Remarks by Ambassador Arun K. Singh, Deputy Chief of Mission at International Climate Change Negotiations and US Domestic Legislation - A Policy Forum and Orientation Session
Let me begin by quoting to you the words of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, while releasing India’s National Action Plan for Climate Change on June 30, 2008:
“Climate Change is a global challenge. It can only be successfully overcome through a global, collaborative and cooperative effort. India is prepared to play its role as a responsible member of the international community and make its own contribution.”
There are two dimensions of the challenge of climate change for India: We are already facing the adverse consequence of the impact of the climate change that has taken place through the accumulated emissions from the industrialized countries and are spending around 2% of the GDP on adaptation.
Second, India will have to sustain a growth rate of 8-10% in order to meet its development challenges. This is an inescapable imperative to eliminate poverty and meet the basic needs of our people, including the 400 million people who currently have no access to commercial energy. But, we want to pursue a development path that preserves the environment and ecological balance.
India’s per capita emission of GHG is around 1.1 tonnes per year, nearly 15-18 times less than that of the highest emitters and nearly seven times less than that of OECD countries. Our energy intensity of economic growth has declined from 0.30 kg oil equivalent per unit of GDP in 1980 to 0.16 kgoe now, which is at par with the best performing OECD countries. Further, India is by no means a major emitter. We account for less than 5% of total global emissions, compared to around 20% each by the largest emitters. Further, several models have forecast that even by 2030, under the most ambitious growth projections, India’s per capita emissions would below the current international average.
Yet, combating climate change is one of the key priorities for the government, both in terms of national initiatives and working constructively in the multilateral forum.
We have launched an ambitious National Action Plan for Climate Change, unveiled by Prime Minister on 30 June 2008. We have also established a Prime Minister’s Council for Climate Change. The Action Plan includes both mitigation and adaptation measures and has eight technology missions: Solar Mission, Enhanced Energy Efficiency, Sustainable Habitat, Water Mission, Himalaya Ecosystem, Mission on Green India, Sustainable Agriculture and Mission on Strategic Knowledge. We are one of the few developing countries, which has increased its forest cover and our goal is to further increase it from 22% to 33% in the next ten years. We have set a goal of installing 20,000 MW of solar energy by 2020. This is in addition to further expansion in wind energy (where we are already one of the largest producers in the world) and biomass fuel. We are examining legislative, market-based and institutional mechanisms to achieve the target of increasing energy efficiency and introducing a wide range of green technology. Our thermal power plants will now be largely the cleaner and more efficient super-critical plants. We will increase the share of hydropower and expect to see a rapid expansion of nuclear power (where we hope to increase our capacity from 4000 MW now to about 20,000 MW in 2020). Over the next few months, we will be elaborating firm goals in each of the other national missions. We are doing all this on the basis of our own resources.
We are fully engaged in international negotiations to establish an effective, cooperative and equitable global approach based on the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities, enshrined in the UNFCCC, and on the basis of the Bali Action Plan. Our approach has the following elements:
· We hope that the developed countries would accept reduction targets of at least 40 per cent by 2020 with 1990 as the baseline. This is critical for achieving our common challenge.
· We also hope that consistent with the Bali Action Plan, there would be an agreement for adequate transfer of financial resources and technology to enable developing countries take mitigation measures, and that the problem of adaptation would not be crowded out by concerns over mitigation.
· India is fully committed to playing its role in achieving a successful outcome at Copenhagen and, more broadly, in developing international efforts to combat climate change.
· Given our huge development needs, our extremely low per capita emissions and the fact that 400 million people do not have access to commercial energy, India is not in a position of taking on binding emissions reduction target without seriously jeopardising its development prospects. It is not even required under the UNFCCC or the Kyoto Protocol.
· Our collective mandate is to enhance cooperation under UNFCCC, not re-negotiate it.
· Nevertheless, our Prime Minister has said that we will not allow our per capita emissions to exceed the average of the per capita emissions of the developed countries. So, the steeper the reduction in per capita emissions in developed countries, lower will be our cap. We have also agreed at the meeting in Italy in July 2009 to a goal of preventing the rise in global temperature should not increase by more than 2 degrees celcius and to the principle of “deviation from business as usual”, which will flatten the curve of emissions growth.
· Short of taking on binding emission reduction commitments, we are ready to discuss ways in which we can improve communications on national initiatives and the manner in which measures implemented under international resource transfers are evaluated. We already have a well-established system of evaluation of development projects implemented with international assistance.
· We also strongly support mechanisms for collaborative R&D efforts among developed countries and major developing countries for cost-effective solutions.
· We strongly oppose use of measures that would lead to “green protectionism”, because this would not be helpful either for climate change goals or for international trade.
· India will continue to take on ambitious national measures to increase energy efficiency, reduce energy intensity, increase forest cover and shift to renewable and cleaner sources of energy. As an open, parliamentary democracy, our plans and implementation will always be transparent and subject to the scrutiny of our people.
· We also hope that we can establish vigourous international cooperation to find solutions to the problem of climate change. We recognise that it can be an important instrument of generating economic benefits.