NEW YORK: Prime Minister Narendra Modi's focus on "climate justice" underscores the need for equity for developing countries which should not be condemned for their developmental activities and there should be a common but differentiated responsibility, a top official has said.
Climate justice is a "question on equity" and the central principle is common but differentiated responsibility. "We accept that we have a common responsibility to protect the mother planet, but at the same time the responsibility has to be differentiated. You have to take into account the levels of development of various countries and allow them the developmental space so that they can also aspire to become middle and developed countries," Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Vikas Swarup said yesterday after Modi's address to the UN Sustainable Development Summit.
When one talks about emissions, it should be about per capita emissions. India's per capita emission is still 1.7 and US' is 16 or 17, and so the issue is of equity and justice "that you cannot now condemn the developing world which is still at a very low carbon stage" for their developmental objectives and say that there should be pollution, he said.
Swarup said Modi has consistently stressed on sustainable development and India is very conscious of its obligations in this regard. He cited India's focus on achieving 175 gigawatts of renewable energy but said this does not mean that India will give up its developmental choices.
"Historic responsibility of climate change has to be understood. It is very clear which are the countries that are responsible for the state that we are in today," he said. The articulation by the Prime Minister of climate justice is not "radically different" as developing countries have been saying that there has to be a historic responsibility for climate change and developing countries should not be asked to constrain their developmental choices simply on the grounds of emissions, he said.
Modi has also emphasised that emphasis must not be on a negative agenda that says that countries should "cap your emissions, control, that is not a way of looking at things."
The focus should be on "positive agenda" which is to give developing countries finance and transfer of technology that will help them in meeting developmental goals in a more sustainable way.
"I think his voice and his words would have resonated with the whole host of developing countries which will accept the same principles," Swarup said. Climate justice entails providing developing countries with resources to make development sustainable.
Swarup said a larger statement on climate change would be delivered at the Climate Change Summit in Paris in December.