India’s Shifting Approach on Climate Change

India’s Shifting Approach on Climate Change

NEW DELHI -- Emerging differences within the Indian government regarding whether to adopt a more flexible approach to climate change negotiationscame to a boil recently, when the prime minister's special envoy on climate change, Shyam Saran, quit his post.

Until now, Saran -- who has been leading India's negotiations at international forums, including Copenhagen -- opposed efforts by Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh to soften India's line on climate change methodology. Indian media have been highlighting the disagreements between Ramesh and Saran, which center around Ramesh's attempts to update India's basic principle of per capita emissions norms to define burden-sharing between developed and developing nations in efforts to reduce greenhouse gases.

Referred as "per capita plus," Ramesh's approach calls for India to assume more domestic responsibilities with regard to emission cuts, in order to make its stance more palatable to Western nations. Saran has questioned Ramesh's line of thinking in the past, arguing that per capita emission principal is the only basis for equitable burden sharing. For Saran, diluting the per capita principle in determining necessary efforts for cutting emissions today amounts to letting developed countries off the hook for their historical emissions. Saran and Ramesh have also differed about the need for enforcing strict domestic legal statutes, with Saran instead proposing a fiscal regime that facilitates clean energy.

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