‘If the developed world walks the talk, Paris will be through’

Siddharth Zarabi | Updated on January 22, 2018 Published on November 24, 2015

PRAKASH JAVADEKAR Environment Minister

Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar outlines India’s stance ahead of the global climate summit in France next week

Ahead of the crucial United Nations Climate Change Conference COP-21 in Paris, slated for November 30 to December 11, New Delhi stoutly refuted US Secretary of State John Kerry’s statement that India is a “challenge”, and claimed to be the facilitator. Speaking to Bloomberg TV India, Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar said Paris should produce an equitable and just climate agreement.

US Secretary of State John Kerry recently made remarks about India being a “challenge” in the upcoming climate negotiations. Is that really so? Are we a challenge?

No, we are not a challenge but a facilitator. John Kerry’s comment is unfair and untrue. And this shows that all is not well. They should not have said this. I strongly condemn this because this is unheard of. Without any cause if somebody creates a ruckus and if somebody provokes, it is bad.

What is India’s stance going to be at the Paris summit?

On behalf of 1.25 billion people of India, we are saying that Paris should produce an equitable and just climate agreement. What India has done (for making the climate talks a success) has been appreciated the world over through its Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) and NGO alliance. Prominently, NGOs, which otherwise oppose our government’s programme, have come out to say with the report that India has taken a more than its fair share — four times more than its fair share — while American and European countries have taken much lesser than their fare share.

There is a historical responsibility and they have already occupied the development space. So, to keep (global) temperature below 2 degrees we have only 3,000 giga tonnes of carbon space available, out of which 2,000 is already occupied by the developed world. So, now there are just 1,000 giga tonnes left for the next 85 years. So how do we do it? We will work on it and we must get the space. The developed world must vacate the carbon space to provide space for the developing world. I think, on technology and financial commitments — which the developed world has spoken about umpteen times — if they walk the talk, Paris will be through.

One of the points that you have made is that India will contest the proposed formulation that the contributor base must be enlarged and the recipient base for climate financers must be shrunk…

To say that the contributor’s base should be widened is denying the very existence of the historical responsibility principle. The world is helping each other in a bilateral way —India helps Bhutan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and many other neighbouring countries. So we are helping them but that’s our bilateral help and not part of the green climate fund of $100 billion because this amount has come out of historical responsibility.

Today we are experiencing a 0.8 degree temperature rise and that is affecting our monsoons, drought and flood cycle, glaciers, storms and hurricanes. If that is what we are experiencing, who is responsible for that? Of the cumulative emission of 150 years which is causing this temperature rise, 80 per cent is from the developed world and industrialised nations, 10 per cent from China and 3 per cent from India.

So India is not responsible for the problem but we want to be a part of the solution. And, therefore, we are coming with the positive proposal. But if somebody takes it lightly and somebody says that the donor base has to be widened, that is not done. China has promised $3 billion. That’s not for the $100-billion climate fund. They have promised it for South-South cooperation, which is a bilateral cooperation. The $100 billion has to come from the developed world as part of the historical responsibility for the present emissions.

In the past, you have said that India perhaps needs $2.5 trillion with regard to climate fund finance. Since you spoke about present emissions levels and the lack of commitment of the developed countries on finance and technology, will you continue to pursue that stance at the Paris meet?

Yes, we are raising our own resources at a major point. When we are fighting for finance, we are not doing it for India but for the cause. We are fighting for the developing world, for the least developed countries and small island countries. Our real fight is for technology support because we believe that technology is the answer for mitigating the climate challenge.

And, when the technologies are available, why are some countries sitting on it just for profits and why the restrictive practices? It should be open, it should be made available and accessible at an affordable cost and solutions can be found. Extraordinary situations require extraordinary thinking abilities. To fight HIV/AIDS, we have come out with solutions to provide cheaper drugs. Why can't we provide cheap technologies with same zeal and same innovation?

Given the fact that the current leadership of the US is now in the very last leg of its tenure and they will have an election soon, what are your expectations on striking a deal and a bargain at Paris? Will it be possible or will it be yet another conference where the developed world will refuse to change its stance?

French President François Hollande, who is a very genuine leader, has said if the developed world does not walk the talk Paris success is not certain and it can fail. This is not what Prakash Javadekar is saying. This is not what India is saying. This is what French President Hollande saying. So this is very important.

Hollande is cautioning the developed world. I hope that ultimately collective wisdom will prevail. We have made a lot of progress from Kyoto. Now 117 countries have submitted their INDCs. What more realisation of challenge do you want? People have shown their keenness. People are showing their willingness. But now they should be equipped with science and technology support.

Is an agreement therefore possible during this meet?

I have always been an eternal optimist. So I believe that there will be a solution. I hope they do not stretch it and will complete it in time because 140 leaders — heads of countries — are coming there on the very first day, November 30. So, when they gather there they will give that political push. We should work and the developed world needs to come in. As you were asking about the US, I don't want to comment on their internal politics, but the other party waiting in the wings does not believe in climate change. So what can we do?

We have a tremendous national consensus on our stance. I have met the leaders of Communist, Congress, Socialist, JDU and many other parties. I am meeting all parties in the next three days so that we have a consensus. Even today I met Jairam Ramesh and we talked good sense. I am discussing with think-tanks and experts and we are raising a consensus. NGOs are with us and we are all working together and talking together.

While you seem to have a consensus on climate change with all political parties, that doesn’t seem to be the case for the GST Bill ahead of the winter session. What’s your expectations on GST?

Like Paris, I also hope that collective wisdom will prevail. GST is not a BJP-Congress issue. It’s an issue of the nation. It is important for the GDP and economy and overall investment climate. Therefore, I hope all parties will support. It has been passed in the Lok Sabha but has to be passed in the Rajya Sabha.

I think it will happen in this session.

Published on November 24, 2015
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