India is being strategically pushed into announcing voluntary targets to curb its carbon footprint.
“I don’t think we can sweep aside the fact that our peer group of nations like China, Indonesia, Brazil and South Africa have clearly put down voluntary, unilateral, non-legally binding and quantitative targets,” environment minister Jairam Ramesh said in Beijing on Friday. “It has implications for us. We can’t run away from it.”
Earlier Ramesh was given a “completely unexpected” — as ministry officials put it — audience by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao that lasted over an hour.
On Thursday, China had announced its intention to reduce its carbon dioxide emission per unit of GDP by 40-45 per cent of its 2005 levels by 2020.
“We’ve the numbers,” Ramesh said. “We’ve done the homework. There is a lot of room for reducing energy and emission intensity in India without affecting our 7-8 per cent GDP growth.”
India is the fourth-largest polluter, producing 1.8 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per $1,000 of GDP or economic growth. Russia is the largest (4.5 tonnes), followed by China (2.85 tonnes) and South Africa (2.42 tonnes).
The Chinese leadership has invited negotiators from India, South Africa, Brazil and Sudan to Beijing on Saturday, to strategise for the Copenhagen meet on December 7 when nations will plan targets to curb man-made emissions that cause global warming.
“Clearly, this is part of a new Chinese leadership-cum-publicity-relations exercise,” Ramesh said. India’s approach too will be domestic and voluntary.
India and China will not accept absolute emission cuts. But Ramesh emphasised it was time for India to migrate from talking about action to quantifying outcome in energy or emissions intensity.
China is ahead of India in plans to mitigate climate change impact. It aims to plant 60 billion trees and add 40 million hectares of new forest cover in 10 years — a pace five times that of India’s. China is already working on reducing energy intensity by 20 per cent of 2005 levels by 2010.