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Friday, April 10, 2009

Statement by Special Envoy of the Prime Minister of India:Bonn Climate Talks

Dear Friends, representatives of the Media,

I welcome this opportunity to interact with you and to share with you our perspective on the ongoing multilateral negotiating process leading up to the 15th Conference of Parties in Copenhagen at the end of this year.

Let me begin by affirming categorically that India, as also other developing countries, have a vital stake in the successful conclusion of our multilateral negotiations. The reason is not far to seek. It is developing countries like India which would be most impacted by the adverse consequences of climate change. It is our prospects for social and economic development which would be significantly eroded if we fail to agree upon an effective global response to an urgent and compelling global challenge. Our response has to be collaborative. This would lead to an ambitious outcome which citizenry all over the world legitimately expects. It should not be aimed merely at reconciling competitive interests and positions. This would only deliver a least common denominator outcome.

We believe that the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change represents an international consensus arrived at after very protracted and complex negotiations. This must be the basis on which we pursue a successful outcome at Copenhagen. Yes, the situation today is different from 1992 when the Convention was concluded; but the situation is different only in the sense that it has made the implementation of the principles and provisions of the Convention more urgent and compelling, thanks to the heightened concerns over climate change. Which is why the Bali Action Plan reaffirmed the validity of the Convention and mandated us, as negotiators, to seek the enhanced implementation of the Convention with the 4 pillars- mitigation, adaptation, technology and finance as a comprehensive package, within an agreed shared vision of long term cooperative action. The Copenhagen outcome should be able to demonstrate clearly and unambiguously, that each of the decisions that it takes, conforms to the enhanced implementation of the specific provisions of the Convention as elaborated in the Bali Action Plan.

We believe that not only must the outcome at Copenhagen be ambitious, it must also be equitable. The principle of equity is a theme which underlies the entire body of the Framework Convention and cannot be set aside through appeals to selective emissions arithmetic, in particular the neglect of the principle of historical responsibility. The stress we lay on this consensus principle is sometimes misinterpreted as an avoidance of our own responsibility to contribute to tackling the challenge of climate change. As a developing country, we do have a responsibility, which is to pursue ecologically sustainable development. We take our responsibilities very seriously and this is evident from the fact that in the past decade, we have delivered 9% annual growth in our GDP with only 4% annual increase in our energy use.

To ensure that climate change is one of the top priority items on our national agenda, the Prime Minister has set up, under his own Chairmanship, a multi-sectoral and multi-disciplinary Council on Climate Change. It is under the guidance of this Council that India has adopted an ambitious and comprehensive National Action Plan on Climate Change with 8 National Missions covering both mitigation and adaptation and has a significant R&D and technology development component. These Missions are being elaborated through a process of wide ranging consultations among all major stakeholders and are likely to be unveiled shortly. With the implementation of these National Missions, India would have significantly enhanced its own sustainable development strategies.

India is not waiting for external support in pursuing its sustainable development objectives. However, there is no doubt that a supportive and equitable climate change regime would enable us to significantly scale up our own efforts.

We are participating actively and constructively in the ongoing multilateral negotiations. This is in our interest. We have suggested a number of cooperative initiatives and sought to promote consensus on some of the key issues still outstanding in the negotiations. We are encouraged that our proposal to set up a network of Climate Innovation Centres to accelerate the development, dissemination and transfer of key climate relevant technologies, has received broad support from both developed and developing countries. India has contributed to the articulation of an effective architecture which can respond to the ongoing challenge of adaptation to climate change, an issue as important as mitigation, particularly for developing countries. And we have also contributed to the ongoing deliberations on financing, by contributing ideas on how best to mobilize the resources required for dealing with climate change as well as the institutional and governance mechanism this requires. These and other contributions by India may be accessed on the web-site of the UNFCCC.

We have only a few months left in which we must come up with concrete and significant decisions to be adopted by the 15th COP. The progress achieved so far has been disappointing from our perspective. We still have no clear indication about the emission reduction targets which our developed country parties are ready to commit to. There is still no clarity over the scale of financial and technological resources that would be available to developing countries to enable them to meet the additional burden imposed by adaptation and also to meet the full incremental costs of nationally appropriate mitigation actions. Nevertheless, we are optimistic that sooner rather than later, a sense of shared challenge and a collaborative spirit will inform our subsequent deliberations as we write the final and decisive chapter of what could become an epic and historic journey towards Copenhagen. Leaving the chapter unfinished is not really an option in the face of an escalating challenge for humanity.

Shyam Saran


Forget yourself for others, and others will never forget you.

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