Durban diary- snippets from the United Nations climate change conference in Durban, South Africa. India demanded more reassurance from developed countries at the climate change conference in Durban. The poor could not be expected to be legally bound to reduce their emissions when they are practically non-existent, a government minister said.

INDIA’S environment minister Jayanthi Natarajan refuted accusations that India was becoming a deal-breaker at COP17, the UN climate change conference in Durban, South Africa.

She said she was looking for clarification and reassurance before taking a stand on a new legally binding agreement proposed at the conference.

This agreement, proposed by the European Union, Japan and other developed countries as a ‘panacea’ for climate change, was focused on reducing emissions and specifically targeting all major emitters

This agreement, proposed by the European Union, Japan and other developed countries as a ‘panacea’ for climate change, was focused on reducing emissions and specifically targeting all major emitters.

Kyoto protocol

Mrs Natarajan asked: ‘Could we reassure each other against unilateral actions in such a treaty. How will the ratification process of the Kyoto Protocol be resolved and most importantly we, at this time of our development, need to keep the imperatives of a developing country in mind and the need to grow.’

She wanted certain ‘fundamental objectives’ to be fulfilled before India could consider being part of such a treaty. These included rapid action by developed countries on carbon emissions reduction, finance and technology as well as addressing India's concern on intellectual property rights, unilateral trade measures and equity.

Carbon tax

She said: ‘The recent announcement by the EU to impose a carbon tax unilaterally on civil aviation emissions under the Emissions Trading Scheme is a clear reminder of such measures. These actions are disguised trade actions taken in the name of climate.’

The world had not changed for the majority of the poor in the developing world. They could not be expected to be legally bound to reduce their emissions when they have practically no emissions

Mrs Natarajan said that the world had not changed for the majority of the poor in the developing world. They could not be expected to be legally bound to reduce their emissions when they have practically no emissions.

There is no doubt that there are dark clouds on the horizon which may impact global trade. The planet's climate may or may not change in the distant future, but restricting trade could seal the fate for millions in poverty, whatever the outcome in Durban.

Additional research by Hardev Sanotra.

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