Developed world should first meet emissions targets: minister

October 1st, 2008 - 10:13 pm ICT by IANS  

New York, Oct 1 (IANS) While underlining India’s impressive record on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions despite a growing economy, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee has said the developed countries should be brought to account as they are responsible for more than 70 percent of the accumulated emissions in the atmosphere, causing climate change.Mukherjee cited the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change agreed to at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, which confined emission targets to developed countries and accepted the principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities”.

Speaking on “India and global challenges: Climate change and energy security’ at the Asia Society Tuesday, Mukherjee said that in the context of climate change the historical accountability of the developed world is, unfortunately, often conveniently ignored. The current discourse, particularly in developed countries, has focused almost entirely on current GHG emissions, which only add to the problem, particularly as they accumulate for the future.

Even on current emissions, India’s record is impressive, Mukherjee said. “Despite being a continental-sized economy with a billion plus population, India’s total emissions of carbon dioxide constitute only 4 percent of the global total.”

In contrast, the US accounts for 20 percent and Europe for 15 percent of the GHG gases.

Besides, during the past decade, while India’s economy has grown at 8 percent annually, its energy growth has been a modest 3.7 percent, thus keeping the rise in emissions considerably low, he said.

The minister highlighted the fact that the risks of climatic changes are greatest to developing countries, which are the most vulnerable and least equipped to cope with climate challenge.

Asserting that climate change represents a classic example of a global cross-cutting issue, where only a timely multilateral and collaborative approach among nations will be able to provide the required response, Mukherjee lamented the fact that “what we are witnessing at the multilateral negotiations on the Bali Action Plan is that attempts are being made to reach only the usual least common denominator outcome at the Conference of State Parties scheduled in December 2009.”

He said that while developing countries are committed to sustainable development, they need to be supported by transfer from developed countries of new and additional financial resources and technology on preferential and concessional terms. “Emission reductions would follow as a result of sustainable development and not be the vehicle for sustainable development,” he observed.

While recognising the linkages between climate change and energy security, India has adopted a National Action Plan on Climate Change which focuses on the need for shifting from fossil fuels to non-fossil fuels, from non-renewable to renewable sources of energy, and from conventional to non-conventional sources of energy, the minister said.

The Plan gives priority to Eight National Missions, of which two directly impact on energy security. One of the two is energy efficiency. The other, Solar Mission, is meant to widely disseminate possible, existing applications of solar energy and to develop applications that can provide convenient, cost-effective and large-scale applications of solar energy.

Nuclear energy also occupies a prominent part in the national energy plan, the minister said, citing the waiver from the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group and the pending US Congressional approval of the India-US civil nuclear agreement. Nuclear power, he said, can be scaled up to at least 63,000 MW by 2030-31.

India’s need for power is estimated to increase from a current level of 160,000 MW to about 800,000 MW by 2030-31.

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