India prime minister unveils plan to
combat climate change
Jun 30, 2008 - The Associated Press
NEW DELHI (AP) — India's prime minister announced a plan
Monday to combat global warming by focusing on renewable
energy, even as he stood by a refusal to commit to greenhouse
gas emission targets that could stall the country's economic
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh laid out an eight-point
plan that he said would enable India to shift away from
fossil fuels and embrace solar energy and sustainable
development without sacrificing the rapid economic growth
of recent years.
"Our vision is to make India's economic development
energy-efficient," Singh said, releasing the National
Action Plan. "But I also believe that ecologically sustainable
development need not be in contradiction to achieving
our growth objectives."
The plan will focus on a host of issues including water
conservation, protecting the Himalayan ecosystem and sustainable
agriculture, he said. He gave no cost estimates, timetable
or specific benchmarks for implementation.
India's has the world's fourth-largest emissions of
the greenhouse gases blamed for global climate change.
With a soaring economy that many predict will continue
to grow in coming years, the government says energy consumption
could quadruple over the next generation.
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With that growth in mind, Western leaders have called
for India, along with China, to set strict emission caps.
But India has maintained that it needs rapid development
to fight poverty among its 1.1 billion people and that
its per-capita emissions are far lower than those in rich
India produces roughly 1.2 tons of emissions per capita
annually, while the United States produces about 20 tons
per capita and the world average is 4 tons. India produces
about 4% of the world's greenhouse gases.
Singh said Monday that emissions standards had to "fair
and equitable" — an apparent reference to what India sees
as the West's unfair demands that it limit its emissions
at the same rate as more developed countries which produce
far more greenhouse gas.
"Our people want higher standards of living, but they
also want clean water to drink, fresh air to breathe and
a green earth to walk on," Singh said.
Singh repeated his government's pledge that greenhouse
gas emissions at a per capita level will not exceed those
of developed countries.
Emissions of carbon dioxide and other pollutants — mostly
from burning fossil fuels for electricity and transportation
— are blamed for rising global temperatures that threaten
A U.N. report has estimated that emissions cuts of between
25% to 40% by 2020 are needed to stop global temperatures
from rising so high they trigger widespread environmental
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