. India’s policy on climate change can be broadly divided into two phases – one in which it strictly adhered to ‘Historical Responsibility’ slogan and the other when it diluted it as it became a bigger economy and bigger polluter. India has become third largest emitter of GHG in absolute terms only behind China, which is at top, and the USA. Share of India is around 6%, share of China is 20% in global GHG emissions.
India believes that accumulated stocks of GHGs is mainly the result of carbon based industrial activities of Industrialized countries and hence it endorses the UNFCCC stipulated deep and substantive cuts by developed countries, as a measure of fulfilling their due responsibility bestowed upon them by history.
Traditionally, India has been a strong activist in International climate change negotiations and has in fact represented the Global South as other bigger countries like China showed little enthusiasm during that time. It gave many important ideas and suggested various norms.
Continuing its original stance, it still maintains that developing countries cannot be burdened for the sins of pasts of developed countries and historical responsibilities must be borne by the developed countries.
In 1992 Rio Summit, India played a key role in ensuring that west accept certain principles, the most important being – ‘Common, but differentiated responsibilities’ (CBDR), technology and resources transfers. These were also included in UNFCCC. Common, but differentiated responsibility clause exempted developing countries from taking any uncompensated mitigation actions.
India also supported the cause of Small Island Developing States at CoP-1 and agreed to their proposal of 20% reduction in emission by Industrialized countries by 2000. A shift in Indian stance occurred in mid 2000s when Indian PM on sidelines of G8 summit vowed development.