India will insist upon the principle of ‘equity and common but differentiated responsibilities’ at next week’s climate talks in Madrid, Spain. In simpler terms, it means that while all countries should do their best to fight global warming, developed countries – with deeper pockets, who were primarily responsible for the climate mess – should take a bigger share of the burden than the developing and under-developed countries.

“India's approach will be guided by principles and provisions of UNFCCC and the Paris Agreement, particularly, the principles of Equity and Common But Differentiated Responsibilities and Respective Capability (CBDR-RC),” a press release of the Government of India, issued today, said.

The Indian delegation to the climate talks – COP25 – will be led by Prakash Javadekar, the Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change.

Read also: Cabinet approves stand that India will take at COP25

The release says that the developed countries should take the lead in undertaking ambitious actions and fulfil their climate finance commitments of mobilising $100 billion a year by 2020. The developed countries, the release says, should also “substantially scale-up their financial support” and disclose the enhanced support, so that the developing countries could draw up their action plans.

“India will further stress upon the need for fulfilling pre-2020 commitments by developed countries and that the pre-2020 implementation gaps should not present an additional burden to developing countries in the post-2020 period,” the release says. The year 2020 is a milestone, when the Paris Agreement of 2015 comes into force, and accordingly, all countries should start fulfilling the commitments (called Nationally Determined Contributions, of NDCs) they made at Paris.

The ‘pre-2020 period commitments’ refers to the promises made by the developed countries under the Kyoto Protocol — developing countries faced no binding commitments under the protocol.

The release also highlights two climate action initiatives of India – the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure, which will serve as a platform to generate and exchange knowledge on different aspects of climate and disaster resilient infrastructure and 'Leadership Group for Industry Transition' launched jointly by India and Sweden, which will provide a platform for government and the private sector in different countries to work together on accelerating low carbon growth and cooperation in the area of technology innovation.

What the COP25 is all about

Between December 2 and 13, some 194 countries of the world will meet in the Spanish capital of Madrid for the climate conference called “COP25”. The abbreviation ‘COP’ expands as ‘Conference of Parties’ and here the word ‘parties’ refers to the countries that were parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). These ‘parties’ generally meet every year and next week’s meeting will be the Silver Jubilee conference.

The Paris Agreement that was signed by all countries (and since ratified by the required number of countries) was hammered out in the 21st COP, in 2015. In that agreement, all countries agreed upon a common target of “2 degrees Celsius” – they resolved not to allow the world to warm more than 2 degrees over the average temperatures that existed in the pre-industrialisation period of the mid 19th century. To limit global warming to not more than 2 degrees, all countries brought in their own action plans — NDCs — and pledged to walk the talk. They also agreed that the developed countries should mobilise funds for the developing countries to undertake climate-action projects — but neither any quantum of funds nor the nature of such funds was specified. In general, it was agreed that the developed countries would provide technology and that all countries would sit for a review of the status once in five years – called ‘global stocktake’ – and would “raise ambition”.

The two meetings that followed – COP 22 (Marrakesh, Morocco), COP23 (Bonn, Germany) and 24 (Katowice, Poland) – involved discussions about framing rules for implementing the Paris Agreement. In Madrid, the effort would be to get the ‘Paris rulebook’ all done and dusted so that all rules are in place for the agreement to kick-in.