India on Tuesday favoured a legally binding climate change agreement from the developed countries saying a political pact will not be “enforceable”, even as it asserted that its voluntary reduction of carbon emission intensity was not announced under pressure.

Stressing the importance of a treaty at Copenhagen, the Prime Minister’s Climate Change envoy Shyam Saran said it was too early to “pre-empt that the negotiations would fail to produce legally binding commitments and governments would have to settle for a political agreement.”

20-25 per cent cut by 2020

India decided to cut down its carbon emission intensity by 20-25 per cent by 2020 in the run up to the Copenhagen summit, shortly after a similar declaration by China.

Asked if the recent announcement on emission reduction indicated flexibility in India’s position Mr. Saran said: “We are not required by the convention to do this but we are doing this in order to facilitate and promote a successful outcome.”

Mr. Saran highlighted the need to work towards “an agreed outcome” as was mandated by the Bali action plan, and only if the countries failed to arrive at a “substantive outcome” on those lines then “we can take a call on the outcome that we now aim for.”

“But to say that we should only aim for a politically binding document does not really mean very much to us because politically binding means that commitments that are taken will not be enforceable,” the top Indian Climate Change official noted. “What we would be looking for are enforceable commitments,” he said.

Legally binding commitment from developed nations

Mr. Saran stressed that in India a legally binding commitment from developed nations would carry more weight than a politically binding one. “We must not pre-empt the results of these negotiations,” he told PTI.

“As far as India is concerned and also other members of the G 77 and China we have argued that we have a week of negotiating time left before the high-level segment.

“Before the Heads of state/government arrive for the High Level Meet before December16th the two ad hoc working groups -- the Ad Hoc Working group on the Long Term Cooperative Action under the Bali Action Plan and the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Kyoto Protocol will be continuing their work from where the negotiations left off in Barcelona.

At the same time, a second track of negotiations are being for conducted for the extension of the Kyoto Protocol into its second commitment period following the end of the first commitment period on December 31, 2012 under which industrialised nations are obligated to legally binding carbon emission cuts.

New Delhi not to get hustled

When asked by PTI that in the last minute momentum of getting a deal done India would be forced to sign a broad political agreement that may be against some its positions on Climate Change, Mr. Saran emphasised that New Delhi would not get hustled.

He also highlighted that India would not be “isolated” since it was working with a large group of G 77 and China and all decisions would be based on “consensus.” “India is working together with a very large number of developing countries. It is not a matter of India getting isolated or India getting hustled into something,” Mr. Saran said.

“I think it is a little odd to talk about getting isolated if you are part of a vast majority of countries who are represented here. Why should anyone think we’re getting isolated?” he added.

Any consensus that emerges has to be something that everyone agrees upon it is not merely a question of India agreeing.” He said yesterday mitigation action being taken voluntarily by developing countries should be supported by financial resources and technology.

The fundamental elements also include a mechanism for technology transfer as well as a financial mechanism that provides for large-scale mobilisation and deployment for financial resources on a stable and predictable basis.

The 12-day long climate change conference kicked off yesterday with strong calls for action by Denmark’s Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen, UN’s top scientist R K Pachauri and UN’s top climate change official Yvo de Boer.

The negotiators are expected to produce either a legally binding document or at least a document that captures an agreement on key political fronts to tackle climate change that will be worked into a legally binding treaty next year.

A politically binding commitment seems more likely -- signed by the leaders of 100 countries who arrive next week for the last week of the conference including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, US President Barack Obama and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao.

UN Chief Ban Ki-moon said that these political commitments must include emission reduction targets from industrialised countries, mitigation action from developing countries and aid for them for clean economic growth.