India's climate change negotiating team will consist of only serving government officials from now on, if Union Minister of State for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh has his way.
In recent years, retired civil servants have been key negotiators in international climate change talks, with the former diplomat, Chandrasekhar Dasgupta, and the former Environment Secretary, Prodipto Ghosh, seen as the most experienced members of the team.
Mr. Ramesh has made no secret of his disagreements with the approach of these two, and it was only after some internal drama that both of them were included on the delegation at the UN climate summit in Copenhagen last year.
“Look at any other national negotiating team. Look at the Doha [WTO] team. Do any of them include retired officials?” asked Mr. Ramesh, speaking to reporters on Tuesday.
“Only serving officials can represent India…Retired officials can always provide advice if needed.”
Accordingly, the team at last week's Bonn negotiations was headed by Environment Secretary Vijai Sharma and included four more officials from the Environment and External Affairs Ministry. At the next major meeting, the Major Emitters Forum, the Minister intends to be the sole representative himself.
Over the past year, Mr. Ramesh has sought a larger role for the Ministry in the international negotiations, positioning himself as the leading player on the Indian team. Earlier, the Prime Minister's Special Envoy on Climate Change, till recently a position held by diplomat Shyam Saran, was seen as a key negotiator.