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In The News

India ready with climate action plan
29 Jun 2008, 0050 hrs 1ST. Nitin Sethi, INN

NEW DELHI: The National Action Plan on Climate Change has been finalised and would in all probability be released by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday. After two rounds of to and fro between different lobbies in the climate change council and within the government, the plan finally weds India international negotiating stance with a domestic agenda on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

As reported by TOL the plan contains a canvas for eight missions on climate mitigation and adaptation. Once the plan is officially released, the relevant ministries would be asked to draw up detailed plans and present them before the PM’s Climate Change Council by September. The plan, though a roadmap for action on the domestic front, is bound to back up the Indian position at the special session on climate change at the G8+5 talks in Japan in the first week of July.

India has been feeling the heat from several key countries in the past couple of months over its international stance. The document will help bolster the country’s argument that it is ready to take an array of ‘no-regret’ actions — steps towards a low carbon economy that don’t come at the cost of its poverty alleviation and growth targets. This is bound to help India, as it has China, that with action being taken on a national level, despite relatively very low level of GHG emissions at present, India should not be expected to take on commitments under an international compact.

June saw developed countries try hard at several fora to corner India and China to principally agree with such an international compact. Earlier in June during the G8+3 (India, China and South Korea) meet, host country Japan tried to force international sectoral efficiency standards. These would force India’s key manufacturing sectors to adhere to international energy efficiency norms with the playing field naturally tilted against Indian industry.

India negotiated its way out to a watered down proposal to set up an International Partnership for Energy Efficiency Cooperation without all conditionalities that Japan had wanted.

Another aspect on which both US and Japan have been pushing hard over the month was to include climate change agenda on the WTO framework. They want India to lower import tariffs on clean technologies which would benefit the developed countries that hold most of these clean technologies. In Japan too, India ensured that mention of WTO linkages was dropped.

Earlier, senior energy advisor to US President James Connaughton had visited India and met finance minister P Chidambaram, PM’s special envoy on climate change Shyam Saran and Planning Commission top brass to push for a similar deal in Seoul at a US- sponsored meeting. He had come trying to pursuade India to agree for a political statement at Seoul that would send a ‘pro-developing country emission cut commitments’ signal to the UN negotiations. But the government stuck to its guns in Seoul too.

Sources said that countries were piling on pressure through formal diplomatic channels besides mobilising other resources to generate public support abroad and in India. Sources said that UK’s former PM Tony Blair, who has also donned the hat as a climate crusader, had also tried to meet the Indian PM ahead of a release of his report in Tokyo demanding India should also take on greenhouse gas emission cuts.

The developed countries seem to be intransigent on their demand that India and China commit to emission cuts,’ said one of the negotiators. While the domestic plan is expected to take some of the edge off the arguments of rich countries that India is not doing enough back home, the battle cries are going to only get shriller as Copenhagen appears on the horizon. By 2009, the UN convention on climate change is expected to finalise the new compact for emission reductions at its meet in Copenhagen.

 

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