Saturday, December 10, 2011

Developed nations don't want India to hurt its economy: European Union

In the wake of a week-long intense squabbling between India and the European Union (EU) at climate talks here, a top EU negotiator has clarified that developed nations do not want India to harm its economy but the country still needs to agree to a legally binding treaty.

"We would never dream of asking India to harm its economy," EU Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard told PTI. "We fully recognise India's right to grow and we are fully aware that India has lot of development needs and needs to access energy," Hedegaard said.

"But the challenge is that we just think that a treaty in the world of the 21st century must have the same legal value for everyone," she added. "We would never ask India to take the same kind of responsibilities as the developed world."

Tensions between India and the EU were high during the course of climate negotiations in Durban where 194 countries had gathered to decide the next steps to combat climate change.

So far, no deal has been brokered and the conference, which was to conclude on Friday, is expected to run into Sunday afternoon.

By Saturday evening many of the ministers had left Durban. But top negotiators of key countries walked in and out plenary halls looking rather exhausted. Most of them had got little sleep since negotiations have been running around the clock for two days now.

The central question of the talks is whether India, China and the US will agree to the EU Roadmap, which means signing up to a legally binding treaty by 2015 so that it comes into force by 2020.

While India has been described as "stumbling block" in the talks, it continues to stress the role of "equity" and "historical responsibility."

New Delhi maintains that its overriding priority is poverty eradication. "I can see that countries will not be as ambitious as the EU would like," said Hedegaard, responding to whether the Roadmap would be accepted. "But I think we will see substantial steps forward."

"I think it is very important for us to address the ambition gap," she added, pointing that time was running out at Durban.

Developing countries, however, feel that the "ambition gap" comes from the EU and the United States. Speaking for the African Group, Seyni Nafo said that the EU Roadmap did not address two main problems facing the talks. "We have an ambition gap and a finance gap," he said. "The roadmap doesnt solve those."

Developed countries have not yet made concrete pledges for the Green Climate Fund, which will provide USD 100 billion a year from 2020 to developing countries to adapt to climate change.

India, meanwhile, is pushing for a second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol. Under the 1997 Protocol, 37 developed countries accepted legal obligations to reduce carbon emissions during a first commitment period, which expires next year.

Some countries like Japan and Canada are withdrawing from the treaty citing it ineffective because it leaves out 80 per cent of carbon emission produced by China, India and the United States.

The EU is willing to sign up for a second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol only if emerging economies agree to their Roadmap. "I was astonished and disturbed by the comments of my colleague from Canada who was pointing at us as to why we are
against the roadmap," Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan had said in her speech to ministers.

"I am disturbed to find that a legally binding protocol to the Convention, negotiated just 14 years ago is now being junked in a cavalier manner," she said. "Countries which had signed and ratified it are walking away without even a polite goodbye," she said. "And yet, pointing at others."