Beijing: India is being strategically pushed into announcing voluntary targets to curb its carbon footprint as China makes moves to lead developing nations in negotiating a major climate deal in Copenhagen next month.
“I don’t think we can sweep (aside) the fact that our peer group of nations like China, Indonesia, Brazil and South Africa have clearly put down voluntary, unilateral, non-legally binding and quantitative targets,” said minister of state for environment Jairam Ramesh in Beijing on Friday. “It has implications for us. We can’t run away from it,” said Ramesh to the media, after a “completely unexpected” meeting with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao that lasted over an hour.
Tackling numbers: Minister of state for environment Jairam Ramesh. Harikrishna Katragadda / Mint
The minister said he told Wen that India is also looking at outcomes and emissions/energy intensity. “We have the numbers. We have done the homework,” said Ramesh. “There is a lot of room for reducing energy and emissions intensity in India without jeopardizing 7-8% GDP (gross domestic product) growth. Whether, how and when we announce, has to be decided.”
India’s targets will be lower than China’s. “By 2020, China will be where India is today in terms of emissions intensity,” said Ramesh.
Carbon intensity is the amount of carbon dioxide emitted per unit of economic growth. This week, China promised to cut 40-45% of its carbon intensity below 2005 levels by 2020.
The Chinese leadership has taken charge and invited negotiators from India, South Africa, Brazil and Sudan to Beijing on Saturday, to strategize for Copenhagen when nations will plan targets to curb manmade emissions that cause global warming.
“Clearly, this is part of a new Chinese leadership-cum-publicity relations exercise,” said Ramesh. India’s approach too will be domestic and voluntary.
Wen, who will attend the summit, extolled China’s “seriousness” to combat climate change and conveyed his regards to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Singh is considering an invitation to attend the Copenhagen conference, Ramesh was cited as saying by PTI.
“Our Prime Minister has received the invitation to go to Copenhagen. He has been invited to attend the summit of the heads of state on December 18,” Ramesh said. On 18 November, China’s foreign minister Yang Jiechi wrote a three-page letter on climate change to his Indian counterpart S.M. Krishna.
India and China will not accept absolute emission cuts. But Ramesh emphasized it was time for India to move from talk to quantifying outcome in energy or emissions intensity. China is ahead of India in plans to mitigate climate change impact and is working on reducing energy intensity by 20% of 2005 levels by 2010.
PTI contributed to this story.