UN climate chief supports Indian plan

Last Updated: Wed, Nov 10, 2010 19:22 hrs

New Delhi: A new plan put forward by India for success at the forthcoming climate summit at Cancun received support from the UN climate chief on Wednesday.

Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh said here that India is willing to show more flexibility and will play a leadership role at the summit. For this purpose, India had last week put forward a proposal by which there would be international consultation and analysis of actions taken by all countries to combat climate change.

The issue of monitoring, reporting and verifying (MRV), has been one of the main sticking points in global negotiations towards a climate treaty, with industrialised countries saying they wanted this if they were going to pay for these actions. Developing countries, on the other hand, saw this as an assault on their sovereignty.

Last week, at a summit preparatory meet in Mexico City, Ramesh suggested a middle ground - that MRV be done through an international mechanism rather than the country paying for the action. On Wednesday, he said at a press conference that some countries welcomed the suggestion 'enthusiastically, while others said they would have to study it'.

Within hours of Ramesh's statement, UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres told IANS over the phone from her headquarters in Bonn that she found India's suggestion 'very productive' and was confident that it would be discussed at Cancun.

Speaking at the end of a two-day Delhi Ministerial Dialogue on 'Climate Change: Technology Mechanism', attended by ministers and representatives from 35 countries, regional groupings and UN organisations, Ramesh said that in Cancun, countries must arrive at a conclusion as this was the 'last chance' to strike a deal.

'We are running out of time and Cancun is the last chance. The credibility of the climate change mechanism is at stake. Every country has shown some flexibility; even the BASIC (Brazil, India, South Africa and China) group has demonstrated flexibility. Their position has been fundamental and not fundamentalist,' the minister told reporters here.

'We don't want to repeat Copenhagen but want Cancun to succeed. We will ensure whatever needs to be done to come out with a set of decisions. We will play a leadership role, both as India and as a member of BASIC countries,' he said.

The BASIC group has been blamed by some industrialised countries for failure of the Copenhagen summit last year. The summit only resulted in the Copenhagen Accord, a non-binding document that listed steps that need to be taken to mitigate climate change.

'India will be more flexible at Cancun climate talks'

Ramesh also emphasised on the need to agree on a second commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol by the end of the Nov 29-Dec 10 Cancun summit.

The Kyoto Protocol is the only legal document available that aims at fighting global warming. The current commitment period of the protocol expires by the end of 2012.

'Technology and finance are two essential pillars of any international climate change treaty. We discussed here how a technology mechanism will function,' he said. Officials who attended the meeting said it was decided to concentrate on technologies that would help developing countries adapt to climate change effects, as that was not likely to bring up the vexed matter of Intellectual Property Rights.

On the other vexed issue of whether industrialised countries were keeping their Copenhagen commitment of paying $30 billion between 2010 and 2012 to help developing countries cope with climate change, Ramesh said $7 billion had already been pledged, but he was not clear on how much of this was 'new and additional' to existing aid money.

Figueres said that $28 billion had already been identified, but she too did not know how much of it was new and additional.

Developing countries see the handover of this money as proof of the industrialised countries' commitment to fight climate change, which is already affecting farm output, worsening droughts, floods and storms and raising the sea level, mainly in poor tropical countries.