India stands ground on equity, as Kyoto Protocol revived

Natarajan`s speech ensured that India`s main concern - the inclusion of the concept of equity in the fight against climate change - became part of the package.

Durban: The crucial Kyoto Protocol got a new lease of life as climate negotiators agreed on Sunday to a second commitment period under it after India, refusing to be "intimidated" by the West, pushed hard for the principle of equity to be a part of the new roadmap to cut emissions.

The 14 days of marathon climate talks went into overtime and the climax was marked by angry exchanges between representatives of the European Union and those from India and China, with Minister for Environment Jayanthi Natarajan saying New Delhi would not yield to any undue pressure.

"India will never be intimidated by threats or intimidation or any kind of pressure like this," Natarajan said in a passioned statement at the plenary of talks, refusing to surrender the principle of burden-sharing between rich and poor nations.

Natarajan, who throughout the negotiations maintained that India wants the principle of equity to be included in the roadmap, said New Delhi cannot write a "blank cheque".

China`s main delegate, Xie Zhenhua, too lent support to the Indian minister, batting in favour of differentiated responsibility.

"We should maintain the principle of common but differentiated responsibility," Xie said.

After intense negotiation and wrangling, the climate negotiators agreed to revive the Kyoto Protocol, the only legally binding climate treaty, which is set to expire in 2012.

India had strongly demanded that the developed nations make sure the Protocol is not jettisoned.

"Am I to write a blank cheque and sign away the livelihoods and sustainability of 1.2 billion Indians, without even knowing what the EU `roadmap` contains?" asked Natarajan.

"Please do not hold us hostage." While the Kyoto Protocol came into force in 1997, the US has refused to ratify it, and the European Union, which as a block is the third largest emitter of carbon, says it was hardly effective as it left out all the major polluters.

The new "roadmap" agreed upon by the 194 nations lays out for the devising of a new accord that would, for the first time, be legally-binding for all major emitters, including India and China, and would come into effect from 2020.

The developed nations, meanwhile, will enter into another five-year commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol from 2013 to 2017.

Kyoto Protocol sets binding targets for 37 industrialised nations and the EU to slash carbon emissions to 5 per cent below the 1990 levels by 2012. Until now, China and India have been exempt from any constraints because they are developing countries.


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