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Javadekar says India will not take U-turns at Lima climate change talks

“India will not take a U-turn in the climate change negotiations, like it did at Copenhagen in 2009,” said the Union environment, forests and climate change minister, Prakash Javadekar, speaking on the eve of his departure for the Lima talks.

Indicating India would continue to stick with the principles it has espoused so far at climate negotiations, with the rare exception during Jairam Ramesh at helm, he said that the developed countries needed to vacate the carbon space for developing countries to eliminate poverty and grow even as they do more to fight climate change. He reiterated that the principles of common but differentiated responsibility and equity would guide Indian position.

He presented Narendra Modi government’s plans to ramp up solar power capacities to 100 Gigawatt in next five years as proof that India was already doing a lot to reduce emissions and reduce dependence on coal. He said that the energy mix of the country would change even as the country produces more coal in coming years. He also referred to the enhanced cess imposed on coal which had generated upwards of Rs 30,000 crore so far for investment in clean energy.

Javadekar is slated to represent India during the second week of the Lima talks with the ministerial round starting on December 8. Most of the 17-member climate negotiating team have reached Lima in batches over past week. The minister will be accompanied by the environment secretary, Ashok Lavasa, member of the PM’s council on climate change and previously a co-chair at the climate talks, J M Mauskar and Dipak Dasgupta, who recently retired from the finance ministry as principle economic advisor and has led discussions on climate finance for India over past years.

Javadekar said that India was willing to engage on any topic with other countries at the Lima negotiations and would obviously work with G77+China, the Like Minded Developing Countries and other groups to find a positive solution.

At Lima he is expected to face a tough round at the high-level ministerial dialogue on climate finance on December 9. Negotiations at the end of the fourth day in Lima indicated that a wide rift had appeared between developed and developing countries on the issue of financing climate change under the 2015 Paris agreement. The developed world almost unanimously wanted all references to a quantified target on finance in the new agreement deleted. EU, which often sells its progressive tag at the climate talks went as far ahead as to say that a target was a “clear red line” for them – implying it was a non-negotiable.

The debate saw the G77 countries come together yet again, as they had done in Warsaw last year on the question of finance, as Sudan tabled a fresh formal draft text for negotiations. “It was done because the co-chairs text is the most biased when it comes to issues of finance. It cannot be the basis of negotiations. They have completely done away with differentiation and provisions of the convention under which the Paris agreement is being negotiated,” said an Indian delegate speaking to Business Standard. He said India wanted submissions from countries to be the basis of negotiations and not the co-chairs’ ideas. “We are not entirely happy with the proposal but we can work on it and provide our submissions to improve it. It is the right starting point for real negotiations,” he added.

The co-chairs continued to be brutally criticised for their perceived bias by developing countries. Nicaragua, which is also part of the Like Minded Developing Countries along with India and China said, if the co-chairs proposals “were to be submitted in an undergraduate course on climate finance in answer to the question of how best to mobilize climate finance, it would not receive a passing grade”, adding that “it goes to great length to avoid the subject of resource mobilization altogether.” This was reported by the Third World Network, an observer organisation at the talks.

Resource mobilisation requires developed countries to put up a road map for how they would provide new, adequate and timely finance to developing countries to enhance their climate actions as required under the convention.

The developed countries, on the other hand appreciated the co-chairs proposals and emphasised the importance of having “all countries in a position to do so” to provide financial support “in accordance with their changing capabilities since the inception of the Convention”.   

The Indian delegate at Lima speaking at the beginning of the fifth day of talks at Lima said, “We saw large principle differences on Thursday. They want to rewrite the convention through the Paris 2015 agreement while the agreed at Durban in 2012 that the agreement was to be done under the convention.” He said the real arguments were bound to only increase as the talks on finance get in to details on day five.

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