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Extracts from interventions by Dr R Chidambaram, Principal Scientific Advisor to the Government of India and Leader of the Indian delegation at 2nd Major Economies Meeting

January 31, 2008

Contribution of MEM to UNFCCC negotiations

There is a clear consensus here that we must sculpt our ideas and proposals on climate change within the provisions and principles of the Framework Convention. I would like to recommend strongly that the spirit of common but differentiated responsibilities as in the Framework Convention must pervade all our sessions. I am saying this because the annotations for the remaining four sessions today and tomorrow make me uneasy as they do not emphasize the special need to support developing countries. There has to be a clear understanding that developing countries have small individual carbon footprints and their overriding priority has to remain poverty eradication and addressing adaptation. 

The Bali Action Plan is about long term cooperative action to enable full, effective and sustained implementation of the Framework Convention. This group of large economies representing both developed and developing countries should be able to discuss issues of relevance to both but within the clearly identified building blocks and other details negotiated at Bali without suggestions for additions, including on competitiveness etc., which are the subject matter of discussions elsewhere.

An absolutely clear imperative is that developed countries walk the talk on GHG reductions. Developing countries are playing a part in the international action on mitigation especially through the flexibility mechanisms of the Kyoto Protocol. Developing countries, I must add including India, are also taking nationally appropriate action on mitigation. 

The major economies process is well placed to contribute to the building block of technology with both its components. If knowledge is already available and technology is already developed, it should be transferred to the developing countries. If the process of knowledge generation is still on, there should be scientific and technological cooperation between the developed and developing countries and in this India will be more than happy to contribute. 

There have been suggestions on setting standards “benchmarks” for various technology sectors. Such benchmarking would be premature for developing countries – smaller players have to catch up. Moreover, we should not put the cart before the horse. If technologies are transferred properly, standards would automatically be achieved.

Interestingly, the prospect of rapid depletion of fossil fuels are now driving the global development of energy related technologies like renewables, efficiency and nuclear. Development of each technology is complex. There is need for closing the nuclear fuel cycle. The response to climate change needs to be technology based and discussion on technology is necessary here as these are the some of the important mitigation technologies in the context of climate change too. 

Long Term Goal

The setting of any such goal needs to be realistic, apart from being based on a scientific consensus at a far higher spatial level than the IPCC and takes into account, historical cumulative emissions, per-capita emissions and the sustainable development needs of developing countries and be guided by Article 2 of the UNFCCC in its entirety.

The issue of a long term goal is, however, linked to issues of equity. We believe that an equal per-capita entitlement to equal sustainable development is unassailable to ensure fairness and recognition that the earth’s atmosphere is our common heritage to which all of us have an equal claim. Our Prime Minister has said that we are determined that our per-capita emissions will not exceed those of developed countries even as we pursue growth and development. This offer is, of course, a challenge to us but it also throws up a challenge to the developed countries and requires sharing of technology. We are glad that Germany, France and the UK have accepted the importance of convergence in per-capita emissions for developing countries and developed countries. We would be happy to work with like-minded countries to develop this paradigm in a manner that also ensures accelerated growth and empowerment in the developing countries.