India and China, increasingly close allies in the climate change debate, will on Monday begin talks looking at a number of different ways the two countries can collaborate in devising joint climate change strategies, from sharing glacial data to promoting reforestation projects.
On Sunday, Jairam Ramesh, Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Environment and Forests, arrived in Beijing on a four-day visit during which he will meet with officials from China’s top economic planning body and the Chinese Environment Ministry. On Monday, Mr. Ramesh will hold talks with Xie Zhenhua, the vice chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission, China’s national planning body. On
the agenda for the talks are a range of issues of common interest on which the two countries will look to collaborate, from the setting up a joint working group on the environment to working together on
Mr. Ramesh told The Hindu the two countries will look at setting up mechanisms to share data and research on Himalayan glaciers. There have been increasing concerns on the retreat of glaciers in both India and China, which are the source for many of the subcontinent’s rivers. The state of Tibet’s glaciers also has a direct impact on India, as rivers like the Brahmaputra, crucial to the livelihood of millions in India, originate in Tibet.
Another area of focus during his visit will be reforestation. Mr. Ramesh has called for reforestation efforts to be given more credit in climate change negotiations. China adds an estimated 5 million hectares of forests every year, and India adds around 1 million hectares.
His visit is significant as it comes less than four months before the climate summit in Copenhagen begins. Both India and China share similar positions heading into the talks, and will look to reaffirm their common interests during this visit. The two countries say they cannot accept legally binding emissions reduction targets, citing development priorities, and have called on Western countries to do more to cap emissions. Mr. Ramesh recently described China as India’s “most important ally” in the climate change discussions.