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Jairam Ramesh faces stiff opposition

12/13/09

The Environment and Forest Minister for India, also the chief negotiator for the country, Mr. Jairam Ramesh faced stiff opposition and criticism at the Cabinet meeting last Thursday. The The Union Cabinet drew straight red lines for the minister at the briefing before he departed for the Danish capital. He was instructed not to deviate from the developing countries’ position on climate change.

Jairam Ramesh at COP-15

The Cabinet’s instructions found favor with Ramesh’s critics who have been constantly complaining about him tweaking India’s position due to pressure from developing nations.

It was apparent from the discussions at the cabinet meeting that there were few takers even within the government for Ramesh’s approach to the ongoing climate negotiations. Among those who questioned the environment minister’s shuffles were commerce and industry minister Anand Sharma, roads and highways minister Kamal Nath and power minister Sushil Kumar Shinde.

Ramesh has already been criticized for revealing India’s bottom line position too soon in the negotiations and also for deviating from the established line on climate change action.

The only person that came to the minister’s rescue was Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia. Mr Ahluwalia was in strong favor of setting carbon intensity reductions target and said that they would not hamper economic growth.

The volley of accusations and questions have made the environment minister backtrack on many issues. Ramesh had to withdraw a key issue of international verifications. He had suggested earlier in Parliament that India should be open to international verification. However after vociferous objections from other ministers, Ramesh ate his words.

He finally promised to the Parliament that India would still support the Kyoto Protocol and the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities. He also endorsed the UNFCCC, the Bali Road Map and the concept of per capita emissions.

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