India has criticised a United Nations report for recommending that developing countries cut greenhouse gas emissions to 20 per cent below 1990 levels by 2050, newspapers reported on Wednesday.
The latest Human Development Report, released by the UN Development Programme on Tuesday, included some of the strongest warnings yet for collective action to avert catastrophic climate change, which would disproportionately affect the poor.
"Its recommendations look egalitarian, but they are not," said Montek Singh Ahluwalia, deputy chairman of the Planning Commission, India's national policymaking body, according to newspaper reports.
"This is the first time I have seen a United Nations report talk of developing nations to take up commitments. I challenge the research team to supplement their research."
Ahluwalia was speaking as a guest at the Indian launch of the report, which comes ahead of a UN climate summit next month in Bali, Indonesia, where nations will discuss future commitments to cut the carbon emissions seen as the cause of climate change.
The UN report says an agreement without quantitative commitments from developing countries would "lack credibility".
Commitments are unfair
But India, along with other developing countries, has said it does not want to commit to binding cuts. It says such cuts are unfair and would hinder its efforts to lift hundreds of millions of people out of poverty.
Rich nations, it points out, only became rich after burning colossal amounts of fossil fuels over 150 years of industrialisation, and the onus should be on them to make cuts.
Although Indians account for about a sixth of the world's population, they are responsible for only about a twentieth of total carbon emissions, according to UN figures.
India's slow development is partly responsible around 500 million Indians, most of them living in the countryside, are still not connected to the grid, instead burning cow dung, wood and kerosene for fuel.
But many people argue that it is possible for India to both develop and reduce emissions by investing in more efficient and more renewable energy sources rather than increasing its dependence on coal.
One such critic is scientist Rajendra Pachauri, who was a joint winner of this year's Nobel Peace Prize as chairman of the UN climate panel and who now sits on India's newly created Council on Climate Change.
He has said it would be suicidal if India followed the same path of carbon-heavy development as rich countries.