I write to you in connection with the editorial “India lost the plot at Durban” in The Hindu of 13th December 2011. What prompted me to write to you was the inaccurate assessment of the deliberations in Conference of Parties at Durban and the lack of appreciation in the editorial of India's important contribution towards a possible future arrangement on Climate Change.

At the outset, allow me to mention that to say that our delegation went without a positive mandate is far from the truth. On the contrary, we went with a clear focus to blunt the negative mandate of the developed countries and to contribute robustly to achieving the overall objective of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), while, at the same time, preserving the developmental space for India in the future. India was not only able to succeed in this quest but was also able to ensure that the developed countries took on a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, thereby not shirking their responsibility for taking the lead in mitigation efforts.

Further, a careful reading of the final Document will reveal that, contrary to what you have claimed in your editorial, India, due to our principled persistence, brought back the issue of equity to the centre-stage of the climate debate. A process has been set in motion to advance the understanding and relevance of this issue to the evolving climate change future arrangement. The fact that the future legal outcome would be under the UNFCCC would ensure that the current principles and provisions of UNFCCC would apply to the future arrangement as well, the most important of which is upholding the principle of Common But Differentiated Responsibilities and Respective Capabilities.

Our inclusion of a third option in the text i.e., “agreed outcome with legal force” effectively ensures that the developed country Parties do not pre-judge or predetermine the future arrangement and that the developing countries, including India, would be able to keep their options open and shape the contents of this outcome through negotiations. We managed to secure this outcome to the approbation of many developing countries.

Consequently, to say that India was isolated is again incorrect. The reality was that with India's principled and strong stand on preserving and indeed elaborating the provisions of UNFCCC, several developing countries supported us strongly. In fact, it was this groundswell of support for us that resulted in the European Union and their supporters relenting finally and including our amendment in the final text, thereby preserving our developmental agenda for at least another decade.

It is important that respected newspapers like yours understand the import of the contribution made by India in Durban COP in the right perspective. India has always contributed positively and has done more than its fair share, as has been brought out in several recent studies that the pledges till 2020 made by developing countries in Cancun in 2010 amount to more mitigation in absolute terms than developed countries. As your editorial notes, the climate change agenda of developed countries remains unambitious in scientific terms, while aiming to pass on the burden to the developing countries. We are here to ensure that this does not happen.

I would, therefore, request to you to direct your editorial team to “grasp the complexities” of what has happened from a more objective angle and present a balanced picture to your readers.

Jayanthi Natarajan,

Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Forests and Environment,

New Delhi

The Minister is entitled to her views but The Hindu stands by its critical editorial assessment of India's role in the Durban outcome. We believe our assessment was well informed and grasped the complexities and nuances of what happened from an independent and constructive standpoint.

Editor-in-Chief, The Hindu

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India lost the plot at DurbanDecember 13, 2011

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