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Paris climate meet reaches draft deal, India’s concerns visible

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Paris: Less than a week into the crucial global climate change conference here, some 196 participating countries on Saturday reached a draft deal which seeks to address one of India’s main demands that rich nations must extend emerging economies both funding and technology so that their clean and green development goals do not entail unfair costs or burden.

The delegates at the 21st Conference of Parties under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, who have been holding deliberations here since November 30 said they have a blueprint that seeks to reduce carbon emissions and limit global warming at a level that will be negotiated next week.

The draft was handed over at the plenary session on Saturday morning, after working through the night before on the fourth such text issued in the past three days. Once the officials come to an understanding, it is expected to be scaled up to the ministerial level for a pact where India will be led by its Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar.

The thrust is on a legally-binding deal before the end of this round of negotiations due till December 11.

Significantly, the 48-page draft says developed countries shall provide new and additional financial resources, technology transfer and capacity-building to meet the agreed full costs incurred by developing countries in complying with their obligations. It also says the extent to which emerging economies implement their commitments will depend on rich nations meeting their commitments.

The draft, which has a substantial amount of the text in square brackets — meaning these are either contentious or yet to be negotiated — also proposed to raise $100 billion annually from 2020, recognising the key role that it will play in implementing the final pact in its true spirit.

This is important since the poor and emerging economies want clean and green technology and funding from rich nations to pursue their national interests without harming the environment further, as they hold the industrialised responsible for polluting the earth in the past.

“India is looking at a just and equitable outcome firmly anchored in the UNFCCC. India’s priorities are both mitigation and adaptation and both are equally important. India is strongly supportive of food security. Adaptation in the agriculture sector will ensure food security,” said Susheel Kumar, one of the interlocutors from the Indian side.

This year’s conference, also known as the 2015 Paris Climate Conference, is seeking to achieve a legally binding and universal agreement on protecting the environment — for the first time in over 20 years of UN-mandated negotiations — with the aim of keeping global warming below 2 degrees Celsius.

India has articulated that any outcome at the talks must be just.

“Principle of common but differentiated responsibilities should be the bedrock of our collective enterprise. Anything else would be morally wrong,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said when talks began on November 30. “Justice demands that, with what little carbon we can still safely burn, developing countries are allowed to grow.”

At the same time, New Delhi has also proposed some Suo moto commitments. It submitted on October 2 its action plan on climate change, called Intended Nationally Determined Contributions, pledging to slash the emission intensity of its economy by 2030 at the 2005 level, while pursuing its own sustainable development agenda.

(IANS)

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Fall Of The Currency And Increase In Oil Prices: India ‘s Turmoil

The falling rupee has given a boost to some of India’s most lucrative exports, such as software services and pharmaceuticals, which add up to billions of dollars.

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India
Rajesh Kumar, left, shares a ride to work with another employee, Dilip Swain, right, as higher petrol prices in India begin to be felt in people's pocketbooks.VOA

The fall of the currency of India to record lows and rising global oil prices have raised worries that the world’s fastest growing economy faces headwinds that could hurt the fortunes of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party in next year’s general elections.

From people filling fuel at gas stations to thousands of students heading out to study overseas, the impact of the slumping rupee is sparking discontent.

Having plunged by about 12 percent against the dollar this year, the rupee is one of Asia’s worst faring currencies, and as in other countries, the slide has accelerated since the crash of the Turkish lira.

“The reasons are global. We must bear in mind that in last few months, dollar has strengthened against almost every currency,” said Finance Minister Arun Jaitley recently as he tried to send out reassuring signals that India’s economy is on track.

India
The rupee has plunged by about 12 percent this year raising fears of spiraling inflation. VOA

The rupee’s sharp depreciation comes at a time when the economy had recovered from a slowdown and surged to a two-year high in the quarter that ended in June. Forecasts put growth for this year at 7.5 percent.

Economy will slow

But economists warn this momentum will be difficult to sustain as the tumbling rupee, along with rising crude oil prices, takes a toll on growth. India, the world’s third largest oil importer, gets almost 80 percent of its fuel needs overseas.

“The government needs to mellow down on growth aspirations,” said N.R. Bhanumurthy, economist with the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy. “The growth needs to come down to a little less than 7 percent.”

Even as the government faces the prospect of a slowing economy, it is under pressure to lower taxes on gas and diesel to bring down the sharp rise in prices. Fuel is one of the most heavily taxed items in India, with rates as high as nearly 50 percent. Prices vary from state to state, but they have gone up by about 14 percent this year.

Hoping to cash in on the growing disaffection over the surge in fuel prices and the sliding rupee, opposition parties led nationwide protests that shutdown offices and schools in several cities this week.

India
Discontent with spiraling fuel prices poses a challenge to Prime Minister Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party ahead of general elections next year. VOA

The government dismissed the protests, saying that although people faced momentary difficulties, they understood they were because of factors beyond its control.

Political analysts are not so sure, pointing out that fuel prices are a politically sensitive issue in India and usually result in a spike in inflation.

“Anger is rising, there is resentment,” said Satish Misra at the Observer Research Foundation, warning the ruling party will face a backlash “Obviously that is going to have a negative impact on the electoral fortunes of the Bharatiya Janata Party, there is no doubt about that.”

Warnings from economists

Among those who are upset with the high fuel prices is Rajesh Kumar, who commutes 30 kilometers to the advertising agency where he works. Hit by the higher prices that eat into his income, he has started sharing the ride with another employee.

India
Narendra Modi. Wikimedia Commons

“I have given up the idea of buying another car,” he said despondently. “I will not be able to afford the cost of running it.”

Economists however have warned the government against giving in to populist pressures ahead of a series of state polls later this year and general elections around April next year. They say lowering taxes on fuel or taking measures to prop up the currency will strain the country’s finances and hurt the economy in the long run.

Also Read: Diverse Gathering To Be Addressed This World BioFuel Day: PM Narendra Modi

“One needs to be more careful and vigilant,” Bhanumurthy said. “It is easy for India to stay with low growth than experiencing the high deficit.”

But there is also some good news for the Indian economy. The falling rupee has given a boost to some of India’s most lucrative exports, such as software services and pharmaceuticals, which add up to billions of dollars. (VOA)