"We need to adapt to climate change in areas like agriculture, water supply, public health and the entire economy of coastal areas," Prabhu said at a workshop on climate change and human development attended by journalists of 12 Asian countries. He added that the record of all countries on adapting to climate change was "abysmal".
"The challenges posed by climate change are very different in developed and developing countries," the former minister pointed out. He suggested combating climate change through the Kyoto Protocol and achieving human development through the millennium development goals (MDG) of the United Nations must go hand in hand.
Prabhu, now a Shiv Sena parliamentarian, said it was important that national leaders did not say different things when they wore different hats.
"They go to a climate change conference and say they should combat global warming. Then they go to a business conference and say they have to increase power generation, though they know it will lead to global warming. This has to stop."
Asked about his position on nuclear energy in the backdrop of the stalled India-US civil nuclear deal, Prabhu said: "All forms of energy have their problems. When it comes to nuclear power, the three main problems are initial cost, the safety factor and what to do with radioactive waste." "But from the point of view of combating global warming, it is the best option. So one has to do trade-offs."
The political leader, who is known for his environmental concerns, called upon developed countries to help the developing world mitigate global warming by transferring new technologies "without shackling them under intellectual property rights".
Earlier, opening the workshop, UN Development Programme (UNDP) chief in India Maxine Olson said the organisation's benchmark human development report dealt with climate change and human development this year because that was the most challenging issue facing humanity now.
Describing UNDP's role in combating global warming, Olson said the organisation aimed to increase "peoples' capacity to withstand climate change and move into other professions and other places".