Brussels: The United States (US) is using India and China as an excuse not to cut its own emissions and sign an agreement that would extend the Kyoto Protocol past 2012, a former Indian environment minister said on 11 April.
Efforts to launch negotiations to extend the Kyoto agreement on climate change have floundered as nations resist committing to targets for cutting greenhouse gases.
The US says India and China, which are not required under Kyoto to cut their emissions, must be involved in a future pact.
“I’m quite certain that America is just using us as an excuse,” ex-minister Maneka Gandhi said in Brussels. “For America to say that ‘we are not going to move ... if India and China don’t move´ is ridiculous.”
Gandhi, who chaired a jury that is handing out environmental awards in Brussels on 11 Apri, said it is crucial that India switch to renewable fuels such as wind and solar to help meet a growing demand for electricity.
“We are on the upward swing, unfortunately, of providing more electricity, which will come mainly through coal-based plants,” she said. “If at this point we could get intervention and go strictly into wind and solar, I think, yes, we could head off the CO2 crisis.”
The US is the world’s largest greenhouse gas polluter, accounting for nearly a quarter of all carbon emissions, but experts say it could be overtaken by China and its rapidly growing economy within the year.
The European Union last week accused the US and Australia of hampering talks to extend Kyoto. U.S. President George W. Bush pulled out of the pact in 2001, arguing it would hurt the U.S. economy and unfairly excluded developing nations.
After the U.S. Supreme Court ruled earlier this month that the Environmental Protection Agency must regulate emissions, Bush repeated his long-held stance that U.S. action would be meaningless without changes by China and India.
Gandhi conceded the Asian nations had to work to fight global warming, but said U.S. pressure is counterproductive.
“Yes, India and China need to do something. We need to cut back on methane emissions, we need to plant more trees,” she said. “ But we’re not going to be pushed about by somebody else’s excuses.”