India hasn't changed its climate policy: PM

Replying to a debate in the Lok Sabha, Manmohan Singh said: "Nor is it a bilateral declaration between India and another country or a group of countries. It is a declaration that represents a shared view among 17 developed and developing countries, the latter category including China, South Africa, Brazil, Indonesia and Mexico. Therefore, the formulations are necessarily generally worded to reflect different approaches and positions of a fairly diverse group of countries."

The Prime Minister described as "a one-sided and misleading interpretation" the criticism that the reference in the declaration that global temperature increase should not exceed two degrees Celsius represented a significant shift in India’s position on climate change and that it may oblige the country to accept emission reduction targets.

"It is India’s view, which has been consistently voiced at all forums, that global warming is taking place and that its adverse consequences will impact most heavily on developing countries like India," Manmohan Singh said.

"The reference in a document to two degrees Celsius increase as a possible threshold reflects a prevalent scientific opinion internationally and only reinforces what India has been saying about the dangers from global warming."

The Prime Minister accepted that that this was the first time India had accepted a reference to two degrees Celsius as a possible threshold guiding global action, "but this is entirely in line with our stated position on global warming".

"Drawing attention to the seriousness of global warming does not automatically translate into a compulsion on the part of India or other developing countries represented in the Major Economic Forum to accept emission reduction obligations," he added.

"I would like to mention that our position and the Chinese position are nearly identical, and we have been coordinating with that country. Quite to the contrary, the greater the threat from global warming, the greater the responsibility of developed countries to take on ambitious emission reduction targets."

The  Prime Minister pointed out that was why 37 developing countries including India, China, Brazil, South Africa and Indonesia had tabled a submission at the multilateral negotiations (in Bonn this June), asking the developed countries to accept (greenhouse gas emission) reduction targets of at least 40 percent by 2020 with 1990 as the baseline.

"The Major Economic Forum Declaration reaffirms the principles and provisions of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, in particular, the principle of equity and of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities," Manmohan Singh said and reminded MPs that the convention imposes emission reduction targets only on developed countries.

"Developing countries are committed to sustainable development. The full incremental cost of any mitigation by them must be fully compensated by transfers of financial and technological resources from developed countries. This is fully reflected in the Major Economic Forum Declaration," the prime minister declared.

"Furthermore, at the insistence of India, supported by other developing countries, the declaration includes an explicit acknowledgement that in undertaking climate change action, the 'first and overriding priority' of developing countries will be their pursuit of the goals of economic and social development and poverty eradication.

"This should allay any apprehension that India will be under pressure to undertake commitments that may undermine her economic growth prospects."

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