India against trade barriers on environmental grounds

Vishwanath Kulkarni New Delhi | Updated on June 16, 2011

India has strongly opposed any unilateral trade measures (UTMs) such as tariff and non-tariff measures by developed countries seeking to combat climate change.

It wants a specific prohibition of use of any UTMs by developed countries on environmental grounds. UTMs include tariff, non-tariff and other fiscal and non-fiscal border trade measures that may be taken by developed countries against goods and services from developing countries.

India has proposed the inclusion of UTMs as an additional item in the provisional agenda of the 17th Conference of Parties (COP 17) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to be held at Durban later this year.

Besides, it has also proposed inclusion of the accelerated access to critical mitigation and adaptation technologies and related intellectual property rights (IPRs) and equitable access to sustainable development on COP 17's provisional agenda.

“Parties should expressively prohibit use of UTMs on environmental grounds as they will have negative environmental, social and economic consequences for developing countries and will compromise the principles and provisions of the Convention,” India said in an explanatory note on the proposed additional agenda.

At Cancun last year, countries had agreed to promote a supportive and open international economic system. They had decided that measures taken to combat climate change including unilateral ones should not constitute a means of arbitrary or unjustifiable discrimination or a disguised restriction on international trade.

Last April, countries such as Italy and France had urged European Union to consider a carbon tax imports from developing countries.

India believes that recourse to UTMs on any grounds related to climate change, including protection and stabilisation of climate, emissions leakage and or cost of environmental compliance would be tantamount to passing mitigation burden onto developing countries.

“This would clearly contravene the fundamental principles and provisions of equity, common but differentiated responsibility,” India said.

Further, India felt that an effective and efficient global regime for accelerated access to IPRs of critical climate friendly technologies is essential for the global efforts for development, deployment, dissemination and transfer of such technologies.

“In the absence of such an arrangement, the objective of advancing the nationally appropriate mitigation and adaptation actions at the scale and speed warranted by the Convention cannot be met effectively and adequately,” India said.

The Conference of Parties should urgently decide on addressing the issue of treating and delivering climate technologies and their IPRs as public good in the interest of global goal of early climate stabilisation, India said.

Published on June 16, 2011

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