If the international negotiations were to move in the direction of legally binding carbon emission cuts then all major economies, including India and China should be under an obligation to do so, the US said today.
"If we are in the world of legally binding... where the negotiation on the table is for legally binding commitments... then it would be legally binding for China and India and other major developing countries," America's top climate change negotiator, Todd Stern told PTI.
Speaking at the end of the two day Major Economies Forum (MEF) meeting in New York, Stern also stressed that the US had been working with China and India on several non-binding initiatives to tackle climate change as well.
"So we're not pushing to have legally binding commitments on China or India or Brazil or anybody else... we're only saying that if it were to go in a legally binding direction then it would have to be legally binding for all the major players."
With the world's largest population, China is the overall top emitter of greenhouse gases followed by US, which still has the highest per capita carbon emissions.
China and India, however, assert that they cannot agree to legally binding cuts as they cope with problems of poverty and development.
Instead, both countries have taken on voluntary mitigation action, which in India's case is a decision to reduce carbon intensity by 20 to 25% by 2020 compared with 2005 levels.
Stern, however, pointed out that the non-binding Copenhagen Accord agreed to last year at the climate change conference in Denmark moved away from the paradigm of mandatory obligations for the developed world and voluntary obligations for the developing world, which is rooted in the Kyoto Protocol—the only legally binding treaty on climate change.
"All major economies developed and developing agreed to implement set of actions... the old Kyoto paradigm that developed countries have to do things on a mandatory basis and developing countries don't... that was not a feature of the Copenhagen accord."
The 17 countries attending the two-day MEF meet were Australia, Brazil, Britain, Canada, China, the European Union, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, South Korea, and the United States.
Stern also admitted that many of the tough issues had not been addressed during the two day meeting in New York but instead the countries focused on areas of convergence, which would be further pursued during the upcoming climate change conference in Cancun, Mexico.