India heads into the G-8 summit of developed countries this week as an outreach partner with the prospect of walking a tightrope on climate change, balancing its role as an early advocate of reducing carbon emissions with its right to defend its rights as an economy poised for sustainable high growth.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh leaves on Wednesday for the German beach resort of Heiligendamm near Berlin where global warming arising from the heating of the earth's atmosphere by industry-generated greenhouse gases will be the key issue, alongside developments on the global economy.
"In some ways, it is very hard for a developing country to adapt to the ways of climate change," Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon said at a briefing on Tuesday, the World Environment Day, ahead of the summit.
He said that India had already made sizeable and early contributions by restricting its greenhouse gases by measures such as the introduction of compressed natural gas (CNG) buses in Delhi.
India's energy consumption measured per dollar of gross national product had shrunk over the years, he said, adding that the government would like to move under a United Nations regime on the issue over which countries had not harmonised their views.
"The burden of increased costs must be shared fairly," he said. "It is quite clear who is responsible for this," he added in an indirect reference to developed countries led by the United States, which are now trying hard for coordinated global efforts to control climate change.
Singh is expected to meet Chinese President Hu Jintao at a bilateral meeting in Berlin and also leaders of the other three outreach countries, Mexico, Brazil and South Africa.
At the main summit venue, the prime minister is expected to meet Group of Eight leaders from the United States, Canada, Germany, France, Italy, Britain, Russia and Japan, especially President George W Bush.
However, Menon said these meetings would be "pull aside" encounters on the margins of the summit with no set agenda or schedule. He said India's sensitive talks with Washington on their nuclear cooperation agreement were expected to be mentioned, but no more.
"I don't think we expect to discuss the nuclear issue," the foreign secretary said. " It is not a negotiating forum. But I am sure it will be mentioned as it is important."