Can the rest of the world monitor India's voluntary actions on climate change? This is a major sticking point at the ongoing United Nations climate talks.
The issue of MRV — measurable, reportable and verifiable pledges — has defined battle lines here in Copenhagen, with major developing countries, including India, standing firm that their voluntary mitigation actions were not open to international scrutiny. On the other side, some rich nations, led by the U.S. have insisted that there could be no deal without verification for all "major emitters."
On Thursday, however, there seemed to be some softening of language on both sides, indicating that a truce may be possible.
"The Americans have accepted 75 per cent of our formula for MRV," said Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh who had a discussion with the American congressional delegation on Thursday. His four-point formula, presented in Parliament, included a revised biannual national communication to the U.N. on India's actions, international scrutiny for all actions funded by outside money, domestic scrutiny based on international guidelines for all domestic-funded action and the submission of that domestic scrutiny report to the U.N. "for information" alone.
After a discussion with other BASIC countries - China, Brazil and South Africa - India will consider easing its position by including an exchange of the domestic MRV report on a voluntary and discretionary basis, and allowing clarifications on data only. "We will not allow any review of implementation and we will not allow any review of the adequacy of our commitment," said Mr. Ramesh.
And Chinese Vice-Minister He Yafei said China was "willing to have explanation and clarification if need be" and would also consider "international exchange, dialogue and cooperation that is not intrusive... that does not infringe upon China's sovereignty."
There seems to have been similar movement towards consensus on the American side. Earlier this week, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton penned an article in the International Herald Tribune, insisting on "verification" as a centrepiece of any international deal. On Thursday, she replaced that word with "transparency" and agreed that "there are many ways to achieve transparency that would be credible and acceptable."
In this battle of words, they haven't declared a truce yet, but the U.S. and developing countries are clearly searching for some common ground.