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India hardens stand on climate change

Manmohan Singh shows keenness to reduce emission, but with a rider, reports Narayanan Madhavan.

india Updated: Jun 08, 2007 11:49 IST
Narayanan Madhavan
Narayanan Madhavan
Hindustan Times

Delhi's proud symbols of eco-friendly transport, the Metro railway and buses that run on compressed natural gas (CNG), have become rallying points to underline India’s hardening case in front of developed countries on ways to tackle climate change.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh arrived in Berlin on Wednesday to join the G-8 Summit of developed countries, with a clear signal from his government that India is keen to move ahead on ways to reduce carbon emissions that heat up the earth, with the caveat that it must involve equity, technology and a fair division of the burden.

“It is a fact that more and not less development is the best way for developing countries to address themselves to the issue of preserving the environment and protecting the climate,” Singh said. A day after China issued a statement that signalled that the fight against global warming and climate change could not take place at the cost of its development goals, a similar position came out from the Ministry of External Affairs in a paper on India’s views on the issue.

“On climate change, India and China have very similar positions,” an official said. “There will be some hard negotiations.”

But government sources said Brazil and China, which join India as part of the outreach group of five nations linked with the Group of Eight summit at the resort town of Heiligendamm, may have differences between them in details. As key growing countries with strong energy plans, the three countries have become critical in steps to reduce carbon emissions that cause climate change.

“An agreement is needed on intellectual property rights (IPRs) on technological efforts in developing countries paralleling the successful agreement on compulsory licensing of pharmaceuticals for addressing epidemic diseases,” the paper said. In the case of vital drugs, developing countries like India have successfully fought to ensure that IPR rules are relaxed to make medicines that matter a lot to the poor.

The paper suggested venture capital funding for research on energy-saving technologies through multilateral institutions, with the patents being held by the fund, which could offer know how at cheaper rates to developing countries. “No efforts at greenhouse gas (GHG) mitigation will succeed if patterns of production and consumption in developed countries remain grossly unsustainable,” it said.

The paper said India’s per capita emission of GHG were only 23 per cent of the global average, 4 per cent that of the US, 12 per cent of the European Union and 15 per cent of Japan. “In the aggregate, India with 17 per cent of the world population has only 4 per cent of global GHG emissions,” it said. The Centre on Tuesday set up a panel of policymakers to suggest ways to tackle the issue of climate change.

First Published: Jun 06, 2007 21:14 IST