New Delhi: On a day when the climate summit opened in Copenhagen, Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh reassured the nation that there has been no sellout by the government – India will not accept any legally binding emission cuts and the announced cuts in reduction of energy intensity will not curb our growth.
Trying to build consensus in the Parliament, the minister said during the Zero Hour in Rajya Sabha: "There is no dilution in our stand...There is simply no
compromise on India`s national interest."
Elaborating further, Ramesh said, “We will under no circumstances accept legally binding cuts. The cuts we have announced in energy intensity are not internationally legally binding; it’s a domestic plan. Ours is a unilateral offer, there is no reciprocity.”
Ramesh also pointed out that India will only accept international scrutiny of supported actions (financial package, tech support from the developed countries) and will not accept unsupported (unilaterally announced emission cuts) actions to be subjected to international scrutiny.
However, to the displeasure of the Opposition benches, the Environment Minister added that India will submit a report to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) every two years for ‘consideration’.
“We are prepared to submit to UNFCCC a report on all supported and unsupported actions to the UN for consideration but this proposal doesn’t mean that there will be international scrutiny of non-supported actions,” Ramesh tried to explain.
He also out rightly rejected the claims that India was acting under pressure form any country - the US had claimed that India and China have agreed to cuts following pressure from President Barack Obama.
Ramesh pointed out: “Every major country has something on the table. Our offer only strengthens our negotiation powers.”
He also tried to assure the Parliament on the effect India’s emission cuts will have on growth. The minister said many experts have calculated that even by taking a 20-25% cut in carbon intensity India will jeopardise growth as we will be cutting intensity by turning more energy efficient.
He also pointed out that if at any future date the government feels that India’s unilateral cuts are becoming a constraint on growth then the whole matter will be re-looked into.
“The government is only accountable to the Parliament. We have nothing to hide, all that we do is in public domain. Everything is debated in the Parliament,” Ramesh stressed.
On the reluctance by the developed countries to take their fair share of the climate mess and India losing the debate even before it has started, Ramesh said that India will not concede an inch further unless the developed block acts.
“We cannot better the situation unless developed countries take deeper cuts, give financial package to the poor countries and liberalise flow of green technology. These are the benchmarks on which we will move any further,” he informed Rajya Sabha.
He also denied that India has agreed upon any specific peaking year – the year when emissions from India will get to their maximum and then start to fall. “We reject the notion of a peaking year, this is simply not on our agenda,” he added.
However, the Opposition was not impressed and was up in arms and rejected the government’s stand by saying India is on a weak wicket when it comes to negotiations, as India’s announcement to cut emissions is unilateral and without any corresponding positive move from the developed countries.
Leader of Opposition Arun Jaitley said that by announcing
unilateral emission intensity cut by 20-25 percent by 2020,
India was following a "bad strategy".
He said the government was "totally altering" its stand
that India would not accept any legally binding cuts and would
strictly follow the per capita cut principle.
CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury, who would be part of the
Parliamentary delegation to the Summit, accused the
government of coming under the US pressure.
He said even Prime Minister Manmohan Singh`s participation
was under pressure from Washington which was evident from the
White House statement.
They later staged a walkout. Ramesh described the walkout as "pre-planned".