We are not spoilers of climate talks: India

Durban: Brushing aside accusations that India was acting as a bully and "spoiler" during climate talks, its negotiators here are firm that New Delhi will not accept any new legally binding carbon emission cuts, saying its policy is "clear, consistent and compassionate" on the issue.

As the first week of the annual UN climate change conference in Durban, South Africa comes to a close, the buzz in the corridor is whether India will give in to pressure to enhance its climate change obligations at an international level.

India, along with other BASIC countries have "emphasised that the Kyoto Protocol is the cornerstone of the climate regime and its second commitment period is the essential priority for the success of Durban Conference."

The BASIC countries are a bloc of four large developing countries Brazil, South Africa, India and China formed by an agreement on November 28, 2009 formed to work jointly on the issue of climate change.

India`s stance not to accept legally binding carbon emission cuts has been described as "hard line" and there is also talk that India could be getting the "Fossil of Day" award. International civil society organisations are describing India as a "spoiler".

Indian negotiators, however, here dismissed accusations that India was a "spoiler" and it was trying to bully other countries to push for a second commitment period for developed countries under the Kyoto Protocol, the only legally binding treaty on climate change, after its first term expires in 2012. The Indian delegation described India`s position as "clear, consistent and compassionate".

The survival of the Kyoto Protocol remains the main bone of contention at the climate talks. While Japan and Canada have backed out of the treaty, the EU says it will take on a second commitment period if emerging economies like China and India also take on more ambitious cuts.

So far, India also refuses to give into agreeing to "legal form" that will bind it to carbon emission cuts in the future. Here it faces pressure from both developed countries and AOSIS. On a post-2020 treaty, the US also says that "content" of the treaty should come before "form".

Despite the lack of progress, a senior negotiator here noted that a spirit of compromise seemed to be in the air in Durban where 194 countries have gathered to agree on the next steps to combat climate change.

In that spirit, the negotiator noted that EU was now talking of "reassurance," which is a less stringent way of saying legally binding cuts. In that case, he warned, India wants "mutual reassurances" that EU will sticks to ambitious carbon emission reduction commitments without shifting the goal posts further.

The Indian negotiator further noted that while the climate talks were difficult and complicated, like the last thing to come out of Pandora`s Box, "hope" was still alive.