The Indian team for Warsaw climate negotiations was pared down by the Centre to 13 members, less than half that had negotiated on behalf of the country in 2012, limiting the human resources that would be available over the next two weeks to participate in dozens of parallel negotiations.

The decision was taken on Monday, days after some of the team members had already spent four to five days as part of the preparatory informal talks.

An Indian negotiator in Warsaw, requesting anonymity told The Hindu, “It will impair our ability to negotiate in the many parallel sessions that go on through the two weeks, which require constant engagement, but it is the decision now and we have to do with the team we have.”

Last year India had sent 28 negotiators to the annual UN climate negotiations drawing them from various ministries for their respective expertise. The annual two week talks cover exhaustive range of topics, ranging from agriculture, finance, reduction of emissions, specific sectors such as refrigeration industry, energy efficiency in buildings and urban development. The talks on several days go on for more than 18 hours a day and have had a history of running through the nights towards the end till a conclusion is reached.

Another Indian negotiator in Warsaw said, “You need the subject experts in place to understand the nuances of each line being argued. Consider the fact that China this year has more than 60 negotiators at Warsaw.”

Sources in the government said that the External Affairs and Environment Ministry had proposed a much smaller number of negotiators to begin with but there was a request to further curtail it. From the 15-member list recommended two more were dropped on Monday.

The source scorched rumours in Warsaw that the negotiator handling the controversial refrigeration gases issue had been asked at the last moment not to attend the talks. The source confirmed that the negotiator, who had been critical in articulating the Indian position on the topic of HFC gases in which the US government has shown strong political interest, would be at the Warsaw talks as well to negotiate.

Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan is slated to lead the delegation in Warsaw next week when the ‘high-level’ segment of the talks begins.