United Nations: Stressing that its per capita emission of major greenhouse gas carbon dioxide is among the lowest in the world, India has said it is committed towards sustainable development and sustainable patterns of production and consumption.
Indian Finance Minister P. Chidambaram told the developed nations, at a conference on climate change called by the United Nations on 24 September, that developing countries bear an “inordinate” share of burden of climate change due to high level of emission by the industrial countries.
“The developing countries are, therefore, obliged to significantly augment their capacity to cope with and adapt to climate change,” he said and stressed in this context the principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities.”
However, Chidambaram told the delegates, including several heads of the state, that India, being an energy deficient country, is obliged to explore every option available to produce and procure energy.
Stressing his point with statistics, he said in 2006-07, India produced 662 billion units of electricity from all sources for a population of over a billion people.
“Energy is the sine qua non of development. We are obliged to explore every option available to us to produce or procure energy. However, we are profoundly concerned about environmental degradation and climate change,” he said.
India, he said, has taken a number of measures that are inherently supportive of sustainability and development.
“We have insisted on use of CNG in public transport, we have metro rail in many cities and we have commenced a major bio-diesel programme including mandatory blending of ethanol in petrol,” he said.
As a part of its effort to stem climate change, India has launched a “green project” that will be the world’s largest afforestation project covering six million hectares of degraded forest land, Chidambaram said.
Besides, India has enacted an Energy Efficiency Code for new commercial buildings. Another act mandates procurement of electricity from renewable sources and has given a major fillip to wind energy sector,“ he said.
“This year, we set up a special committee to look into the impact of climate change. The committee will study the impact of anthropogenic climate change on India and identify the measures that we may have to take in the future. In addition, we have constituted a Council on Climate Change chaired by the Prime Minister to coordinate national action plans,” he said.
India, he said, upholds the view that adaptation is the key for developing countries but it needs to be adequately resourced without diverting funds meant for development. “In any case, development is the best form of adaptation.”
Adaptation, he emphasised, has been integral to India’s development process.
“We are challenged constantly by climate variability. We spend every year over 2% of our GDP in development measures with strong adaptation content like cyclone warning and protection, coastal protection, flood control, drought relief, and food security,” he said.