India's Chief Climate Negotiator, Minister Jairam Ramesh, Discusses Climate Change Negotiations

Oct. 04, 2014

India’s Chief Climate Negotiator and the 2014 fall Fisher Family Fellow, Minister Jairam Ramesh, delivered an address titled “Climate Change Diplomacy: The Road to Paris 2015” and led a discussion with experts, students, fellows, and members of the public on international climate change diplomacy as part of the Future of Diplomacy Project. He examined key issues concerning climate change debates and discussed equitable measurements of climate change commitment targets in the lead-up to the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris.

Recognizing the current stalemate in climate change negotiations, Minister Ramesh attributes this to the two different approaches to climate change protocols: the top-down approach of target allocation and the bottom-up approach of voluntary commitments. “The world is divided into very countries who like the top-down approach and a few countries who are influential, the big emitters, the big boys so to speak, who prefer the bottom-up approach and this is one cause of the stalemate in the diplomacy,” states Minister Ramesh. “United States and China not comfortable with the top-down approach of target allocation whereas many African and European countries are comfortable with top-down approach,” observes Minister Ramesh.

Minister Ramesh adds that the issue of differentiation between big emitters and smaller emitters, developed and developing countries, wealthy and poor countries, began in 1992 when the world was ‘divided into Annex I countries, loosely, the 38 industrialized countries, and the Non-Annex I countries, loosely, the developing countries.” From 1992 onwards, “the developed countries took on responsibilities to reduce emissions whereas the developing countries did not take on responsibilities,” states Minister Ramesh.

“The world of 2014 is dramatically different from the world of 2012 and the single biggest change that has taken place is the emergence of China," argues Minister Ramesh. In light of this, he notes that China’s carbon emissions have risen from 11% to 29% whereas US share of emissions has dropped from 24% to 15% in the last twenty years. Minister Ramesh argues that the world is “fixed in 1992….and the Chinese and the Indians and the Brazilians and the South Africans and the Indonesians, who were beneficiaries of that bifurcation or that differentiation in 1992, are arguing for the continuing of that bifurcation.” Minister Ramesh criticizes the absence of per capita income calculations in previous and current protocol frameworks and recognizes the issue of creating an internationally legally binding treaty such as the Kyoto protocol.

While Minister Ramesh sees “dim prospects of the international community arriving at some understanding in each of these three issues,” Minister Ramesh acknowledges positive trends in climate change talks, praising the successes that emerged from the Copenhagen Summit: the agreement on a global goal to limit the temperature increase in the 21st century by 2 degrees Celsius and an “international system of monitoring, reporting, and verification of all the commitments made by countries in their individual capacity.”

Minister Ramesh also expressed optimism about the potential for a bilateral understanding between the US and China. “The road to Paris is a rocky road, there are many pitfalls, there many issues that still separate countries….and cut across developed countries and developing countries…but the most positive influence is the nuancing of the Chinese position.”

For more information on this publication: Please contact Future of Diplomacy Project
For Academic Citation:India's Chief Climate Negotiator, Minister Jairam Ramesh, Discusses Climate Change Negotiations.” News, , October 4, 2014.