. Surely, we must look forward and move steadily. But a durable agreement cannot be crafted by diluting historical responsibilities or by putting the polluters and the victims at the same level”. 

Stressing on the fact that the concept of INDCs is a great innovation and has proved a game-changer, Mr Javadekar said, “It has enabled the participation of over 186 countries. Yet, INDCs are not even mentioned in the draft.”

Focusing on the long-term temperature goal, Mr Javadekar stated that India was “deeply sensitive to the demands for higher climate ambition”. He said, “I understand fully the demand for mentioning 1.5 degrees (in the text), as we also have over 1300 islands in India. However, a 1.5 degree goal would require developed countries to massively reduce their emissions and massively ‘scale up’ their financial support to developing countries. This is not happening”.

“India is in favour of a robust transparency mechanism. This should apply not just to mitigation but all other elements, in particular finance,” Mr Javadekar said.

Elaborating on the contentious issue of climate finance where rich countries have to contribute money to the Green Climate Fund to help the poor and developing countries for their adaptation efforts, Mr Javadekar said that, “it was deeply disappointing that on the one hand developed countries were not fulfilling their obligations and on the other hand, they were trying to shift their responsibilities to developing countries themselves.” “There is no indication of scaling up of finance nor a clear roadmap”, he added. 

India also expressed disappointment that some of its other concerns, such as unilateral measures, sustainable lifestyles and climate justice do not find a mention in the draft.

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