Port of Spain: Pushing for a legally binding
substantive outcome at the Copenhagen climate change meet,
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday said India is willing to
sign on to an ambitious global target for emission reduction
or limiting temperature increase if it is accompanied by an
equitable burden-sharing paradigm.
He denounced attempts by some developed nations to junk
the Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse gas emissions and said
climate change "is becoming the pretext for pursuing
protectionist policies under a green label" which would be
rejected by India and other developing nations.
In a strongly-worded intervention at the Commonwealth
Heads of Government Meet (CHOGM) here, Singh said, "It is
unfortunate that the global discourse on climate change has
become enmeshed with arguments about maintaining economic
competitiveness or level-playing fields."
Singh disapproved of attempts by some developed countries
to lower expectations from the December Summit on Climate
Change, saying the negotiations should not be pre-empted and
effort should be made to achieve as much convergence as
"If the outcome at Copenhagen diminishes rather than
enhances the implementation of the UNFCCC (UN Framework
Convention on Climate Change) in respect of the specific
components of mitigation, adaptation, finance and technology,
it would represent a serious setback, no matter how we seek to
characterise this result," the Prime Minister told the Summit
of 53 former British colonies.
Noting that India has repeatedly emphasised on the need
for the Copenhagen outcome to be "comprehensive, balanced and
above all, equitable," Singh said it must be comprehensive in
the sense that it must cover all the inter-related components
of mitigation, adaptation, finance and technology.
"This means we should resist a partial outcome," he said
at the Commonwealth meet where climate change is the main
theme of discussion.
Singh declared that "India is willing to sign on to an
ambitious global target for emissions reductions or limiting
temperature increase but this must be accompanied by an
equitable burden sharing paradigm."
"We acknowledge the imperative of science but science
must not trump equity. Climate Change action based on the
perpetuation of poverty will simply not be sustainable," he
said at the conference attended by special invitees UN
Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and French President Nicolas
Sarkozy besides the leaders of member countries.
Observing that climate change is a challenge of global
dimensions which deserves an international and collaborative
response, he said, "Climate change is becoming the pretext for
pursuing protectionist policies under a green label. This
would be contrary to the UNFCCC and a violation of the WTO as
well. India and other developing countries will strongly
Singh said that despite efforts of the developing
countries, party to the Kyoto Protocol, the second track of
multilateral negotiations, no progress has been achieved in
fulfilling the mandate of the Working Group on it, which has
been meeting for the past three years.
"The attempts by some countries to dispense with the
Kyoto Protocol altogether has generated avoidable misgivings
and have been strongly resisted by all developing countries
without exception," he said, hoping that "a legally valid
instrument to which we too are parties, will not be set aside
in a cavalier manner" as it will "undermine credibility in any
future legally-binding instrument."
The Prime Minister said contrary to impressions which
have been "mistakenly circulated," the Kyoto Protocol will not
expire in 2012, the year which marks the end of the first
commitment period for developed country parties to fulfil
their legally binding obligations to reduce their economy-wide
emissions by a specific quantified figure.
"The negotiations under way are to review progress
achieved in meeting the targets by 2012 and to sign on to more
significant obligations in the second commitment period
commencing in 2013," he said.
He highlighted that provisions of the UNFCCC had barely
been implemented and in the meantime, the threat of climate
change had become more compelling than had been envisaged when
the Rio Convention was concluded in 1992.
Hence, he said the failure to achieve an outcome on four
components of fight against climate change – mitigation,
adaptation, finance and technology -- at Copenhagen would
serve as a setback.
"A view has been expressed that given the limited amount
of time available, we should aim for a political outcome
rather than a legally binding outcome," Singh noted.
Rejecting this view, he said, "We should not pre-empt the
Copenhagen negotiating process. Whatever time is still
available to us before the High Level Segment meets from
December 16, should be used to achieve as much convergence as
The Prime Minister said if the consensus is that only a
political document is feasible, "then we must make certain
that the post-Copenhagen process continues to work on the Bali
mandate and the UNFCCC continues to be the international
template for global climate action. We must avoid any lowering
There must be "balance and equal priority" given to each
of the four components involved in fighting climate change –
mitigation, adaptation, financing and technology transfer, he
"Mitigation is important but cannot take precedence over
adaptation which, for many countries represented here, poses a
greater challenge. And most important from our perspective, is
the need to ensure an equitable outcome corresponding to the
principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and
respective capabilities," Singh emphasised.
Need for urgency
Explaining the urgency to reach a decision, Singh pointed
out that several small island developing nations, which are
the least responsible for climate change, are the most
vulnerable to its impact and their "very survival is at
"We appreciate their (small island developing countries)
concern because India, too, has extensive island territories
and low lying coastal plains, which are vulnerable to
sea-level rise ad extreme climatic events. We have modest
resources at our disposal but we are willing to share whatever
we have to build adaptive capacity among the least developed
countries and the Small Island Developing States," Singh said.
The Prime Minister noted that India has adopted an
ambitious National Action Plan on Climate Change with 8
National Mission covering both mitigation and adaptation.
"We have not made their implementation conditional upon
obtaining international support. However, we can certainly do
more if there is a supportive global regime," Singh said.
Each of the National Missions, including those on
renewable energy, enhancing energy efficiency and expanding
forest cover, are "platforms on which we would be happy to
pursue cooperative partnership with sister Commonwealth
countries," he said.
He welcomed the proposal made by British Prime Minister
Gordon Brown for the mobilisation of at least USD 100 billion
by 2020 for supporting climate change action in developing
countries, but observed that much of this finance is
market-based and hence subject to market volatility and
"We can hardly plan long-term action on this basis.
Furthermore, adaptation requirements do not lend themselves to
market-based finance," Singh emphasised.