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Updated: August 25, 2009 02:14 IST

India and China have complete convergence on climate issues

Ananth Krishnan
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Minister for Enviornment and Forests Jairam Ramesh addressing a conference in New Delhi. File Photo: V.V. Krishnan
The Hindu Minister for Enviornment and Forests Jairam Ramesh addressing a conference in New Delhi. File Photo: V.V. Krishnan

India and China have a complete convergence of views heading into the climate change summit in Copenhagen in December, and the Chinese have assured India that they will not strike any deal with the United States that could undermine Indias negotiating position at the climate talks, Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh said on Monday.

In Beijing for the first ever ministerial-level talks between India and China on climate change, Mr. Ramesh said India and China had agreed to co-ordinate their positions before every major international gathering on climate change, a move that reaffirms the convergence of the two countries positions.

With four months to go before the Copenhagen climate summit, there have been little signs of the positions of developing countries like India and China and that of western countries moving closer.

India and China have maintained that they will not accept legally-binding emissions reduction targets citing developmental priorities, and have called for greater commitments from western countries to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Mr. Ramesh said the two countries would be prepared to think of out-of-the-box solutions to change the perception in the West that they were against an agreement being reached, but reiterated that any consideration of committing to a peak in emissions would hinge on Western countries fulfilling their commitments first.

Mr. Ramesh met with Xie Zhenhua, vice-chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission, Chinas top economic planning body, and Su Wei, Chinas chief climate change negotiator, in a four and half hour discussion.

He said Mr. Xie conveyed a strong message that Chinas deal with the U.S. was only an engagement in specific areas like energy efficiency and renewable energy, and there was no question of China doing any side-deal.

Both India and China are in complete agreement of views on certain critical items as it relates to Copenhagen, he said. Both oppose trade protectionism, and both emphasized the fundamental principle of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which is common but differentiated responsibilities. The most important word here is differentiated.

Both countries also opposed any efforts to link trade protectionism to climate change issues, he said, referring to the recent passage of the Waxman-Markey legislation by the U.S. House of Representatives which called for imposing penalties on imports from countries which did not accept legally-binding emission reduction targets.

Mr Ramesh said they also agreed to explore joint mitigation activities looking beyond Copenhagen.

Among the proposals for such joint activities was getting Chinese power companies that were set up in India to demonstrate carbon dioxide reduction technologies.

Mondays meeting also reiterated the impasse between the positions of developing countries and the developed world that needs to be overcome if a deal will be struck in Copenhagen. Just about the only conciliatory message directed towards the West coming out of Mondays meeting was that India and China would begin to think of looking at peaking [of emissions] some time in the future, Mr. Ramesh said. But even this statement was suffixed with two pre-conditions. He said developed countries had to first demonstrate actual reductions on the ground and fulfil their legal commitments, and also provide assistance in terms of financing and technology for developing countries.

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