Intervention at Major Economies Meeting on Climate Change
July 9, 2008
At the outset please allow me to express my appreciation for your personal engagement with the very serious issue of climate change.
A text for our declaration has been agreed by our officials after protracted negotiations. This has been done in a spirit of compromise and willingness to accept each others views. Even if some of our views have not been incorporated as we would have wished, we should adopt the text as it is.
I welcome the fact that we are all engaged in serious negotiations for enhanced implementation of the UNFCCC through long term cooperative action.
It is very important that the provisions and principles of the Convention, especially common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, are respected in these negotiations and their outcomes in letter and spirit.
The first and overriding priority of all developing countries is poverty eradication.
More than 600 million people in India are still without access to modern energy sources and a quarter of our population lives on less than a dollar a day.
The imperative for accelerated growth is even more urgent when we consider the disproportionate impact of climate change on us as a developing country with little choice but to devote even more and huge resources to adaptation in critical areas of food security, public health and management of scarce water resources.
And, this comes at a time when we are faced with an ever increasing energy bill putting our energy security at extreme risk.
Sustained and accelerated economic growth is, therefore, critical for all developing countries and we cannot for the present even consider quantitative restrictions on our emissions.
Moreover, there should be no detraction of public and private development transfers and flows. Rather there must be new and additional resources made available to developing countries.
We have not seen demonstrable progress on even the low levels of agreed GHG reduction from developed countries and, indeed, the prognosis is that their emissions as a whole will continue to rise even in the years to come.
This must change and you (the G8) must all show the leadership that you have always promised by taking and then delivering truly significant GHG reductions.
Let me assure you that as a responsible nation that is particularly mindful of its international obligations, India is committed to a path of sustainable development. Though India’s per-capita emissions are among the lowest in the world and we are certainly not free riders or major emitters, we have recently adopted a strong National Action Plan on Climate Change.
Our efforts, of course, would be greatly enhanced with global support, especially in terms of financial flows and technology access.
India is determined that even as we pursue our economic growth and development, our per-capita emissions will not go beyond those of the developed countries.
But, this convergence idea is also a challenge to the developed countries. The quicker you reduce your emissions, the greater the incentive for us to follow.
I am grateful to Chancellor Merkel, President Sarkozy and Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who have welcomed this approach.
If we are to honestly address the climate change challenge, it is important that we recognize the right to equal sustainable development and historical responsibility.
An equitable burden and carbon space sharing paradigm is also the key to realizing the ultimate objective of the Convention.
And, for real success, we have to eschew unsustainable consumption patterns and lifestyles worldwide.
I also believe that technology is a critical transformation agent for both mitigation and adaptation.
Collaborative R&D between developing and developed country institutions for affordable advanced clean technologies as well as their transfer, deployment and diffusion in developing countries needs to be expedited.
There is also a need for a fairer IPR regime for advanced clean technologies so that rewards for innovators are sufficiently remunerative and at the same time they are made available to developing countries at affordable cost. Indeed there is a strong case that critical technologies be treated as global public goods.
It is also important that standards and norms are reflective of the developmental context to which they apply.
Climate Change is a certainly huge challenge for all of us.
But it should not be used to add conditionalities to the already complex development challenges that we face in developing countries or maintaining economic status quo or attempting to introduce protectionism by another means.
We should look at it as a challenge and as an opportunity and work together for cooperative and collaborative action on an issue of great importance to the future of mankind.