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India must invest in green technology - PM

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said on Tuesday the country must invest in its own environmentally friendly technologies, the latest in myriad pledges from one of the world’s biggest polluters to fight climate change.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh speaks during a national conference with ministers of environment and forests in New Delhi August 18, 2009. REUTERS/B Mathur

Singh’s comments underlined how India was seeking to undercut demands by rich nations for it to do more to curb carbon emissions. New Delhi has constantly resisted emissions targets, saying it will take its own unilateral action to cut pollution.

Global negotiations for a new U.N. agreement on climate change are stuck on the question of how much cash or technology rich nations will provide the poorer countries.

Singh’s comments also signalled that India, the world’s fourth-largest polluter, was willing to put in money to develop expensive clean technologies to supplement what it might get from rich countries.

“Our growth strategy can be different. It must be different,” the prime minister said, referrring to the western world’s decades of industrialisation that is blamed for climate change.

He said India’s energy use will rise sharply in the coming decades as it tries to lift a multitude out of poverty, but stressed a different development path must be walked.

“For this we need access to new technologies that are already available with developed countries. We must also make our own investments in new environment-friendly technologies,” he told a national conference on environment and forests in New Delhi.

India has already announced several steps to fight global warming, such as ramping up solar power investment, expanding forest cover and bringing in domestic energy efficiency trading.

“In dealing with the challenge of climate change and environmental degradation we face the unfair burden of past mistakes not of our making,” Singh said.

“However, as we go forward in the march of development we have the opportunity not to repeat those mistakes.”

With about 500 million people, or about half the population lacking access to electricity and relying on dirty coal to expand the power grid, India’s booming economy has huge potential to leap-frog to a low-carbon future.

But it says it needs a little hand-holding by rich countries to keep it on the right path.