Prime Minister Manmohan Singh made clear on Saturday that while India is willing to “sign on to an ambitious global target for emissions reduction,” it must be accompanied by “an equitable burden sharing paradigm.” He reiterated India’s view that the Copenhagen outcome must be “comprehensive, balanced and, above all, equitable.”

In a significant intervention at a special session on climate change at the CHOGM summit here, Dr. Singh also indicated India was not in favour of the suggestion being pushed by developed countries and aired at the APEC conference recently, that if there was a failure to evolve a legally binding outcome, the Copenhagen conference could settle for a political outcome.

Noting that “we should avoid any lowering of sights,” the Prime Minister said India’s view was that “we should not pre-empt the Copenhagen negotiating process. Whatever time is still available to us before the High Level segment meets from December 16, should be used to achieve as much convergence as possible.” However, if the consensus is that only a political document is feasible, Dr. Singh said, “then we must make certain that the post-Copenhagen process continues to work on the Bali mandate and the UNFCC continues to be the international template for global climate action.”

At the special session which had the surprising presence of French President Nicolas Sarkozy besides U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Danish Prime Minister Lars Rasmussen, who is to host next month’s summit, much of the emphasis in Dr. Singh’s remarks was on ensuring a balance between the commitments of the developed countries and the obligations undertaken by the developing countries in climate change policies.

Referring to the four components of a climate change response — mitigation, adaptation, finance and technology — Dr. Singh was emphatic that the outcome in Copenhagen should be comprehensive in the sense that “it must cover all the interrelated components” and that “we should resist a partial outcome.” There must be balance and equal priority to each of the four components. Mitigation is important but cannot take precedence over adaptation which for many countries represented here poses a greater challenge.” Underlining that “science must not trump equity,” Dr. Singh said that “climate change action based on the perpetuation of poverty will simply not be sustainable.”

Again indicating India’s unwillingness to have the outcome at Copenhagen pre-empt the already existing trajectory flowing from the Bali Action Plan or to dilute the goals of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, Dr. Singh noted that the mandate for multilateral negotiations was very clear and unambiguous. “We are to work towards an Agreed Outcome at Copenhagen which would represent enhanced implementation of the U.N. Framework Convention,” he said. Therefore, if the “outcome at Copenhagen diminishes rather than enhances the implementation of the UNFCCC in respect of the specific components of mitigation, adaptation, finance and technology, it would represent a serious setback, no matter how we seek to characterise the result.”

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