According to reports, the government endorsed the mandate sought by Union environment minister Jayanthi Natarajan for negotiating at the Durbanclimate talks on Thursday. Natarajan will reach Durban on Saturday armed with the power to take decisions based on her strong stance on equity in the climate talks.
Natarajan, as reported by TOI on Wednesday, had asked the cabinet to approve a mandate to push three agenda on the Durban climate talks – equity, intellectual property resources and trade barriers. She had also recommended that keeping historical responsibilities of developed nations in mind, India should ensure that a new single global treaty be discussed only after 2015, providing atmospheric space to develop.
Natarajan was lauded by finance minister Pranab Mukherjee for presenting a comprehensive note to the Cabinet and explaining the background to her position and the state of play at the Durban talks.
While the talks had already begun on Monday, Natarajan will reach Durban in time to lead India in the ministerial level week starting next week.
In the Cabinet meeting on Thursday, Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia recommended that India not depend on the principle of historical emissions in negotiations and instead look at the current scenario alone. The principle is based on the fact that developed world is responsible for most of the accumulated greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and should therefore do the maximum to resolve the problem – including cutting their emissions drastically and supporting the developing world with finance and technology as reparation.
But HRD minister Kapil Sibal, commerce minister Anand Sharma and urban development minister Kamal Nath contested Ahluwalia’s recommendations noting that the US had done little and provided little space to developing world or India in the negotiations and only sought more in each round of talks off them. Sibal had lead the Indian delegation in 2009 as science and technology minister and got the principles of equity and historical emissions embedded to a large extent in the climate talks then.
Union rural development minister Jairam Ramesh was of the view that the environment minister should show flexibility at the talks including on the three items India has proposed in the agenda much against the wishes of the developed world. But it was pointed out at the Cabinet meeting that the three critical issues of equity, IPR regimes and unilateral trade barriers were revived and pushed back onto the international climate talks agenda during his tenure as environment minister.
While the Cabinet approved the note, Mukherjee recommended that Natarajan act with latitude and flexibility at the talks depending on emerging circumstances and that she could take any decisions on any new situations in consultations with the Prime Minister if needed.