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October 23, 2002 | 1256 IST
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India calls for stress on sustainable development

Union Environment Minister T R Baalu on Wednesday urged developing countries to work for eradication of poverty, take a lead role in promoting sustainable development and address the issues of climate change.

"Poverty eradication is an indispensable requirement for sustainable development," Baalu said, addressing the UN Conference on Climate Change, which began in New Delhi amidst tight security.

"The linkages between climate change and sustainable development recognise the problems of poverty, land degradation, access to water and food, and human health," he said.

Energy has a central role in alleviating poverty and action was needed for dissemination of innovative technologies in the key sectors of development, he said.

More than 3,000 delegates, including ministers from 186 countries, are attending the eighth conference of the parties (COP-8) to the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Emphasising that all countries should promote sustainable development, Baalu said the developed countries are required to demonstrate their key role in modifying long-term emission trends and in this respect they were committed specifically to adopt mitigation policies and measures.

The ten-day meet will seek new mandate for promoting measures and finding additional funding to check global warming.

Guidelines are to be formulated for review and reporting of greenhouse gas inventories, land use, land use change and forestry and scientific and methodological assessment of contributions to climate change.

Other issues to be discussed include cleaner or less greenhouse gas emitting energy, the implementation of Kyoto Protocol article besides addressing environmental concerns of the developing countries.

Climate change is considered one of the most serious threats to the world's environment, with negative impacts on human health, food security, economic activity, water and other natural resources and physical infrastructure.

Global climate varies naturally, but scientists agree that rising concentrations of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions in the earth's atmosphere was leading to a change in the climate.

According to the inter-governmental panel on climate change, the effects of such changes have already been observed. Despite some lingering uncertainties, a majority of scientists believe that precautionary and prompt action is necessary.

West to guard its interests

Even as the conference on climate change began, developed countries have said they will be keeping a close watch on issues relating to the implementation of the Kyoto Protocol.

"We'll be following Protocol issues... We're not going to interfere, but we will be watching carefully to protect our national interests," said a leading member of the US State Department delegation.

Addressing a news briefing in Washington before leaving for Delhi, Harlan Watson, a senior climate negotiator, said the US would be 'very active' in the talks on climate change, but would play a 'low-key role' in discussions relating to the Kyoto Protocol and its implementation.

The Kyoto Protocol is a treaty that developed from years of negotiations in the UN Framework convention on climate change and aims at imposing mandatory reductions in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions linked to global warming.

The Bush Administration opposes the Protocol on the grounds that its reduction targets will cause damage to the US economy.

The conference will take up a review of implementation of the commitments of several countries under the UN Framework convention on climate change and will discuss preparatory measures with regard to the Kyoto Protocol on reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. The Protocol is likely to come into force early next year.

As per the Kyoto Protocol and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, developed countries were required to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by specific targets while developing countries were required to prepare source-wise inventories of greenhouse gas emissions.

There is a fear among developing countries that the developed world might try to shift the blame for climate change on them, citing cases like the formation of the Asian Brown Cloud, and to wriggle out of commitments made under the Kyoto Protocol.

The conference will also focus on the concerns of developing countries, including adaptation to climate change, development and transfer of technology and reviewing of financial mechanisms to enable enhanced flow of resources.

The review of financial mechanism includes providing guidelines to operationalise new funds like the Adaptation Fund.

The focus of the discussion in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change has been on how to mitigate climate change, and the Kyoto Protocol, with its emission reduction targets, has been the outcome of that process. This time round, the focus will be on how to adapt to climate change.

The conference will conclude on November 1 with the adoption of the Delhi Declaration highlighting the framework of action for implementation to effectively address climate change concerns.

Additional inputs: Business Standard

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