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Durban climate negotiations meet won’t be easy for India

According to reports, India could find itself in a tough spot at the UN-sponsored climate negotiations in Durban, especially on the question of the legal nature of the global effort to deal with the climate change.

At the pre-conference meeting this week, host South Africa made it clear that the Durban meet would find a “resolution” to the contentious issue of continuing with the Kyoto protocol beyond December 2012 and “agreeing” on the legal nature of a future climate change system.

With South Africa, which is a BASIC constituent, coming out in the open and declaring its willingness to link the Kyoto Protocol with a legal pact that covers all countries, India will be forced to deal with pressure not only from developed countries but also constituents of the developing country, G-77 and China.

India’s unequivocal objection to address the possibility and the legal nature of a global climate change agreement may find New Delhi isolated from the OPEC countries.

Experts say that a resolution of the legal form question may not be possible at Durban, especially with the US unwilling to make any big moves. With India continuing to take a hard position on the issue, it could mean that New Delhi would among those blamed for a less than successful outcome.

The tag of a “deal breaker” is a situation that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has sought to avoid. Many view India’s recent amended proposal to include unilateral trade measures, intellectual property rights and equitable access to sustainable development, in the provisional agenda of the meet is being seen as “obstructionist” and “hard line”.

This is because unlike the Chinese, who are willing to move forward provided that Washington reciprocates, India has made no provisional offers. Thereby closing the avenue for a mutually acceptable deal. Sources indicated that there is a general sense of disappointment with the “absence of flexibility in the Indian position”.

At Durban, the big political question will be to find a way forward to ensure that global effort to reduce emission is undertaken in a manner that is “balanced, fair and credible” which will “preserve and strengthen the multilateral rules-based response to climate change”.

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