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Jairam sells Copenhagen deal to Opposition

IANS
Dec 23, 2009 at 08:45am IST

New Delhi: India has not only protected but enhanced its interests at the Copenhagen climate summit, Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh said on Tuesday, adding that the close coordination between India, China, Brazil and South Africa at the negotiations was another big plus to emerge out of the conference.

Making a statement in Parliament on the outcome of the Dec 7-19 summit, Ramesh said India had repeatedly ensured that there was no possibility of any infringement of national sovereignty.

The other big achievement at the climate summit, Ramesh told the Rajya Sabha, was the close coordination between Brazil, South Africa, India and China -- the so-called BASIC countries -- at the negotiations.

DOING THE BEST: Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh at the Copenhagen Summit last week.

The minister informed MPs: "Negotiations under the Bali Action Plan (BAP) and the Kyoto Protocol (the current treaty to fight climate change) could not be concluded" in the Copenhagen summit and were now supposed to be completed by the end of 2010.

"India, South Africa, Brazil, China and other developing countries were entirely successful in ensuring there was no violation of the BAP (of 2007)," Ramesh said.

"Despite relentless attempts made by developed countries, the conference succeeded in continuing negotiations under the Kyoto Protocol for the post-2012 period", when the current period of the protocol runs out.

Referring to the accord that came out of the summit, and due to which India had been accused of sacrificing its national interests, Ramesh said: "Contents of the accord are not legally binding nor do they constitute a mandate for a new negotiation process under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)."

He informed that India and 25 other countries had been invited by host country Denmark to draft the accord, which the conference did not adopt because there was no consensus.

The conference had however "taken note" of the accord.

The accord clearly sets out the goal of keeping global temperature rise within two degrees Celsius "in context of equity and sustainable development", Ramesh said, adding that he had ensured "right of developing countries like India in having its share of global atmospheric space cannot be ignored, a point repeatedly made by the prime minister in all his interactions".

Responding to criticism that developing countries had accepted a deadline by which their greenhouse gas emissions would peak, Ramesh said: "The accord explicitly recognises that the time frame for peaking will be longer in developing countries.

"It also bears in mind that social and economic development and poverty eradication is first and overriding priorities for developing countries."

Greenhouse gas emissions are warming the atmosphere and leading to climate change.

Ramesh said: "The accord does not speak of a specific peaking year - another area of success."

He admitted that for actions taken by developing countries, and paid for by the rich nations, to mitigate emissions of greenhouse gases, "there is provision for international consultation and analysis".

"The guidelines for these will be devised and defined in due course, but we have incorporated a specific provision that will ensure that national sovereignty is protected."

According to the minister, there was a proposal to accelerate green technology development and transfer. "The negotiations on the precise architecture are underway at UNFCCC. This and many other Indian proposals have found acceptance" in the Copenhagen outcome.

Ramesh said: "A notable feature of this conference is the manner in which the BASIC group of countries (Brazil, South Africa, India and China) coordinated their position.

"BASIC ministers met virtually on an hourly basis right through the conference; India and China worked very very closely together."

The minister said: "I believe the BASIC group has emerged as a powerful group in climate negotiations. Their unity was instrumental in ensuring that the accord was finalised in accordance with the Bali Action Plan and the Kyoto Protocol."

Ramesh added that India had "continued and will continue to work with G77", the Group of 77 countries that - together with China - conducts climate negotiations as a bloc.

But he went back to the meeting of US President Barack Obama with the BASIC heads of government to say: "It was at this meeting that the Copenhagen Accord was clinched to the satisfaction of all concerned".

According to Ramesh: "At the summit, our national interest has been not only protected but enhanced."

"Copenhagen is not a destination but the beginning of a long process," he added. "There are many risks, many hazards, many threats. We have to be extraordinarily vigilant and careful."

At the same time, India had to act against climate change, he added, calling for a "detailed road map for a low-carbon growth strategy in the 12th five year plan" that starts in 2012.

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