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Green stance draws flak

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By Our Special Correspondent
  • Published 11.12.14

New Delhi, Dec. 10: India has drawn flak from sections of environmental groups for opposing an international review of its statement of intended actions to curb growth of its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions ahead of a global climate change pact to be finalised in Paris next year.

Union environment and forests minister Prakash Javadekar told a UN climate change conference in Lima, Peru, that the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions, or INDCs, are to be "nationally-determined".

"We do not see any role for an ex-ante review in this process," Javadekar said in a statement at the ministerial segment of the conference where more than 190 countries are negotiating strategies to reduce the world's GHG emissions beyond 2020.

An ex-ante review, proposed by the European Union among other countries, will involve an international scrutiny of the INDCs from each country before they meet in Paris. The review will help determine whether the contributions that the developed and developing countries have pledged will be sufficient to avert a 2-degree rise in average global temperature or need to be upgraded to meet that goal.

The non-government Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) has decried India's opposition as "regressive", saying such a review would help ensure that equity and differential responsibilities are enshrined in the outcomes of climate change talks.

India and other developing countries have long argued that the developed countries, which have been longest polluters, have a greater (differential) responsibility to reduce emissions.

"India is neither supporting the (ex-ante) review nor proposing any alternative mechanism," said Chandra Bhushan, deputy director-general of the CSE who is in Lima as an independent non-government observer.

The CSE has said the INDCs by themselves do not guarantee fairness or adequacy. Without a review, the INDCs will also eliminate differentiation between the developed and developing countries as every country can decide its own domestic targets.

Environmental groups have said the ministers need to resolve several critical issues, including the rules for country pledges and a roadmap on finance to work towards a successful climate pact in Paris next year.

"At the moment, we run the risk of having to compare apples with oranges - if we don't clearly define what countries must include in their national climate commitments towards the new agreement due in Paris," said Sven Harmeling, a climate change advocacy coordinator with Care International, a humanitarian agency. "We must be able to compare pledges in a transparent, official assessment process, which must trigger further action."

A senior Indian analyst not associated with the negotiations said India wasn't the only country opposing the review. "The argument for this review is that it will allow countries to revise their pledges ahead of the Paris deadline," the analyst who requested not to be named told The Telegraph. "But an alternative is a post-Paris review followed by mid-course corrections."

Javadekar, in his speech, outlined India's actions to expand its solar energy targets five-fold from 20,000MW to 100,000MW within seven years, release $6 billion for growing forests that can work as sinks for GHG emissions, and support ultra-mega solar energy projects.

"But developing countries could do more if finance, technology support, and capacity building is ensured," Javadekar said.