After hint of change, India sings old climate tune

NEW DELHI Tue Oct 20, 2009 6:59pm IST

India's Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh speaks during a national conference with ministers of environment and forests in New Delhi in this August 2009 file photo. REUTERS/B Mathur/Files

India's Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh speaks during a national conference with ministers of environment and forests in New Delhi in this August 2009 file photo.

Credit: Reuters/B Mathur/Files

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NEW DELHI (Reuters) - The government reiterated on Tuesday its refusal to reduce carbon emissions under any new global deal to fight climate change, a day after the environment minister was reported to have pushed for New Delhi to accept emission curbs.

An Indian newspaper had said Jairam Ramesh wrote to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh urging him to accept curbs on its rising carbon emissions without insisting they should hinge on new finance and technology from rich nations.

While such a possibility was seen by Western negotiators as potentially helping in getting agreement on a global deal in Copenhagen in December, Ramesh was accused in the Indian media and by opposition political parties of hurting the interests of India. But Ramesh said on Tuesday India not going to accept internationally legally binding emission reduction targets, though it was prepared to discuss and make public periodically the status of its domestic climate action.

He said India still expected rich nations to fulfil their commitment to give developing countries finance and technology to fight climate change.

"India will agree to consider international measurement, reporting and verification (MRV) of its mitigation actions only when such actions are enabled and supported by international finance and technology," Ramesh said in a statement.

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

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 which say they must be allowed to increase emissions so their economies can catch up.

India champions the G77 bloc of developing nations that say they should not be asked to commit to emissions curbs without finance and technology from rich nations since the latter are largely to blame for most of mankind's carbon pollution to date.

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

"India is working, and will continue to work, closely with our partners in the G77 and China in articulating a common position on this issue, while also engaging with other countries to our benefit," the statement said.

"I have never at any stage considered or advocated abandoning the fundamental tenets of the Kyoto Protocol."

The U.N.'s Kyoto Protocol, the first phase of which ends in 2012, obliges 37 rich nations to cut emissions by an average of five percent below 1990 levels by 2008-12.

Reinforcing India's position, Ramesh said at a separate meeting of South Asian environment ministers that the regional countries had resolved in a "single voice" against abandoning the Kyoto protocol or the U.N. framework on climate change as a negotiating position.

Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Singh said global climate efforts had gathered momentum.

"However, there are concerted attempts by the developed countries to impose new obligations on developing countries like India to limit emission of greenhouse gases."

(Editing by Jerry Norton)

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