New Delhi: Days after the Durban Climate Summit, Government on Friday insisted that India has agreed to no legally-binding commitments to reduce its emissions in absolute terms in 2020.
Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan told Parliament that India has already announced a domestic mitigation goal of reducing the emissions intensity of its output by 20-25 percent by 2020 in comparison with 2005 level.
"This goal is relative in nature and allows India’s emissions to grow as the economy grows," she said in identical suo motu statements in both Houses.
She insisted that the decision of the Durban meet "does not imply that India has to take binding commitments to reduce its emissions in absolute terms in 2020."
India successfully resisted move by some countries led by the European Union to delete the option relating to ‘legal outcome’ which was originally mooted by India, she said, adding India had in turn suggested a similar expression "agreed outcome with legal force" which found acceptance with all the Parties.
"The post 2020 arrangements, when finalized, may include some aspirational CoP (Conference of Parties') decisions, binding CoP decisions, setting up of new institutions and bodies, and new protocols or other legal instruments as necessary to implement the decisions covering various issues with various degrees of binding-ness as per domestic or international provisions of law under the Convention," she said.
"India has already announced a domestic mitigation goal of reducing the emissions intensity of its output by 20-25 percent by 2020 in comparison with 2005 level. This goal is relative in nature and allows India’s emissions to grow as the economy grows," the Environment Minister said.
Noting that India's National Action Plan on Climate Change is designed to meet this objective, Natarajan said further steps to implement a strategy that will meet this domestic goal are being taken as part of implementation of the 12th Five Year Plan.
She said India ensured that the new arrangements in 2020 are established under the Convention and this will ensure that the principles and provisions of the Convention will continue to apply to the arrangements to be developed.
"India will negotiate the nature of agreed outcome strictly in accordance with the principle of equity and common but differentiated responsibility as provided under the Convention," she said.
The Durban decision mandates that the ‘outcome’ has to be agreed by all parties before it is implemented through legal arrangements having force.
"The decision allows India the necessary flexibility over the choice of appropriate legal form to be decided in future. This choice will be guided by our national development imperatives and the principles of the Convention," she said.
Natarajan said the Durban Conference has decided to launch Durban Platform for conducting negotiations on the arrangements for a future protocol or a legal instrument or an agreed outcome with legal force, to be finalized no sooner than 2015 and to be implemented not later than 2020.
"The new arrangements will be designed under the existing Convention and will hence, be subject to the relevant principles and provisions of the Convention including the principles of equity and the Common But Differentiated Responsibilities (CBDR)," Natarajan said.
Maintaining that India has followed a clear, consistent and compassionate strategy to the climate change negotiations, the Environment Minister said the decisions taken in the conference have implications not only for the protection of global environment but also for the country's sustainable growth.
The key aim of the Durban conference was to complete the ongoing work as per the Bali Road Map, Natarajan said.
At Bali in 2007, it had been decided that the implementation of the Convention will be enhanced by a series of steps on finance, technology, adaptation and mitigation.
At the same time, it had been decided that the Parties to Kyoto Protocol will finalize their targets for second commitment period commencing from 2013, she said.
"The Durban Conference has established the second commitment period for the developed countries that are Party to Kyoto Protocol. The targets have been decided through a decision in Durban. These targets will now be converted into actual emission limits in 2012 at the next session of the parties in Qatar," she said.
"A time frame of 5 years till 2017 has been given to the Kyoto Protocol Parties for ratification of the targets and the emission limits," the Minister said, India is fully conscious of the immense responsibility that the Durban decisions have now placed on it.