Developed countries pledge no funds; EU feels it was a waste of time

Union Minister for Environment and Forests Jayanti Natarajan smiles when she says India’s known stand on climate change mitigation has been accepted.

But the smile is replaced by a frown when someone asks if the developed countries have pledged any money to help the developing countries. No, she says, adding valiantly that India does not want to commodify the environment.

“We remain disappointed with the weak political will in developed countries to provide enhanced means of implementation to developing countries. We are glad that we have agreed to set up two important mechanisms, one for Technology Transfer and another for Finance. Both were Indian proposals.”

So that’s the story from Rio — victory in principles and standstill in practice.

Unfazed, Ms. Natarajan, briefing journalists accompanying the Prime Minister to the Rio+20 Conference, says India is now accepted as the leader of the developing countries.

But the NGOs and the European Union have been loudly grumbling that it has all been a gigantic waste of time. The draft of the declaration has left out too many things that were dear to them.

Later, Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai said India and China worked very closely on most issues during the negotiations. Mr. Mathai’s face lit up when he spoke of the bilateral meeting that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had with Chinese premier Wen Jiabao.

The meeting seems to have gone swimmingly. It lasted 10 minutes more than scheduled. As an aside a PMO official whispers that Dr. Singh was in a relaxed and expansive mood.

Among the other issues that the two discussed was Chinese investment in India, specifically in infrastructure. The Chinese premier, said Mr. Mathai, responded positively.

Dr. Singh also raised the Indian trade deficit. The Chinese premier said he understood the situation and would send a team to India to see what could be done.

On the transnational rivers issue, Dr. Singh asked for greater information sharing and transparency. The Chinese premier is believed to have indicated that it was a good idea.

In the end, the six-day trip by Dr. Singh — two at the G20, two at the Rio+20, 45,000 miles and 50 hours in the air — have perhaps yielded just that, a lot of hot air. Eurozone, said an official, would have been saved even without the G20. And Rio+20, Ms. Natarajan’s warm glow notwithstanding, has left the world exactly where it was before.

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