"There is very little R&D effort on technologies that respond to the requirements and resource endowments of developing countries," External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee said while inaugurating the second ministerial meeting of the Asia-Pacific Partnership for Clean Development and Climate (APPCDC).
As a "remedy", Mukherjee suggested "collaborative R&D between developing and developed countries' R&D institutions". At the same time, he reminded the countries that there should be awareness to create "fairer balance between rewards for the innovators and the need to ensure the common good of humankind as far as the IPR (intellectual property rights) regime is concerned".
He added that such standards and priorities should "reflect the developmental context to which they apply". He described technology as "fundamental transformation agent" in tackling climate change. "This is all the more so for developing countries, where there is a large reliance on fossil fuels," he noted.
Launched in Sydney in January 2005, APPCDC is an association comprising India, China, the US, Japan, South Korea, Australia and Canada, and looks at reductions of greenhouse gas emissions through the transfer of technology as well as development of new technologies. Mukherjee said, "The partnership advances clean air objectives, while recognising the urgent and overriding priority of development."
He asserted that "adaptation is the critical imperative for developing countries", but that itself required technological and financial resources, which requires rapid development. Reiterating India's long-standing position of differentiated responsibilities between the North and South, he said the cooperation within the association will be "in accordance with national circumstances".
But, he also added that despite the seven major and emerging economies forming an association, "the only framework for negotiations" is the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). "This was also reaffirmed at the Major Economies Meeting called by President Bush in Washington recently. Our efforts here in this Partnership are consistent with the principles of the UNFCCC and complement the Kyoto Protocol," he said.
Incidentally, the US had pushed for the formation of APPCDC in 2005, partly as a reaction to criticism over not signing the Kyoto Protocol. An amendment to the UNFCCC, the Kyoto Protocol mandates compulsory emission reduction for developed and developing nations, based on the principle of "common but differentiated responsibility". Australia is also not a signatory of the Kyoto Protocol.
Articulating India's development and energy goals, Mukherjee said the country needed to sustain an "eight percent to 10 percent economic growth rate, for which we need to increase our per-capita energy consumption".
He said that India's per capita energy consumption is 530 kilogram of oil equivalent of primary energy, which is only a quarter of the global average of 1770 kgoe. Pointing out that half of Indians still do not have access to electricity, Mukhejee said that that while energy consumption was bound to increase, India was promoting energy efficiency, conservation and development of alternate energy resources.
He cited the introduction of the Energy Conservation Act of 2003, which eventually led to an explosion in the wind energy sector, with India now having the fourth largest wind generating electricity capacity in the world.