Indian Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao on Monday said that for India, climate change is not merely an environmental issue, but is linked with the growth prospects and developmental aspirations people of the country, hence, its impact on the pace of our development is a clear and continuing concern.
Addressing at the 3rd MEA-IISS Seminar on "Perspectives on Foreign Policy for a 21st Century India", Ms. Nirupama Rao said: "Climate change is one of the most important global challenges facing us. For India, it is not merely an environmental issue, but is intrinsically linked with the growth prospects and developmental aspirations of our people. Its impact on the pace of our development is a very clear and continuing concern."
"Our developmental imperatives project a general trend of growth in energy consumption in India. We expect that fossil fuels will remain an important element of our commercial energy mix. The emerging paradigm of global action on climate change must, therefore, acknowledge every human's claim to global carbon space and take account of our differential capacities," said Ms. Rao.
"Despite 17% of the global population, our own GHG emissions today are currently only 4% of the global total. Even with 8-9% growth per annum, our energy use has been growing at less than 4% per annum. We are concerned that the developed countries tend towards ignoring, implicitly, the huge adaptation challenge that we face with climate change," she said.
"Today, we spend 2% to 2.5% of our GDP on meeting adaptation needs. There is need for stable and predictable financing from the developed countries, and this we believe should not rely on market mechanisms but, rather, on assessed contributions. There is also need for a global mechanism whereby climate friendly technologies can be disseminated to the developing countries," she added.
Ms. Rao said that as a country vulnerable to and already suffering from the impacts of climate change, India has an important stake in the success of the ongoing multilateral negotiations under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
"We are aware of our responsibilities as citizens of the globe and have participated in the negotiations in a constructive manner. It is in this spirit that we conveyed our voluntary mitigation obligations to the UNFCCC in January this year," she said.
Expressing India's disappointment over failure to accomplish an agreed programme of action mandated by the Bali Roadmap at Copenhagen, Ms. Rao said: "We were of course disappointed that an agreed programme of action mandated by the Bali Roadmap could not be achieved at Copenhagen. The Copenhagen Accord was perhaps the best that could be managed under the circumstances. It is a political document that can serve the purpose of contributing to the negotiations on the Kyoto Protocol and on Long Term Cooperation. It can complement these core international agreements but cannot be a substitute for them.
"Our collective effort should now be to bring the significant points of convergence reflected in the Accord into the larger multilateral process under the UNFCCC in order to ensure a balanced, comprehensive and above all, an equitable outcome, at the Mexico Conference by end-2010," said Ms. Rao.
Talking about India's efforts towards the cause of climate change, Ms. Rao said: "Nationally, we have adopted an ambitious Action Plan on Climate Change, which is not merely mitigation oriented, but is located within a larger perspective of sustainable development. Prime Minister has set up a high level Council on Climate Change to coordinate national action for assessment, adaptation and mitigation of climate change," a.
"Our announcement of the voluntary domestic target of reducing the energy intensity of our GDP growth, excluding emissions from the Agricultural sector, by 20-25% by 2020 in comparison to the level achieved in 2005 reflects India's seriousness in addressing the issue of climate change with commitment and focus, even as it seeks to meet the challenges of economic and social development and poverty eradication," Rao informed.
"Till date, the global energy market has been susceptible to non-market considerations which give energy issues an unpredictable and strategic edge. We believe that these vulnerabilities are best addressed through a participatory global energy model and by pursuing a truly open, transparent, competitive and globally integrated energy market. The reality as we know is quite the reverse. Therefore, we visualise that, as a developing country, an emissions reduction strategy to be comprehensive has to embrace both conservation and efficiency," she added.
"With a large and rising demand for energy, we assess nuclear technologies to be a viable long-term solution in helping us correct the skew in our energy mix. The underlying determinant in his calculus is the environmental dimension and the associated costs of large-scale deployment of traditional carbon fuels, particularly coal. In this regard, nuclear power generation, despite its high entry level costs, provides a way out, particularly in relation to the wider issues of global warming and climate change," Ms. Rao stated.