India warns against protectionism under a green label

Port-of-Spain, Nov 28 ( Amid growing pressure from developed countries to accept carbon curbing targets, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Friday pushed for “an ambitious, substantive and equitable outcome” at the UN summit on climate change but warned developed countries against pursuing “protectionist policies under a green label”.

In a strong message barely ten days before the Cophenhagen conference, Manmohan Singh said it was “unfortunate that the global discourse on climate change has become enmeshed with arguments about maintaining economic competitiveness or level playing fields”.

“Climate Change is becoming the pretext for pursuing protectionist policies under a green label. This would be contrary to the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) and a violation of the WTO (World Trade Organisation) as well,” he said.

“India and other developing countries will strongly resist this,” Manmohan Singh said in his intervention at the special session on climate change at the 53-nation Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting.

Pushing for “a global and a collaborative response,” Manmohan Singh pushed for “an ambitious, substantive and equitable outcome” at the Dec 7-18 UN summit on climate change.

He said: “India has repeatedly emphasised the need for the Copenhagen outcome to be comprehensive, balanced and above all, equitable.”

Explaining India’s negotiating stance, the prime minister asked developed countries to resist “a partial outcome” and pushed for a legally binding instrument based on core principles of the UNFCCC and the 2007 Bali Action Plan.

“It must be comprehensive in the sense that it must cover all the inter-related components of mitigation, adaptation, finance and technology. This means we should resist a partial outcome,” he said at the summit meeting.

“Furthermore, there must be balance and equal priority given to each of the four components,” he said.

“And most important from our perspective, is the need to ensure an equitable outcome corresponding to the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities,” the prime minister said.

The prime minister repeatedly placed equity at the centre of international negotiations on climate change.

“India is willing to sign on to an ambitious global target for emissions reductions or limiting temperature increase but this must be accompanied by an equitable burden sharing paradigm,” he said.

Amid pessimism among some countries about the outcome of the Cophenhagen conference, the prime minister said: “Our view is that we should not pre-empt the Copenhagen negotiating process.”

“Whatever time is still available to us before the High Level Segment meets from Dec 16, should be used to achieve as much convergence as possible,” he said.

“If the consensus is that only a political document is feasible then we must make certain that the post-Copenhagen process continues to work on the Bali mandate and the UNFCCC continues to be the international template for global climate action,” he said.

He went on to say that “the attempts by some countries to dispense with the Kyoto Protocol altogether has generated avoidable misgivings and has been strongly resisted by all developing countries without exception.”

“We hope that a legally valid instrument to which we too are parties, will not be set aside in a cavalier manner. This will undermine credibility in any future legally binding instrument.”

In his separate bilateral talks with French President Nicolas Sarkozy and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown on the sidelines of the Commonwealth summit, Manmohan Singh also stressed emphatically that India has a major stake in the success of the Cophenhagen conference.

The prime minister told the British and French leaders that it was in India’s interests to see a successful outcome at Cophenhagen, external affairs ministry spokesperson Vishnu Prakash said.

They all agreed on the need for a balanced, ambitious and equitable outcome at the Cophenhagen conference, Prakash said.

Elaborating on India’s position, the prime minister informed about a slew of unilateral and voluntary actions taken by India to curb greenhouse gas emissions and alluded to the national action plan on climate change.

Manmohan Singh reiterated the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities of developed and developing countries for curbing carbon emissions and stressed on the transfer of technologies and resources to enable developing countries to combat climate change.