India opposes attempts to link climate issues to economic recovery amid pandemic

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. 

According to a Press Trust of India report, senior Indian 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. 

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.

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.

The G20 Heads of State and Government will meet in Rome on October 30 and 31 this year.

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