NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India will unveil in June a national plan to deal with the threat of global warming, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said on Thursday, but it will not commit to any emission targets that risk slowing economic growth.
Singh’s Council on Climate Change will look at setting up a venture capital fund to promote green technologies, increasing energy efficiency and combating the possible impact of climate change on millions of India’s poor.
“India is prepared to commit that our per-capita carbon emissions will never exceed the average per-capita emissions of developed industrial economies,” Singh told a summit on sustainable development in New Delhi.
Those emission levels could be brought down further as and when the worst emitters in the developed world cut back on their emissions, he said.
India, whose economy has grown by 8-9 percent annually in recent years, is one of the world’s top polluters and contributes around 4 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions as its consumption of fossil fuels gathers pace.
But as a developing nation, India is not yet required to cut emissions -- said to be rising by between 2 and 3 percent a year -- under the Kyoto Protocol, despite mounting pressure from environmental groups and industrialized nations.
In December, world nations including India and top polluters China and the United States agreed to launch two years of talks on a broader global pact to curb greenhouse gas emissions to replace Kyoto once that pact expires at the end of 2012.
Kyoto binds 37 rich nations to curb emissions during the pact’s first commitment period of 2008-2012. Developing nations are excluded.
According to U.N. data, India’s per-capita emissions of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, were 1.2 tonnes in 2004, compared with 20.6 tonnes for the United States for the same year.
Officials said the new national plan will not include any overall emissions targets. India says it must use more energy to lift its population from poverty and that its per-capita emissions are a fraction of those in rich nations, which have burnt fossil fuels unhindered since the Industrial Revolution.
“We cannot continue with a global development model in which some countries continue to maintain high carbon emissions,” Singh said, calling for “climate justice.”
Singh also made a strong pitch for an equitable global regime for transfer of green technology, saying such a measure was in the interest of developed nations.
“The world will have to...in the next two years create a consensus for cooperation that involves finance and technology support to countries for adaptation,” he said.
The prime minister’s council, which includes ministers, environmentalists, industrialists and journalists, is likely to consider ways to increase energy efficiency without undermining growth and bolster the contribution of renewable energy sources.
It will also ponder ways to combat the effects of global warming, which threatens the livelihoods of hundreds of millions of people on the Indian subcontinent by melting glaciers that feed major rivers and causing frequent floods, droughts and heat waves.
Singh also said India should look at its energy policy to see whether it was contributing to environmental degradation.
“Are we encouraging overuse of resources through misdirected subsidies?” the prime minister said, calling for a debate on the energy pricing policy that is so often driven by populist political considerations.
“What are the long-term costs of the short-term benefits we seek from such policies?
“We need a much wider national debate on such issues.”
Editing by Alistair Scrutton and David Fogarty.
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