India may drop per capita stand

India may abandon its ‘per capita’ stance in the debate on equity in the global carbon space debate, according to Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh.

“Per capita is one option,” he told reporters on the sidelines of the Delhi Sustainable Development Summit here on Sunday.

India will host an international workshop in May to discuss other options and come up with a formula to ensure fair burden sharing in the reduction of future greenhouse gas emissions. Such a formula is essential before India agrees to any legally binding climate change treaty, he said.

So far, ‘per capita’ has formed the cornerstone of India’s stance in this debate, with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh himself outlining the position at several international fora. India’s argument is that while the country has the fifth largest annual emissions in the world in gross terms, when divided by the huge population and considered in per capita terms, it falls to the 120th ranking. Thus India has promised to never exceed the per capita emissions figure of developed countries, while reserving the right to increase gross emissions as the economy grows.

However, Mr. Ramesh is now indicating that New Delhi may change its stand. “We have a good formula for the past stock of emissions,” he said, explaining that developed nations bear the historical responsibility for 200 years of emissions since the industrial revolution and must pay the price in terms of emission cuts, technological and financial assistance to poorer countries.

Differentiated responsibility

When it comes to the “flow of emissions” however, in terms of present and future emissions, it is yet to be determined how the principle of “common but differentiated responsibility” must be applied, he said.

“Those who have contributed most to the stock [that is, developed nations] are not those who will contribute most to the flow...that is, India, China, Brazil, South Africa,” he pointed out.

In such a situation, there has to be more than rhetoric about equity; it must be defined in operational terms, he said.

India has commissioned a study by economist Arvind Subramanian on the various options available, to be completed by the end of April. It will also take into account the work of other economists such as Jeffrey Sachs, Michael Spence and Jeffrey Frankel, said Mr. Ramesh. India will have its formula ready before the next UN climate change negotiations in May at Bonn

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Printable version | Sep 19, 2021 4:17:57 AM |

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