India can play key role at Cancun: US

By Arun Kumar, IANS
Monday, November 22, 2010

WASHINGTON - The United States says India can play an important role at next week’s climate change talks in Cancun, Mexico, to help make progress on efforts to control global warming gases.

“India had a very important role last year in Copenhagen, and I think India will have a very important role this year, particularly if we have a chance of getting anywhere,” US Special Envoy for Climate Change Todd Stern told reporters Monday.

“Obviously, it’s an important voice on the developing country side. But I think India also has great potential to speak from a posture of credibility, frankly, on kind of both sides of the aisle, if you will,” he said when asked about India’s role at Cancun.

“And I think India has shown both a commitment to principles but also a willingness to think in a new way and to be pragmatic,” Stern said. “And I think that’s been quite important.”

The US, he said had no problem with China, India, Brazil, and South Africa forming themselves into a group called BASIC last year which meets every quarter.

“I don’t regard that as a bloc,” Stern said. “But I think it’s a group of some of the most important emerging countries, and they clearly share ideas and views, and I think that’s fine.”

In Washington’s view a treaty requiring legally binding mitigation commitments from the US, the European Union, Australia, Japan and other developed countries would have to also require them of China, India, and other emerging economies, he said.

“And we just don’t see this happening soon,” Stern said suggesting that “rather than insisting on a legal treaty before anything happens, we should move down the pragmatic path of concrete operational decisions.”

The challenge in Cancun is to find a way to build on the progress made last year in the Copenhagen Accord through the direct intervention of many of the world leaders, he said.

Representatives from 194 nations will meet in the Mexican resort city of Cancun from Nov 29-Dec 10 to clinch an agreement to curb greenhouse gases after 2012.

“Even though it fell short of what many had hoped for, the accord took an important step forward in addressing climate change. Progress was made on all the key elements of the negotiations, and much of it in direct, face-to-face discussions among our leaders,” Stern said.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at

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