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Home > News > PTI

Walk the talk on climate change, India tells developed countries

Sridhar Krishnaswami in Washington | February 01, 2008 13:06 IST

Asking the developed countries 'to walk the talk' on reducing green house emissions, India on Friday opposed any 'premature' setting of benchmarks for industries and instead pressed them to first ensure technology transfer to the developing world.

"The setting of any such goal (on reducing emissions) needs to be realistic apart from being based on a scientific consensus at a far higher spatial level than the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change," R Chidambaram, the government's principal scientific advisor, said at the Second Major Economies Meeting on the Environment in Honolulu.

"It should take into account historical cumulative emissions, per-capita emissions and the sustainable development needs of developing countries and should be guided by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change," he told delegates from 16 nations and the European Union, which contributes to 8O per cent of the emissions, as well as the UN.

The parties are meeting to further talks held in Bali in January during which countries agreed to adopt a blueprint for fighting global warming by 2009.

Chidambaram, who led the Indian delegation, stressed that any further discussions should be within the parameters of the Bali Action Plan and rejected any suggestions of new additions, including on 'competitiveness'.

"There have been suggestions on setting benchmarks for various technology sectors. Such benchmarking would be premature for developing countries. Smaller players have to catch up," he said.

"Moreover, we should not put the cart before the horse. If technologies are transferred properly, standards would automatically be achieved," he added.

The Bali Action Plan is about long term cooperative to enable full, effective and sustained implementation of the UN Framework Convention," Chidambaram said.

The United States, which had hosted the first round of major economies talks in Washington in September 2007, has said it hoped the countries would help draft targets for industries and agree to 'binding market-based and voluntary measures' to save the world from climate catastrophe.

"An absolutely clear imperative is that developed countries walk the talk on green house gas reductions. Developing countries are playing a part in the international action on mitigation, especially through the flexibility mechanisms of the Kyoto Protocol," the top Indian delegate said.

"Developing countries, including India, are also taking nationally appropriate action on mitigation. If knowledge is already available and technology is already developed, it should be transferred to the developing countries," he said.

"If the process of knowledge generation is still on, there should be scientific and technological cooperation between the developed and developing countries and in this, India will be more than happy to contribute," he said.

The Indian official stressed that the spirit of common but differentiated responsibilities must pervade, pointing that the special need to support developing countries was being ignored in the talks.

The US has rejected the Kyoto protocol and wants developing countries like India and China to have specific emission targets.

But India and China contend that their per capita emissions are still far too low compared to the developed countries and that they are being unfairly penalised for the damage done to the environment by the developed world.

"There has to be a clear understanding that developing countries have small individual carbon footprints and their overriding priority has to remain poverty eradication and addressing adaptation," Chidambaram said.

"The prospect of rapid depletion of fossil fuels is now driving the global development of energy related technologies like renewables, efficiency and nuclear. Development of each technology is complex. There is need for closing the nuclear fuel cycle," he added.

"The response to climate change needs to be technology based and discussion on technology is necessary as these are the some of the important mitigation technologies in the context of climate change too," Chidambaram said.

"We believe that an equal per-capita entitlement to equal sustainable development is unassailable to ensure fairness and recognition that the earth's atmosphere is our common heritage to which all of us have an equal claim. India was determined that its per-capita emissions do not exceed those of developed countries even as it pursues growth and development," he said.

"This offer is, of course, a challenge to us but it also throws up a challenge to the developed countries and requires sharing of technology. We are glad that Germany [Images], France [Images] and the United Kingdom have accepted the importance of convergence in per-capita emissions for developing countries and developed countries," he added.

"We would be happy to work with like-minded countries to develop this paradigm in a manner that also ensures accelerated growth and empowerment in the developing countries," Chidambaram said.

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