India plans global warming roadmap by year-end
Fri Jul 13, 2007 10:38am EDT
NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India took the first step
towards developing a national plan to tackle the effects of global
warming and assess its own greenhouse gas emissions on Friday,
amid mounting international pressure.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's Council on Climate
Change held its first meeting in a bid to come up with a clear
plan ahead of a key United Nations climate change meeting in Bali
in December, but did not set any overall emissions targets.
Singh said given India's dependence on monsoon
rains, Himalayan glacier-fed rivers and its long coastline,
climate change would have a serious impact.
He said the country was already focusing on energy
sources capable of reducing emissions, such as hydro, nuclear and
solar power, but more had to be done.
"We must at the same time explore ways of new and
greener ways of development," Singh, who chaired the meeting, told
He called for a review of past efforts and plans
for the future to be ready by November.
A strategy to deal with the melting of Himalayan
glaciers, which feed many of Asia's major rivers and upon which
India's food security depends, should be developed, he said.
Singh added that an afforestation program called
"Green India" would be launched in August to replant 6 million ha
(15 million acres) of degraded forests.
He also said environmentally friendly strategies
should be incorporated in all future development.
India, whose economy has grown by 8-9 percent a
year in recent years, is one of the world's top polluters,
contributing around 4 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions
as its consumption of fossil fuels gathers pace.
But as a developing nation, India is not required
to cut emissions -- said to be rising by between 2 and 3 percent a
year -- under the Kyoto Protocol, despite mounting pressure from
environmental groups and industrialized nations.
"India is now responding to the urgency of the
situation," said Sunita Narain, council member and director of the
New Delhi-based think-tank, the Centre for Science and
"We have never been very good at stating our
position and it is the right time to articulate all the things
that India is doing and plans to do to mitigate and adapt to
NO EMISSIONS TARGET
The new national plan will not include any overall
emissions target -- the country says it must use more energy to
lift its population from poverty and that its per-capita emissions
are a fraction of those in rich states that have burnt fossil
fuels unhindered since the Industrial Revolution.
Instead the 21-member council, which includes
ministers, environmentalists, industrialists and journalists, is
likely to consider ways to increase energy efficiency without
undermining growth and bolster the contribution of renewable
It will also ponder ways to combat the effects of
global warming, which threatens the livelihoods of hundreds of
millions of people on the Indian subcontinent -- potentially one
of the most seriously affected regions in the world.
"Different ministries like environment and industry
and agriculture have all been working separately on climate change
so it has been difficult to communicate and coordinate one single
policy on the issue," said a senior environment official.
"This council will help us to reach a consensus
which suits all sectors and is in the best interests of India."
Receding Himalayan glaciers could jeopardize water
supplies for hundreds of millions of people and rising sea levels
menace Indian cities like Mumbai and Kolkata, as well as
neighboring Bangladesh, scientists warn.
Floods and droughts could become more common,
diseases more rampant and crop yields lower as temperatures rise,
December's U.N.-hosted meeting will be the first
step towards formulating a successor to the Kyoto plan, which
lapses in 2012.
China unveiled its own national plan for coping
with global warming earlier this year and has promised to hold
down per-capita emissions of greenhouse gases, but has also
resisted calls for a mandatory cap on carbon dioxide emissions.