Durban: After China showed its willingness to agree to legally binding emission cuts, India too indicated on Tuesday that it was “open” to all ideas at the climate talks but wanted more reassurances from the developed world before taking any further commitments.

Following China's announcement that it is willing to take conditional legally binding commitments after 2020, Durban is abuzz with talks of which direction would India take on the contentious issue that has stalled any progress in climate combating measures.

As the high-level segment of the climate change talks kick off, environment minister Mrs Jayanthi Natarajan stressed that she is looking for more reassurances from the developed world.

Mrs Natarajan also maintained there was no change in the position of the BASIC (Brazil, South Africa, India and China) group which forms the alliance of emerging economies.

“I have come to Durban with an open mind,” she said in response to the demand for a new legally-binding treaty being raised here by the European Union, Japan and other parties.

“But I would like to know whether it would be binding only for mitigation and whether it will be same for Annex-1 (developed) and non-Annex 1 countries (developing),” she said.

After joining the talks this week, Mrs Natarajan met top negotiators from the US, European Union and the BASIC alliance. “We are very optimistic that we will understand each others' positions,” she said.

Developments over the past week, however, indicate deep divisions between developed and developing nations that are yet to be bridged.

After losing out in last year's talks in Cancun, the Indian delegation insisted that negotiators here revisit its three-point agenda, which was submitted in the first week of the climate talks.

The agenda includes - equitable sharing of atmospheric carbon space, technology sharing and intellectual property rights (IPR) and unilateral trade barriers.

“Commitment for finance and technology, whether it will be present or not, how will equity figure in such an agreement, how will IPR be handled?”

Mrs Natarajan asked. Under the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, 37 developed countries have been placed under international legal obligations to reduce carbon emissions during a first commitment period, which expires next year.

Some countries like Japan and Canada are withdrawing from the treaty citing it ineffective because it leaves out the bulk of carbon emission produced by China, India and the United States, which has not ratified it.

The EU is willing to sign up for a second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol if emerging economies also agree to take binding carbon emissions cuts in the future. EU is also proposing a new track of negotiations that will place all countries under one legally-binding treaty, which the bloc wants to negotiate by 2015 so that it can come into force by 2020.

This is viewed by developing countries as an abandonment of the current negotiation tracks that have been agreed to by the governments in the past decade.

But now China has said it will consider signing up to such an instrument if developed world does its part in bringing down greenhouse gas emissions in this decade, and these efforts should be effective in controlling the problem.

“Could we reassure each other against unilateral actions in such a treaty? How will the ratification process of Kyoto Protocol be resolved and most importantly we at this time of our development we need to keep the imperatives of developing country in mind and the need to grow,” Mrs Natarajan said. Responding to accusations that India was being a spoiler, she said: “I don't perceive this as a correct perspective.” She, however, said: “Our development imperative is important.”

Mr Pa Ousman Jarju from Gambia, who represented the least developed countries, indicated that bloc agreed with India's three-point agenda in principle but there really isn't time for new discussions on the issues that New Delhi is pushing.

“We are in agreement with India but we cannot wait any longer. Everyone must do something,” he said. Mr Artur Runge-Metzger, from the EU, said that the present conference in Durban was not the right time to add new-agenda items to the current discussions.“That is overloading the process,” he said.

In 2005, developed countries promised to transfer complex technologies to developing countries free of cost to cope up with climate change. But in 2009 at Copenhagen, they failed to commit to such transfers citing the problematic intellectual property rights regime.

Mr Runge-Metzger also noted that the discussion on IPR had been carried out for more than a decade but no solution had been reached.

The European diplomat reiterated the continent's position that trade discussion should be taken up under the WTO and not the UN framework (UNFCCC).“Is the UNFCCC to do the work of the WTO?” he asked. “Is the intention of India to duplicate the work?”

Clear roadmap on tech transfer: Industry

Indian industry on Tuesday handed over its wishlist for the Durban climate talks to the government seeking clear roadmap for technology transfer and removal of barriers to trade from the global climate policy regime.

In letters to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan, FICCI has urged the government to ensure that the existing and new market mechanisms have the guiding principle of enhancing technology transfer and financing for mitigation projects.

"Technology transfer should be given high priority through a separate window under the Green Climate Fund, and also as a key component of the NAMAs and new market mechanisms," FICCI Secretary General Rajiv Kumar said in letters to Singh and Natarajan.

A CII delegation led by its past president Arun Bharat Ram met Natarajan in Durban today and emphasised that the 17th Conference of Parties should establish the second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol.

"We need a robust outcome to the Kyoto Protocol discussions so as to preserve the important principle of common but differentiated responsibilities," a CII release said.

CII believes that a balanced outcome from the Durban COP Round should include a clear commitment on both Financing and Technology transfer, which are very important enablers to ensure a smooth transition to a Low Carbon Economy, it said.

On the issue of financing, Ram said that the CII looked forward to immediate operationalisation of the Green Climate Fund which would facilitate investment in low carbon projects.

Such investments would provide a positive return on investment, he said.

FICCI also wanted technology transfer to be accounted for under the monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) obligations of the developed countries.

"The negotiations should address the removal of barriers to trade and ensure that provisions for Unilateral Trade Measures do not enter the realm of international climate policy regime," the FICCI said.

It also urged that India should not in any manner reverse its long standing position of not accepting any legally binding targets in the interest of industry and economy.

Noting that market based mechanisms were essential for effective engagement by industry, the FICCI said that India should urge clear cut signal for the markets from the Durban climate talks.