India: Rio+20 goals are “a backdoor for caps on emissions”

By RTCC staff

Jayanthi Natarajan at the UNFCCC climate change talks in Durban

Indian Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan protected the notion of "equity" throughout the Durban conference (Source: UNFCCC/Mark Garten)

India has expressed concerns that the draft goals of the Rio+20 summit later this year would provide a “backdoor to emission cuts”, according to newspaper reports emanating from the country.

An article in The Times of India, which does not attribute the view to a particular Indian Government official, states that the country, along with other developing nations, are concerned that the universal nature of some of the Rio objectives go against the 20 year-old principle of ‘Common but Differentiated Responsibilities’.

The concept ensures that poorer countries are permitted to pursue development and cut carbon within their means, whilst heavier emitting economies make more drastic cuts.

At the UN climate change negotiations in Durban, India agreed to be part of a process toward a global deal on emission cuts on the condition that a rich/poor firewall was maintained.

Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan made a passionate plea to that effect on the final day of the UN climate talks in Durban, see the video below.

However, the Rio+20 draft document states that the Sustainable Development Goals should be: “universal and applicable to all countries”.

It does permit “differentiated approaches”, but the wording permits any targets to be universal.

Writing for RTCC, Susannah Fisher from the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the LSE says this approach from India should come as no surprise.

“Historical emissions and resulting responsibility have been a cornerstone of the Indian negotiating position since the seminal work on this by the Centre for Science and Environment in 1991 making a distinction between ‘luxury emissions’ of western societies and “survival emissions” of the Indian rural population.”

VIDEO: RTCC filmed Indian Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan’s impassioned plea for equity to remain a central part of her country’s future climate commitments

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