Cancun, Mexico — ESI-AFRICA.COM — 10 December 2010 – India has bolstered troubled United Nations climate talks by eventually agreeing that it could commit to legally binding emissions reduction targets, in a major shift in the government’s stance.
India is the world’s No. 3 greenhouse gas polluter after the United States and China, and rapid economic growth and consumption are driving up production of planet-warming carbon dioxide from coal-fired power plants, transport and industry.
Nevertheless, the Indian government has long insisted it will not accept binding emissions reduction targets in any new climate deal, because to do so would harm the economy and stall its aim to lift millions out of poverty.
Now environment minister Jairam Ramesh, speaking on the sidelines of U.N. climate talks here, said it was time to shift India’s stance by accepting the need for binding cuts as part of a new legally binding climate pact. “We have to accept the changing global reality,” he added.
"I have just said that all countries must agree to binding commitments in an appropriate, legally binding form.”
Last year’s climate talks in Copenhagen ended with a non-binding accord, instead of a new treaty to succeed the U.N.’s Kyoto Protocol from 2013.
The long-running U.N. negotiations have stalled over disagreement between rich and poor nations over how much to cut greenhouse gas emissions and how to share the burden in any new agreement.
Developing nations have said they should not take on legally binding cuts when rich nations need to do more, and that the rich are responsible for most of the greenhouse gas pollution over the past two centuries.
Talks on a deal to slow global warming were on a knife edge yesterday, and Japan expressed guarded hopes of ending the dispute between rich and poor about curbing greenhouse gas emissions.