Minister seeks unconditional CO2 curbs for India

NEW DELHI Mon Oct 19, 2009 3:00am EDT

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India's environment minister has urged the prime minister to take on carbon emission reductions under a new global deal without insisting on finance and technology from rich nations, a report said on Monday.

The Times of India said Jairam Ramesh wrote to Manmohan Singh last week outlining a shift in India's traditional position in global climate negotiations.

India has said developing countries should not be asked to commit to emissions reductions without finance and technology from rich nations since they are largely to blame for most of mankind's greenhouse gas pollution to date.

The letter said India needed to break away from championing the Group of 77 developing nations at negotiations and be "embedded" with the richer G20 camp for a greater global role.

If accepted, this could break the unity among the developing countries and bring on board the world's fourth largest emitter in a global deal to fight climate change.

The United Nations has set a December deadline for a deal to be agreed during a major climate meeting in the Danish capital Copenhagen.

"The position we take on international mitigation commitments only if supported by finance and technology needs to be nuanced simply because we need to mitigate in self-interest," the newspaper quoted Ramesh as writing to Singh.

Mitigation is U.N.-speak for actions that lead to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

India, China and other big developing nations fear they will be hit hardest by climate change because of their large populations and say it's in their national interest to try to limit the impacts of more extreme droughts, floods, rising seas and melting glaciers that feed major river systems.

India, Asia's third-largest economy, has been busy rolling out a series of voluntary emissions reduction actions.

"We should be pragmatic and constructive, not argumentative and polemical," the minister was quoted as saying in the letter.

The daily said Ramesh wrote that "India must listen more and speak less in negotiations."

Calls to Ramesh's office by Reuters to confirm the letter's contents were not returned.

HUGE GAP

Many countries are unwilling to commit to cuts before knowing the position of the United States where legislators are unlikely to pass laws governing a national emissions cap-and-trade system until next year.

A huge gap also exists between rich countries reluctant to pay the fiscal and lifestyle costs of deep cuts in their emissions, and developing states who say they must be allowed to increase emissions so their economies can catch up. Ramesh told Reuters on Friday a deal might miss the December deadline by several months.

Negotiations have stumbled on a lack of clarity on the amount, sources and management of any climate funds.

Though India has so far resisted talk of outside monitoring of compliance with emissions pledges, the newspaper said Ramesh had suggested overturning that stand.

Experts say uncompensated climate action could impact India's economic growth, prompting price rises, lower production and lead to higher unemployment. But others point to the need for industries to become more efficient to ensure they can compete globally.

(Editing by David Fogarty)

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