India's agenda on the table at Durban

November 28, 2011, Durban: On the opening day of CoP17 in Durban, India managed keep the issues of equity, intellectual property rights and unilateral trade mechanisms on the negotiation table, even though developed countries like the United States and Singapore opposed their introduction.

These were additional agenda items that were submitted by India to be discussed during CoP17 in June this year hoping that they would part of discussions under the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the Convention (AWG-LCA).  India found support for introduction of these items from at least 15 countries -- mostly from the G77+China group.

The CoP17 presidency, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, did not say under which forum of the negotiations these items would be discussed. But Indian negotiators were relieved, saying that since these items were not rejected, the climate change negotiations cannot end without them being discussed.

India found support from neighbouring Pakistan and China, while Venezuala, Saudi Arabia, and Iran also spoke for the Indian proposal. An Indian negotiator who did not want to be named said that the US opposed the introduction of these items because of two reasons. They considered that climate talks were not an appropriate forum to talk about transfer of critical technologies for mitigation and unilateral trade measures and argued that they be discussed in forums such as World Trade Organisation and World Intellectual Property Organisation. India wanted equitable access to sustainable development to be part of the negotiations as the Cancun Agreement signed last year completely ignored the issue. India has opposed unilateral trade measures like the EU carbon tax on aviation which also include non-EU Airlines.

Singapore’s opposition to India’s stand stemmed from its perception that adding new agenda items will only slow down the process and make the work unmanageable.

The Indian delegation has been negotiating hard with different countries to garner support for these agenda items since they landed in Durban on November 26. The CoP presidency will now consult the different groups taking part in the climate change negotiations to decide when these items can be taken up for discussions.