India's Position on Climate Change from Rio to Kyoto: A Policy Analysis

India's Position on Climate Change from Rio to Kyoto: A Policy Analysis

Policy-making analysis of actors, structures, ideas, interests and powers behind the Indian government’s national position on climate change. To this objective interviews and informal talks with a number of Indian high-level federal officers as well as a wide range of researchers, politicians and environmental activists have been carried out through January-March 1997.

India has often been in the lead of G77 demands that an international agreement on climate change should differentiate between the industrialized North and the developing South. India’s delegations have had a crucial part in the insertion of statements in the UNFCCC that the largest share of historical and current emissions originates in developed countries and that the emissions of developing countries will have to grow, while those of developed countries will have to be reduced

Four striking features prevail from the investigation of policy-making on climate change in India.

  • domestic experts and activists have had a significant influence in shaping the contours of the national position
  • energy concerns remain the main driving force.
  • the Indian government has been reactive rather than proactive in its policy-making
  • that the Indian research agenda on climate change appears considerably directed by foreign rather than domestic priorities.

Fragile domestic research in combination with a rather sparse debate among major domestic stakeholders leaves the contours of the Indian national position to be, by and large, externally determined. This is primarily illustrated by the mainly reactive rather than proactive policy-making of the Indian government when it comes to climate change. The Indian position is mainly a reaction to the agenda of the North. It is furthermore constructed from a domestic scientific community which in its climate-related research caters mainly to foreign concerns. A lack of domestic debate on climate change, the ad-hoc style in the Indian bureaucracy’s preparations and its tendency to rely heavily on a domestic scientific community which caters primarily to foreign concerns leaves the Indian government poorly prepared for creating a bargaining room for its national interest. India is left merely to respond to the agendas on climate change of politicians, researchers and industrial interests of the North. [author]

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