Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday again admonished the West for living the high life and not paying for it.

In a brief 600-word statement he told the Plenary of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) that “current consumption levels in the industrialised world are unsustainable.”

U.S. President Barack Obama and the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, did not attend.

He also rapped the West for not paying its dues. “Many countries could do more if additional finance and technology were available. Unfortunately, there is little evidence of support from the industrialised countries in these areas. The ongoing economic crisis has made matters worse.”

The reference was clear – the West did not pay when it had the money, so now that it doesn’t how will it do so?

His speech in many was a reiteration of the long established Indian stand, namely, that development, social inclusion and environmental sustainability are all equally critical. “The task before us is to give practical shape and content to this architecture in a manner that allows each country to develop according to its own national priorities and circumstances.”

At the global level, he said the problem would have to be guided by equitable burden sharing.

That is what the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities means, he said. “I am happy we have reaffirmed this principle as well as the principle of equity during this Summit,” Dr. Singh said.

India was doing its bit, he told the gathering. Between 1994 and 2007, India’s emissions-to-GDP intensity, excluding agriculture, declined nearly 25 per cent. “Looking ahead, we have set a target to further reduce the emissions intensity of GDP by 20-25% between 2005 and 2020,” he said.

Local pollution control measures impose costs on the economic actors, who are mostly small. They would have to be helped by targeted action via policy, he urged.

Keywords: Rio+20 summit

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