Prime Minister Manmohan Singh categorically stated on Wednesday that India would not consider any 'quantitative restrictions on carbon emissions,' and said that the first and overriding priority for all developing nations is poverty eradication.
The prime minister was intervening at the Major Economies Meeting in Toyako, Hokkaido, Japan, the venue of the G8 Summit.
Leaders of India, Japan, China, the United States, Australia, Brazil, Canada, the European Union, France, Germany, Indonesia, Italy, Republic of Korea, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, and the United Kingdom met as the world's major economies at the summit.
Dr Singh also criticised the world's most industrialised countries for not showing any 'demonstrable progress on even the low levels of agreed greenhouse gas reduction,' even as the prognosis is that emissions from the developed nations will continue to rise even further in the years to come.
He also said that as a responsible nation, India is mindful of its international obligations. Despite the fact that its per capita emissions are amongst the lowest in the world, India has adopted a strong National Action Plan on Climate Change.
Dr Singh, however, reiterated that India is committed to the path of sustainable development, but stressed that even as the country pursues economic growth and development aggressively, its per capita emissions will not exceed those of developed countries.
This convergence idea is also a challenge to the developed nations, Dr Singh said, adding that the quicker the industrialised nations reduce their emissions, the greater the incentive for the developing world to follow suit.
An equitable burden and carbon space sharing paradigm is also the key to realising the ultimate objective of the convention, he said.
The prime minister said India's efforts will be greatly enhanced with global support, especially in terms of financial flows and technology access.
The prime minister said that this must change and the G8 must show the way by taking the lead and delivering truly significant greenhouse gas reductions.
Dr Singh said that more than 600 million Indians have no access to modern energy sources and over 250 million live on less than $1 a day, and thus sustained and rapid growth for India is more critical than ever. With prices of oil skyrocketing in the global markets, India - a heavy importer of crude - is facing an ever-burgeoning energy bill that endangers its energy security substantially.
"The imperative for accelerated growth is even more urgent when we consider the disproportionate impact of climate change on us as a developing country with little choice but to devote even more and huge resources to adaptation in critical areas of food security, public health, and management of scarce water resources," the prime minister said.
The prime minister said that climate change is a huge challenge and it should be used to add conditionalities to the already complex development challenges faced by the developing world or to maintain economic status quo or to attempt to introduce protectionism by other means. He said the world needs to work together for a better future of mankind.
Emphasising on the developing nation's right to provide better living standards and lifestyle to its people, the prime minister cautioned that there should be no detraction of public and private development transfers and flows. On the contrary, he said, newer and additional resources should be made available to developing nations.
Thanking German Chancellor Merkel, French President Sarkozy, and British Prime Minister Brown for their efforts on addressing the challenge posed by climate change, Dr Singh said, "If we are ready to honestly address the climate change challenge, it is important that we recognise the right to equal and sustainable development."
The prime minister said that that the world needs to eschew unsustainable consumption patterns and lifestyles; and emphasised that technology is a major transformation agent for mitigation and adaptation. He called for collaborative R&D between the developing and the developed nations and stressed on the need for a fairer IPR regime.
The prime minister also met Australian Prime Minister Kevin Ruud and reviewed India's bilateral relations with Canberra. He also invited Ruud to India who said that he would like to do so at the earliest opportunity.Dr Singh will now be meeting with leaders of the BRIC (Brazil, India, Russia and China) nations to discuss the major economic challenges that face the world today, including escalating oil and food prices, and the structural imbalances in the financial markets. He will then have some more bilateral meetings with other leaders.