India Can't Commit to Kyoto Targets, Says U.N. Climate Head
NEW DELHI — India will be unable to commit to greenhouse gas emission targets when the first phase of the Kyoto treaty ends in 2012 as its energy-hungry economy is developing fast, the top U.N. climate expert said on Thursday.
Under the Kyoto climate change protocol which came into force in February, developed countries will try to reduce greenhouse gas output by 5.2 percent of 1990 levels by 2008-12.
But developing countries such as India and China are exempt from the treaty's emission targets because they say their economies will take a serious hit if they change their energy policies.
As its fuel imports grow and demand for cars surges, experts say India -- whose economy is projected to grow at over six percent annually over the next few years -- could be under pressure to join rich nations in efforts to lower emissions in the next phase of the Kyoto treaty after 2012.
"We (India) are a large political entity but should we be penalised on that account?" Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, told Reuters in an interview.
"People here are not responsible for even 1/20th of the extent of the greenhouse gases that, say, someone in North America is probably emitting."
Pachauri said developed countries had to take the lead in cutting carbon emissions that scientists say are causing the world to heat up.
"We are not historically responsible for this problem. So the first steps have to be taken by those who are historically responsible -- the developed countries."
"If the developed countries do nothing and expect us to take the burden, that's clearly unacceptable ... we are a large country, a poor country, an energy-scarce country and, therefore, a lower-emitting country in terms of per capita emission."
The United States has refused to accept any targets which could damage its economy, saying there is no point in agreements which do not include major developing economies such as China and India.
WELCOMES G8 DECLARATION
Pachauri, who environmentalists said became head of the climate change panel because Washington engineered his victory, welcomed the Group of Eight (G8) nations' declaration this month that global warming required urgent action.
The Indian environmentalist has denied that the United States lobbied for his election and said support from developing countries helped him become chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 2002.
The G8 meeting in Scotland pledged to "act with resolve and urgency" to reach common goals that include reducing greenhouse gases, but did not set any measurable target or timeframe.
The eight most powerful nations said it was in the world's interest to work in partnership with major emerging economies -- a reference to China and India, which are expected to expand their greenhouse gas output rapidly with economic growth.
"The G8 focused on climate change which is a very far-reaching development because they have not done it in the past," Pachauri said.
"They invited five major developing countries including India, which gave us an opportunity to state our position very effectively."