Aarti Dhar

Basic negotiating point is our low per capita income

Between 1990 and 2005, emission intensity went down by 17.6 per cent

NEW DELHI: India on Thursday announced 20-25 per cent carbon emission intensity cuts on the 2005 levels by 2020. This would be done through a series of measures including mandatory fuel efficiency standards for all vehicles, a compulsory green building code and switching over to clean coal technology.

Following a four-hour debate in the Lok Sabha, Minister of State for Environment and Forests (Independent charge), Jairam Ramesh said if nations arrived at a “comprehensive and equitable agreement,” India would be willing to do more but only through voluntary measures.

Reiterating that India would never agree to any legally binding emission cut or accept any agreement that stipulated a ‘peaking’ year for carbon emission, he, however, said the country would be willing to be a “little flexible” depending on the concessions it got for its mitigation action, by way of technology and finance from developed nations.

“Our basic negotiating point is our low per capita income but if India wants to lead the developing nations, we have to offer something during negotiations,” Mr. Ramesh said, adding “India stood for a comprehensive, equitable agreement.”

Not too hopeful of an agreement at the summit beginning next week in the Danish capital, he said India would work overtime with like-minded countries like China, Brazil and South Africa. But India had to “engage with everybody else.”

“Just because we are members of G-77, [it] does not mean we cannot talk to the U.S., or every time we talk to the U.S. does not mean we are selling the country.”

The emission intensity reduction target has been arrived at by the Planning Commission, which conducted a variety of exercises.

Mr. Ramesh said between 1990 and 2005, emission intensity in the country had gone down by 17.6 per cent, even as the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and the population went up. “But this cannot be the only negotiating point. The GDP is low because the population is high. The country’s single biggest failure in the last 60 years has been that it could not control the birth rate,” he said.

Mr. Ramesh announced that the 12th Five-Year Plan would focus on a low-carbon strategy for economic growth. Based on the Planning Commission exercises during its Mid-Term Appraisal of the 11th Plan, the government concluded that intensity could be reduced, though the greenhouse gas emissions would continue to increase. “We will do it irrespective of the outcome at Copenhagen,” he said.

Mr. Ramesh said India was not ready to subject its domestically funded mitigation action to international review.

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