India's climate position not 'abandoned' but 'nuanced': Ramesh

India's climate position not 'abandoned' but 'nuanced': Ramesh

India's climate position not 'abandoned' but 'nuanced': Ramesh

He said there has been no shifting of the goal post and that he stood by India's position that it will not accept internationally binding cuts "at this stage" because he does not know what are the conditions that accompany them.

He justified the nuancing of the Indian position in his speech yesterday in which he said that all countries must take on binding commitments under an appropriate legal form, saying it was done so that India is "not isolated".

"There is no shift in the position, only nuancing," he told PTI, pointing out that India was trying to find room for "maneuver" due to increasing pressure from developing nations.
"We remain anchored in non-negotiable but we are expanding our options," he said.

The minister came under attack from opposition parties and NGOs in India which attacked him for taking unilateral stand, deviating from long held Indian position that it will not accept any internationally legally binding emission cuts.

They also said he had exceeded the Parliamentary mandate.
"All I said was that all countries must take binding commitments in appropriate legal form. This does not mean that India is taking on a legally binding agreement at this stage. That's our position," Ramesh said.

"Negotiations is all about flexibility, negotiations is all about seeing what is happening and responding creatively. I think frankly, I have not changed the goal post, I have nuanced our position. Our positions remains let me say we will not accept a legally binding agreement at this stage," he told reporters.

"We are not the bad guys, that's very important for India not to be isolated in any of these international forums and we have larger stake in the world economy today that we had perhaps 25 years ago," the minister said.

The vague nature of his remarks has also divided NGOs and the media about whether he was referring to legally binding commitments or a legally binding agreement- although both are linked.

"It is a matter of perception, they are entitled to their views but they are wrong," he said.

"I think India's national interest has been advanced and improved by coming across as proactive, which is important for a country as large as India," Ramesh said.

Pushing hardest for a legally binding treaty are small island nations, which are the most vulnerable to climate change. Countries in India's vicinity- Bangladesh, Maldives, Bhutan and Nepal- are also supporting a legally binding pact.

The United States, India and China are not in favor of accepting a legally binding agreement, which is supported by other developed countries, and several nations within the G77 including African nations and Least Developed Countries.

India's close allies on the climate change issue - Brazil and South Africa - are also in favor of a legally binding agreement, which is causing divisions within the BASIC group.
Public opinion, however, remains divided on whether Ramesh "abandoned" India's position.

Raman Mehta from the Climate Action Network, South Asia, observed that Ramesh had not shifted from India's position.

Facing pressure from other developing countries, Mehta noted that Ramesh had "tried to use language creatively but hadn't made a substantive shift."

The statement, he said, "is not such a bad thing" since it stems out of "pressure from developed countries but rather to accommodate developing countries."
Chandra Bhushan from the Centre of Science and Environment, however, argued that Ramesh had indeed abandoned India's position.

"It removes the firewall between the developed and developing internationalizes India's domestic voluntary action," Bhushan said.