India has denounced attempts to link climate issues to economic recovery amid the coronavirus pandemic at the forthcoming G20 talks, saying it will impose a huge developmental cost on developing countries.
The US administration has been pushing for a strong climate agenda as part of the process of recovery from the pandemic.
Senior government officials feel that imposing “green” conditionalities on trade, investment, financing for development, etc. amid the “worst economic impact of a lifetime would be adding insult to injury as far as poor and developing countries are concerned”.
Sanjeev Sanyal, the principal economic advisor to the Ministry of Finance, said climate change is a serious issue but it should not be confused with the immediate objective of an economic revival.
“India is definitely adhering to its climate commitments and we are willing to do more, but I am uncomfortable with bringing it on to G20 platform because we haven’t got an agreed language there,” he said during a seminar organised by RIS, a Delhi-based think tank that examines global trade and financial issues, on Friday.
He was responding to deputy director of OCED Development Centre Federico Bonaglia who said relief to developing countries should be linked to their climate policies.
“Climate crisis has contributed to the emergence of COVID-19 crisis. These issues should be addressed together,” Mr Bonaglia said.
Countering him, Mr Sanyal said the link between pandemics and climate change is far from established. “Whether or not we have climate change, global pandemics happen from time to time.”
P Harish, additional secretary (economic relations) in the Ministry of External Affairs, criticised efforts to establish a goalpost outside the Paris framework in the G20.
He mentioned that India is the only G20 country that has met its Paris commitments and nationally determined contributions.
It won’t be correct to ignore the historic caseload and developmental situation where India’s per capita GDP is only 5 per cent of that of G7 and fraction of the G20 GDP, and per capital energy consumption as compared to global average is far lower.
“We have many years ahead of us where we come up to the world average in terms of energy consumption and per capita GDP. Constraining our options at this point through extra conditionalities will not only impose a financial cost but also a huge developmental cost,” the senior official said.
“Imposing conditionalities amid the worst economic impact of a lifetime by seeking green recovery…in a range of areas, on trade, investment, financing for development, this would be adding insult to injury as far as the poor and developing countries” situation is concerned,” he said.
The G20 Heads of State and Government will meet in Rome on October 30 and 31.