Manmohan Singh absolutely right: UN climate chief

July 8th, 2009 - 4:38 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh By Joydeep Gupta
New Delhi, July 8 (IANS) Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is “absolutely right” when he says that “climate change as we know it today has been caused mostly by industrialised countries”, says the UN climate chief.

“That is why industrialised countries must take the lead in combating climate change,” UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Executive Secretary Yvo de Boer told IANS.

“We all now recognise that we’ll need a global response to deliver a climate agreement that is ambitious and equitable,” de Boer told IANS in a telephone interview, speaking from Bonn.

De Boer, a Dutch, called on heads of government gathering in Italy for the G8-G5 summit this week to “show leadership” in combating climate change.

He was responding to Manmohan Singh’s statement before departing for Italy that “it is the developing countries that are the worst affected by climate change.

“What we are witnessing today is the consequence of over two centuries of industrial activity and high consumption lifestyles in the developed world. They have to bear this historical responsibility. India will actively participate in the international negotiations on climate change within the framework of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Bali Action Plan.”

De Boer said the G8-G5 summit was a “very important moment” in the global fight against climate change “because these are countries that can make the difference. Their leaders have to come forward. This is the time.”

Climate change, caused largely by emissions of carbon dioxide due to industrial activities, is affecting farm output, making droughts, floods and storms more frequent and more severe, and raising the sea level.

Industrialised countries except the US are committed under the Kyoto Protocol to reducing their greenhouse gas emissions by 5.2 percent from 1990 levels by 2012.

The post-2012 commitments are supposed to be finalised by the next climate summit in Copenhagen this December.

Pointing out that this would be the last G8-G5 summit “before Copenhagen”, de Boer said: “It is imperative that the leaders show leadership. Their success will be recognised by the world; so will their failure.”

The pledge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions has become controversial because some industrialised countries have said they will not make promises unless major emerging economies such as India and China do so. Beijing and New Delhi disagree.

De Boer hoped the G8-G5 summit would send a “very clear message to Copenhagen for a long-term goal that is ambitious” and that leaders of industrialised countries would set “clear targets for 2020″ to reduce emissions.

He also hoped that the summit would “deliver agreement on short-term financing for adaptation to climate change in developing countries”.

Asked about the status of the draft text for Copenhagen being prepared by the UNFCCC, he said: “We have placed an edited version of the negotiating text on the web. We hope countries will remove some of the redundancies when negotiators meet in Bonn early August.

“At this stage, it is absolutely clear that choices will have to be made.” He was referring to the many competing proposals put forward by different countries.

Another contentious area in climate talks is transfer of green technologies to developing countries on easy monetary terms. India has called an international meet here in October to discuss possible south-south cooperation in green technologies.

Welcoming this, de Boer said: “South-south cooperation is the obvious way out in many areas. India is the world leader in wind energy generation technologies, China in solar. South-south cooperation may make it possible to make certain technologies available more easily and more cheaply.”

He expected the final Copenhagen agreement to contain a section on technology transfer and “how that can be enhanced. The clean development mechanism (of the UNFCCC) has already led to the transfer of some green technologies to developing countries. The two go hand in hand”.

India, according to the annual economic survey, spends over 2.6 percent of its GDP to adapt to climate change. De Boer said such a large “figure explains why we need a global response to climate change, why we can’t leave it only to industrialised countries”.

Asked if domestic politics would allow US President Barack Obama to make strong commitments, de Boer said: “That depends on how it is formulated. The current legislation on climate change in the US is ambitious. What I am hoping for is a strong outcome from the (G8-G5) meeting that will send a strong signal to Copenhagen.”

(Joydeep Gupta can be contacted at

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