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Wed, 24 September 2014 11:25:01
India hails Copenhagen climate accord
22 Dec, 2009 23:33:27
NEW DELHI, December 22, 2009 (AFP) - India hailed Tuesday a lack of targets and legally binding measures in the Copenhagen climate accord and praised the united front presented by major emerging countries at the chaotic talks.
Facing parliament for the first time since the UN talks last weekend in the Danish capital, Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh said India had "come out quite well in Copenhagen".

He listed for lawmakers what he said were a series of accomplishments, including the thwarting of moves to impose binding targets for global reductions in carbon emissions -- something India has always rejected.

"We can be satisfied that we were able to get our way on this issue," declared Ramesh, who has consistently said India would be one of the countries hardest hit by climate change.

India and other emerging nations such as China say binding emissions caps would brake its economic growth and Ramesh said he had gone to Copenhagen to defend India's developmental goals.

"My mandate was to protect India's right to faster economic growth," said Ramesh, who had been under pressure from Indian lawmakers not to make any concessions to wealthy nations at the talks.

The final accord in Copenhagen, put together by the major emerging and developed countries, has been panned by critics and climate change campaigners for being a weak political statement that is short on specifics.

India has stuck rigidly to its insistence that rich countries, which are responsible historically for global warming, should bear the burden of mitigating the future problem.

Prior to Copenhagen, India pledged to reduce the emission intensity of its economy by 20-25 percent by 2020 from 2005 levels -- on a voluntary and non-binding basis.

India's per capita output is one of the lowest globally as much of the country is without power, but it is still in volume terms among the top five carbon emitters in the world.

The Copenhagen agreement set a commitment to limit global warming to two degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit). But it did not spell out key stepping stones -- global emissions targets for 2020 or 2050 -- for getting there.

Pledges are also voluntary.

Ramesh later told a news conference the accord was "unlikely to save humanity" in the short-term.

"It is a very, very small step" toward slowing global warming, he said.

Ramesh said Brazil, South Africa, India and China -- the so-called BASIC countries -- had worked as a bloc throughout the meeting in the face of fierce pressure from rich countries.

"Within the BASIC group, India and China worked very, very closely together," Ramesh said. "The BASIC group has emerged as a powerful force in climate change negotiations."

The BASIC countries met in Beijing to stake out their common position before the Copenhagen meeting.

Ramesh said India would continue to work with its allies "to ensure that the interests of developing countries and India in particular are protected in the course of negotiations in 2010 and beyond".

He was critical of Denmark's role as host country.

"From day one, an impression gained ground that a cabal was going to dictate the terms as far as the Copenhagen meeting was concerned," said Ramesh.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon has pressed world leaders to achieve a global legally binding climate change treaty in 2010. Mexico will host the next annual UN ministerial talks next December.

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