'It's important to know attractiveness of action with respect to cost of inaction'

With the stage set for the climate talks in Durban, which would decide the future of the Kyoto Protocol, there is no dearth of apprehensions about the negotiations between different parties at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. However, RK Pachauri, director general of The Energy and Resources Institute (Teri) tells FE's Kirtika Suneja that more than politics, it is the science of climate change that should drive these negotiations. Edited excerpts:

With the talks being the deciding factor of the fate of the Protocol, how do you expect the negotiations to shape up?

It is very difficult to make any prediction because no one knows what way the negotiations will go or how the Conference of Parties (CoP) is structured . However, because there is adequate flow of information and scientific knowledge on climate change, I would expect it to be shared by the delegates for a long-term solution, else we will only have a short-term political decision.

There are apprehensions regarding the positions of various countries, especially India, which is being viewed as a blocker...

The apprehensions are because of the different positions of different countries and lack of understanding and mutuality. Therefore, it is important to know the attractiveness of action with respect to the cost of inaction. We must realise that the cost of action is very low. As for India's position, it could very well be a negotiating tactic. The inflexible stance could be because many issues can't be resolved overnight. Look at the global issues like WTO talks. These are complex undertakings as it is very difficult to get a convergence of views.

Is India's position a cause for worry?

I'm not worried about the inflexible stance because all the countries are negotiating on the basis of common but differentiated responsibility and India has as much at stake. Second, we have to keep domestic situation in mind as 400 million people in the country are without electricity. This is clearly an opportunity and that is outlined in the National Action Plan for Climate Change (NAPCC). We have a good action plan and only need to implement it. All this domestic action will be showcased during the talks.

What progress do you expect at the talks with none of the heads of state present there this time?

There were no heads of state even at the CoP 13 in Bali but we had a major statement – Bali Action Plan – from those talks. These are international negotiations and is important for everyone to understand the scientific realities of climate change. The mere presence of heads has nothing to do with the outcome of the talks.

Everyone has their sights trained on G77 plus China but there are differences inside the group also and US' position is still not clear...

There is a difference between the levels of development in India and China. So, we can't be uniform in a single posture. As for the US, it is hard to say where they are headed. Europe, on the other hand, has not changed its stance since 2009.

Tags: climate change negotiations, COP 17, Kyoto Protocol, NAPCC