India´s position: Equity and the international conspiracy on shifting the blame to developing countries

India started yesterday´s conference by reminding everyone how seriously they take Climate Change “We believe in Climate Change, and we also believe that the world needs to cut emissions drastically”. Maybe they did this to contrast the opinion of other politicians from developed countries who resist swallowing the big climate truth that the scientific community puts on their tables, or maybe it was to win environmentalists´ heart…
India did not want to leave anything behind on this conference, and took the opportunity very seriously to launch a message to the world: they should be considered as “good guys” in the climate debate. After reminding everyone that Climate negotiations are falling apart (just in case we had not read the news lately) and that emissions are increasing in almost all countries, the Indian delegation spoke about something not many people was expecting: the media conspiracy against the Indian climatic position. According to the Indian delegates, there is a North-South divide in how media report climatic information. For example, in 2009-2010, India had an increase in emissions of 9%, and this was very much echoed by the international media. However, the USA, had 4% increase. Actually, in this period India increased 0.15 billion MT CO2eq while the USA increased their emissions by 0.2 billion MT CO2eq. “But why do the media only report that India increased their emissions, and they do not provide data for developed countries?”
What is as clear to the Indian delegation is that emissions are strongly linked to growth, and developed countries have already had their turn to emit, now it´s their turn, it´s India´s turn.
But maybe one of the issues that enraged most the Indian delegates was the Cancun Agreement. I now wonder, if they dislike it so much now, how come they convened to it last year in Mexico?
The Indian delegation did not spare any words when speaking about the Cancun Agreement; they said that the “Cancun agreement is bad for Climate Change and is bad for us”, and that “Pledges do not add up to effective action, even without double counting, leakages and loopholes can be translated into a temperature increase of 2.5C to 5C”. India also said that the Cancun agreement “junks the principle of Common but differentiated responsibilities, and it also junks the principle of historical emissions”. Wow!! So, what was the Indian delegation doing last year when they agreed to this Cancun Agreement?
In case their message was not clear enough, they stressed again that Indians have the right to emit, for all the centuries they had not done it as much. But just in case we would take this country as the “new polluting kid on the block”, they stressed that they “were not asking for right to pollute, but demanding the right to develop”. Indians made a very clear statement that their position at the negotiations will just be based on the principles of differentiated responsibilities, and that no other agreement will be acceptable or effective for them.
The minister of the environment made an interesting tacit reference to the other BASIC Asian country, China – The Chinese delegation spoke for the first time yesterday about assuming legally binding emission reduction targets under certain conditions- by saying “ Developing countries, even if they are ready to talk about legally binding targets, they must be differentiated ones”. The Minister did not leave without letting everyone know that she thinks that there is an effort from developed countries to shift blame to developing countries. And, she reminded everyone that the issue of equity was left out in Cancun, and that they will not allow it to be left out while in Durban.
The anecdote at this conference happened when the Indian delegation spoke about their coal plants and the necessity to keep them in place. Two environmentalists wrote “India say no to coal” on a banner and stood up with it silently on the first row, although this did not seem to bother the Indian delegates at all I should say.
What implication this will have for the negotiations that are taking place this week remains yet to be seen… Will India become the next bottleneck in Climate negotiation? I think they would rather have this question translated into “will equity and the differentiated responsibility principle be the bottleneck of climate negotiations”?