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India wants full discussion on differentiation principle

The Indian delegation led by environment minister Prakash Javadekar had a bilateral meeting with the US special envoy on climate change Todd Stern at Lima after landing in Peru.

The meeting was one of a series planned to explore common grounds and understand the non-negotiable issues of each important country before the formal high-level round of climate change negotiations start on Monday with ministers heading delegations of 196 countries.

The meeting a day after India demanded a separate and upfront discussion at Lima on the issue of differentiation between developed and developing countries as the topic had caused fissures through all tracks and elements of negotiations in Lima in the first week.

Sources said the Indian minister raised concerns with his US counterpart over the lack of movement on talks for enhancing climate action by developed countries in the pre-2020 period before the Paris agreement comes in to play. He also expressed concerns about the low level of funding for the Green Climate Fund.

At another side-event on Sunday organised by the Global Legislators Organisation (GLOBE India), the minister informed that India was preparing to bring in a new legislation during the budget session of Parliament which would also address some issues relating to climate change.

The minister was referring to the NDA government’s plan to introduce a new legislation along the lines proposed by the high-level panel headed by T S R Subramanian to review existing five environmental laws. While he referred to inclusion of afforestation efforts and better standards and regulation for air pollution.

The bilateral meeting with the US delegation also saw the minister exchange views on the current state of play at Lima where the talks have got bogged down in very fundamental differences.

While on some issues India has a degree of resonance with the US red-lines on others the classical divide of developed and developing countries at the climate change negotiations has only got deeper.

One of the issues that continue to drive the divide deeper is differentiation between developed and developing countries. On Saturday, when stock-taking of the week-long negotiations took place India demanded an upfront and separate discussion on differentiation.

Speaking for India, Ravi S Prasad said, “In the discussions we have been having, equity and CBDR (common but differentiated responsibilities) has been a critical element, it pervades all the discussion we have. Perhaps, if we could all have a separate discussion on it, then we can move rapidly on other parts of the text.”

The developed countries including the US and EU have collectively pushed to redefine the idea of common but differentiated responsibilities and many developing countries have opposed this move as it dilutes the existing responsibilities of developed nations.

The divide was evident in each element of the negotiations at Lima through the week – the nature of commitments under the 2015 agreement, who should provide finance to fight climate change and the nature of the 2015 Paris agreement itself.
The co-chairs of the talks had taken note of the Indian intervention.

On Monday as talks start the co-chairs are expected to produce another note summing up last week’s talks and presenting negotiating text that reflects all countries’ views and not just cherry-picked ideas.

“We shall have to wait and see if the co-chairs do better than before and produce a more balanced text that reflects countries’ varying ideas and reflects them correctly. If they go back to their old ways we are in for a big fight over the week,” said a negotiator from the LMDC group speaking to Business Standard on Sunday night from Lima. 

Javadekar on his part has already held a long-stock taking meeting with the Indian delegation and is expected to meet his counterparts of the BASIC group (Brazil, South Africa and China) besides interacting with the Like-Minded Developing Countries (LMDC) to which India and China are now more closely linked.

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