External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna told world leaders here that India continued to face enormous developmental challenges and poverty eradication remains the nation’s top priority.
“Nearly 200 millions live on less than one dollar a day and nearly 500 millions do not have access to modern sources of energy,” he said.
“Our overriding priority, therefore, has to be eradication of poverty for which we must address our energy poverty and use all sources of energy, including fossil fuels,” he added.
Mr. Krishna was speaking at a Round Table during the Climate Change summit at the United Nations. The high-level summit, which featured more than 100 world leaders, was convened to mobilise political will ahead of the Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen.
The meeting in the Danish capital is expected to yield a climate treaty to succeed the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012.
Mr. Krishna said the outcome in Copenhagen “must also ensure that developing countries can pursue accelerated development also so that they have the resources to cope with and adapt to climate change.”
“The creation of mechanisms along with provision of financial resources and access to technology which will enable us to upscale our national efforts is an important expectation that we have from Copenhagen,” he added.
The minister called on developed countries to deliver on significant reduction in their emissions of at least 40 per cent by 2020 from the agreed 1990 baseline.
“We cannot get away from the fundamental fact that unsustainable lifestyles and patterns of production and consumption in the developed world have caused climate change,” he said. “This cannot continue.”
The foreign minister also noted that New Delhi was taking many domestic adaptation and mitigation actions on a voluntary basis.
These include solar energy, extensive deployment of renewables, use of clean coal technologies, boosting energy efficiency and promotion of green agriculture. He noted that domestic actions should not be “crimped by an international review obligation“.
Mr. Krishna concluded that the onus for action should be on the developed countries that have not met their commitments regarding emission, and not be shifted onto developing countries, which have contributed little to climate change.
“The way forward must ensure that developing countries can pursue growth and poverty eradication,” he said. “There is a tide of change in world economic relations. Climate negotiations should not seek to stem this tide.”