India could set the pace for key developing countries by moving to a low carbon economy and opening the door to a new deal on global warming, British Environment Minister David Miliband said on Thursday.
LONDON -- India could set the pace for key developing countries by moving to a low carbon economy and opening the door to a new deal on global warming, British Environment Minister David Miliband said on Thursday.
Speaking before a visit to the South Asian country, he said its economy was growing by 9 percent a year, it was investing heavily in renewable energy and millions of its people were at risk from climate change.
"I think India can be a leapfrog economy -- leapfrog not just in terms of its levels of growth but leapfrog in terms of a development path that is low carbon," Miliband told Reuters.
"Because 25 percent of the Indian population live in coastal areas and 27 percent of the Indian economy is agriculture, climate change and rising sea levels are desperately dangerous for the Indian people and the India economy," he said.
Most scientists agree temperatures will rise by between 2 and 6 degrees Celsius this century, mainly because of carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels for power and transport, putting millions of lives at risk from flood and famine.
A rising star in the British government, Miliband flies to India at the weekend for the three-day Delhi Sustainable Development Summit next week.
"The British government wants to have a real partnership of equals with the Indian government in coming to terms with climate change and global warming," Miliband said.
"We think that there is a moral and economic responsibility for the industrialised countries to show that they are willing to take the lead in cutting carbon emissions.
"But there is also a requirement that all countries are part of a global emissions reduction deal."
The Kyoto Protocol is the only global deal on reducing carbon dioxide emissions, but the United States withdrew from it and booming emitters China and India are not bound by it.
It expires in 2012 and negotiations to find a way forward, or a successor, are sluggish.
"It is vital that there is a real engagement with the issue of how you combine development goals and climate change goals," Miliband said. "My message will be if you want to be pro-growth you have got to be pro-green."
Miliband said this year would be crucial for climate diplomacy with a series of key reports and top-level meetings.
"We have got to realise that 2007 is a very important year for the debate about how the international community tackles climate change, and India is a vital player in that," he said.
"We want to take a lead ourselves. We want to ensure that all the other industrialised countries like the Americans and Canadians are playing their full part."
Miliband highlighted the summit in Germany in June of the Group of Eight industrialised nations, followed in December by a meeting of environment ministers under the auspices of the United Nations on the Indonesian island of Bali.
India -- along with key developing economies South Africa, China, Mexico and Brazil -- will be at both meetings.
"It seems to me vital that the June meeting send a very clear signal to negotiators...in Bali in December about what the bones of a framework are," Miliband said.