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India Says Climate Talks Moving From Global Treaty

United Nations climate talks in Mexico are moving away from a global treaty, and nations should focus more on what they can be doing domestically to prevent climate change, India’s environment minister said.

“An international agreement is not anywhere on the horizon,” Jairam Ramesh said today in New Delhi. “Action has to be domestic. That’s what the last 15 months has shown.”

Policy makers have lowered expectations for a new climate treaty after efforts foundered a year ago in Copenhagen to write a successor to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. India expects to be a “bridge player” by helping narrow the divisions between the U.S. and China, the world’s two biggest polluters, Ramesh said.

“I think the Chinese have embraced the Western economic model lock, stock and barrel,” Ramesh said. “There are 1.5 million automobiles being sold in China every month.” India is in a position to develop a more sustainable model of economic and industrial growth, he said.

Ramesh said India will push for “a system of verification and reporting” of emissions of heat-trapping gases, like carbon dioxide, blamed for climate change at UN climate talks. The talks began yesterday in the Mexican resort of Cancun and are due to conclude on Dec. 10.

Ramesh reiterated India’s position that it won’t entertain any proposal that attempts to impose binding commitments such as emission targets on developing countries. The 192-country Kyoto Protocol, which went into effect in 2005, set emissions targets for only 38 developed countries.

The U.S. has refused to consider any follow-on agreement based on Kyoto, which it says will cost it jobs, while China has resisted verification of its emissions and other actions it’s taking to combat climate change, according to Michael Liebreich, chief executive officer of Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

“Countries like India have to ensure that there are no externally imposed barriers on our growth,” Ramesh said. “Our growth objectives are not negotiable.”

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