Jump to Navigation

Indian environment minister Jayanthi Natarajan gives hard hitting speech, receives standing ovation

External Reference/Copyright
Issue date: 
December 10, 2011
Publisher Name: 
Equity Watch
More like this


Durban, December 9: Following is the text of the minister's speech:

Indaba Session:December 10, 2011 – 1800 hrs

Remarks by Smt. Jayanthi Natarajan, Hon’ble Minister for Environment & Forests

Thank you Madam Chair. I do not know how to start. I have heard people across the room carefully. I am from India and I represent 1.2 billion people. My country has a tiny per capita carbon footprint of 1.7 ton and our per capita GDP is even lower.

I was astonished and disturbed by the comments of my colleague from Canada who was pointing at us as to why we are against the roadmap. I am disturbed to find that a legally binding protocol to the Convention, negotiated just 14 years ago is now being junked in a cavalier manner. Countries which had signed and ratified it are walking away without even a polite goodbye. And yet, pointing at others.

I was also deeply moved listening to the comments of my colleagues and friends from the small island states. Our positions may be different, but their sentiments resonate with me very strongly. India has 600 islands which may be submerged, we have deltaic region in which millions of people live. We are absolutely at the forefront of the vulnerability of Climate Change. When I talk here, I have in front of my eyes, the face of the last Indian who is affected by the effects of Climate Change.

It would be helpful if we do not talk at each other and do not prejudge each other.

As a developing country, the principles of equity and CBDR are central for us. India is asking for space for basic development for its people and poverty eradication. Is this an unreasonable demand? Former Prime Minister of India Indira Gandhi said that poverty is the greatest polluter and development is the greatest healer. Equity has to be the centerpiece of the Climate discussion and our negotiations should be built on it. We cannot accept the principle of CBDR to be diluted. The firewall of CBDR must not be broken. Equity in the debate must be secured.

I too raise my voice for urgency. Climate Change is the most pressing and urgent problem for us. I too have a grandson, the son of my son. Climate Change affects us too. What is important is what action we are taking to address it. We are not saying nothing should be done now, or no action should be taken. On the contrary. We are asking that the actions of the developed country parties must be reviewed.

We have taken ambitious steps in India to address Climate Change. My Prime Minister has announced that our per capita emissions would never exceed that of developed countries. Has any other country done this? We have ambitious energy efficiency targets. We have pledged to lower our emissions intensity of our GDP by 20-25% by 2020. A recent report from Stockholm Institute has noted that the mitigation pledges of developing countries amount to more mitigation than that of developed countries.

What we demand is for existing commitments to be met. What we demand is comparability of actions. We demand that the emissions gap must be bridged.

Coming to the text you have presented Madan Chair, I have three comments.

First of all, there is an imbalance in the two texts. The KP is weak. It does not have:

The numbers for KP parties, not till next years

No timeline for ratification

And no indication of how the gap in the implementation will be avoided

My biggest concern with reference to the texts is that there is no reference to the fundamental principle of equity and CBDR in the bigger picture text.

We should have clear timelines that advance the actions and ambition of parties. We in the developing world are taking very ambitious domestic actions. It is because we need urgent actions that we should urgently implementation the Bali Action Plan and operationalize the Cancun Agreements.

We should have an ambitious implementation phase till 2013 and then go to the Review in 2013-15 to make an assessment based on science and commitments.

We should then begin work on the arrangements that can enhance our ambition further. We should not confuse legally binding arrangements with ambition. We need commitments, not mere hollow promises.

Thank you.


Extpub | by Dr. Radut