Manmohan rejects Bush’s contention on climate change equation

July 9th, 2008 - 2:46 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

Toyako, July 9 (IANS) Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Wednesday rejected US President George Bush’s contention that countries like India and China should accept the same emission reduction goals as developed nations, saying “we cannot for the present even consider quantitative restrictions on our emissions”. Instead, he said, the industrialised world will have to show “demonstrable progress” on reduction of greenhouse gases (GHG) which scientists say are responsible for heat-trapping in the atmosphere and are leading to global changes in climate.

“We have not seen demonstrable progress on even the low levels of agreed GHG reduction from developed countries and, indeed, the prognosis is that their emissions as a whole will continue to rise even in the years to come,” he said during his intervention in the major economies meeting during the G8 summit in this picturesque Japanese resort where leaders of major developed and developing countries have assembled to discuss global issues.

Bush has been consistently saying that the US cannot agree to common emission reduction norms unless fast emerging - and hence polluting - economies like China and India are brought on board and accept the same.

Ahead of the G8 summit that began Monday, Bush said he would be “constructive” in talks on climate change but insisted that the issue cannot be solved unless fast-growing China and India agree on long-term emission goals.

“And I also am realistic enough to tell you that if China and India don’t share that same aspiration, then we’re not going to solve the problem,” Bush said at a joint press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda in Toyako, according to the White House.

But soon after a meeting with Bush this morning, where climate change was among the topics discussed, Singh said the first and overriding priority of developing countries like India was poverty eradication.

“Sustained and accelerated economic growth is, therefore, critical for all developing countries and we cannot for the present even consider quantitative restrictions on our emissions,” the prime minister said before the other leaders that included Bush, Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda, leaders of other G8 countries, G5 countries as well as leaders of Australia, South Korea and Indonesia.

In a clear and strong enunciation of the Indian position on climate change, Singh told the G8 leaders: “This (position on emission reductions) must change and you must all show the leadership that you have always promised by taking and then delivering truly significant GHG reductions.”

He said India’s per capita emissions were among the lowest in the world - “and we are certainly not free riders or major emitters”.

Earlier, he had told Indian journalists that by no stretch of imagination could India be termed a major polluter - an inference that Bush had been making on the strength of India being a rapidly growing economy - and its emission levels were 1.2 tonnes per capita compared to say 20 tonnes per capita for the developed world.

He said: “India is determined that even as we pursue our economic growth and development, our per capita emissions will not go beyond that of the developed countries.”

And he said this with a rider to the industrialised countries - “The quicker you reduce your emissions, the greater the incentive for us to follow.”

He also advised all countries, particularly the rich, to “eschew unsustainable consumption patterns and lifestyles worldwide” and said “an equitable burden and carbon space sharing paradigm is also the key to realising the ultimate objective of the Convention” on climate change.

Before he left for the G8 summit, the Indian government had unveiled its National Action Plan on Climate Change that underscored India’s commitment to working with other countries to find solutions within the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Bali Road Map.

India believes mandatory caps and reductions in GHG emissions were for developed countries, which were responsible for almost all the excess GHG in the atmosphere.

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