Change on climate: India ready to quantify cuts

In a significant shift in its stand ahead of the Copenhagen meeting, India has, for the first time, said reduction of its greenhouse gas emissions is as much a part of its climate change strategy as adaptation efforts, and that it is even ready to quantify the emission cuts it is prepared to take over a period of time.

The quantification — a big no-no until now— would, however, be only indicative, not absolute. The Indian Express has learnt that the government is even ready with a draft legislation to suggest "broadly indicative" pathways that it would like to take on carbon emissions.

New Delhi is, however, reiterating that the emissions reduction would not take the form of legally-binding targets, nor would it be imposed by any outside power. And it would, of course, not be at the cost of India's development priorities.

Rather, the emission cuts will be a result of a series of steps that the country has already initiated, or proposes to take, in the near future to improve its energy efficiency and shift to a more renewable energy-based economy.

"We are already taking a number of actions that will result in significant reductions of our greenhouse gas emissions. We are in a position to quantify these reductions into a broadly indicative number that can be shared with the rest of the world. I see no problem with that," Environment minister Jairam Ramesh told The Indian Express.

The assertion is at variance with India's long-held stand that its responsibility on fighting climate change was limited to adaptation. Mitigation, if any, had to be supported by international finance and enabled by transfer of technology from developed countries as laid out in the Bali Action Plan.

Mitigation, as a result of actions being taken under the National Action Plan on Climate Change, or other initiatives like getting automobiles to adhere to mandatory fuel-efficiency norms, was not meant to be quantified, and certainly not meant to be discussed at any international forum.

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