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PM Manmohan Singh to attend Copenhagen summit on December 17

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will attend the Copenhagen summit on climate change on December 17, days after India announced that it would consider an emission cut of 20 to 25% by 2020, but would not be coerced into accepting unilateral cuts decided by developed countries. 

Till now, speculation was rife that Dr Singh would not attend the summit and that India would be represented by its minister of state for environment and forests Jairam Ramesh and the Prime Minister’s special envoy for climate change Shyam Saran. It was speculated last week that the Prime Minister had revealed that he would think of going if he thought the inking of a deal to reduce climate change was possible.

Earlier this week, Ramesh had said: “India will never accept a legally binding emission reduction agreement.”

Replying to a debate on climate change in Parliament, he further said: “There are some attempts by some countries that developing countries should announce when their emissions will peak. We will not sign a peaking year agreement. This is not acceptable. There is no question on compromising on these two non-negotiables but depends on the concessions we get from the international community.”

India on Thursday, however, announced its readiness to cut carbon emission intensity by 20 to 25% by 2020 on the 2005 levels through a number of policy measures that will include mandatory fuel efficiency standards.

The international community has been building pressure on India after US President Barack Obama and Chinese premier Wen Jiabao announced commitments to reduce emissions.

Ramesh said that India would not change its stand under international pressure.

“The entire world is monitoring China because it is the number one country, as far as the carbon emissions are concerned, they (Chinese) are under pressure from international community, but we will not change our stand under international pressure. We will adopt policy according to our national consensus,” he said.

Ramesh further said that India and China would work towards a common position in talks on a climate deal, but India should not be compared with tits neighbour.

“We are at the fifth spot in emission intensity rankings, our carbon emission is less than five percent, so we should not be compared with China, as far as carbon emission rate is concerned. But, both (India and China) are united as far as our negotiations are concerned. Both are developing nations, our interests and concerns are same and we can understand problems of each other. We are coordinating everyday, but we should not be compared with China,” he had said.

The United Nations is aiming for a comprehensive political agreement at climate talks in the Danish capital that start in little over a week.

The troubled talks have run out of time to settle a legally binding deal after rancorous arguments between rich and poor nations about who should cut emissions, by how much and who should pay.

New Delhi has so far refused to accept international legally binding emission reduction targets, though it is prepared to discuss and make public periodically the status of its domestic climate action.

Meanwhile, US President Barack Obama will attend the end of the climate change meeting rather than the beginning as originally planned, the White House announced Friday.

“Based on his conversations with other leaders and the progress that has already been made to give momentum to negotiations, the president believes that continued US leadership can be most productive through his participation at the end of the Copenhagen conference on December 18 rather than on December 9,” the White House said in a statement.

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