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India seeks cooperation from America in research projects, environmental planning and building institutional capacities

New Delhi
July 19, 2009 
(Press Information Bureau)

India’s per Capita Emissions to Remain Below Developed Country Averages for Next Two Decades : Jairam Ramesh 

India is very conscious of the local impacts of climate change within the country and will never allow its per capita emissions to exceed that of the developed countries. In his opening remarks at ITC Green Building event organized in connection with the visit of U.S. Secretary of State, Mrs. Hillary Clinton at Gurgaon today, Shri Jairam Ramesh, Minister of State for Environment and Forests ( Independent charge) made it clear that India’s position on the on-going climate change agreement negotiations is clear, credible and consistent. Embedded in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Bali Action Plan, we are fully alive to our global responsibilities as well. We have done detailed modeling, the results of which are being released very soon, he said. The results are unambiguous. Even with 8-9% GDP growth every year for the next decade or two, our per capita emissions will be well below that of developed country averages he assured. There is simply no case for the pressure that we, who have among the lowest emissions per capita, face to actually reduce emissions. The Minister added as if this pressure was not enough, we also face the threat of carbon tariffs on our exports to countries such as yours.

Talking about India’s economic growth he said we are ensuring that our economic growth path is ecologically sustainable—GDP is increasingly Green Domestic Product, not just Gross Domestic Product. Apart from vastly greater financial flows from the developed world, we see a critical role for international technology cooperation in enabling countries like India to adapt to climate change. In collaboration with the UN, the Government of India is hosting an International Conference on Climate Change and Technology on October 22-23rd, 2009. The New Delhi Statement on Technology and Climate Change will, we hope, be reflected in the Copenhagen Agreement. 

Giving details of our comprehensive National Action plan on Climate Change, Shri Ramesh explained that it is driven primarily by our adaptation imperatives but it does not neglect what we should do on our own for mitigation also. The plan is being converted into a large number of specific programmes and projects. All this is in the public domain. The energy sector is key. Our focus is on making technology leaps to ensure lower emissions. Our biggest power utility, National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) has the second lowest carbon dioxide intensity in the world—that is, emissions per megawatt of power generated. Our energy consumption per unit of GDP has been falling significantly. Regarding leading steps in technologies,Shri ramesh added we are world leaders in fast breeder reactor technology. We are also establishing a 182 MW commercial power plant based on indigenously developed Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) technology. WE have launched a major initiative on extracting carbon dioxide from flue gases for propagating algae in bioreactors. Our renewable energy commitment goes back over two and half decades. Sustainable forestry management is of profound importance to us. We are just embarking on a close to $ 3 billion programme (and $ 3 billion to begin with) to regenerate our natural forests that already cover some 165 million acres –roughly the size of Texas. This is one of the largest carbon sinks in the world—and a sink that will only grow in size and impact. In this connection, I seek your support for India’s proposals to the UNFCCC and Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries, REDD+, that is to acknowledge and reward countries who are in the business of actually expanding forest cover. 

Shri Jairam suggested that India seeks to engage the world community proactively in the climate change area. He said we also seek to engage the United States of America purposively in three areas where these two countries can cooperate. 

Elaborating these areas, the Minister said the there are numerous opportunities for joint research, development, demonstration and dissemination projects. This could be in areas like solar energy, biomass, clean coal, high voltage power transmission, smart grids, wastewater utilization, etc. Shri Ramesh proposed to jointly explore the feasibility of establishing an Indo-US Foundation for Climate Change Technology with initial kick-start contributions from our respective governments. This will catalyze private investment into the corpus as well. The focus on this Foundation should be on transformative, discontinuity technologies that will enable leap-frogging. 

Throwing light on the second area the Environment Minister proposed collaboration in the area of environmental planning, regulation and management. He informed that we are thinking of establishing our own independent, professional, science-based national environmental protection authority. We are planning to set up a National Green Tribunal as some sort of an environmental court. I am convinced that we have much to learn from your long experience in this area. We can also collaborate in the on-going renewal of our vast forestry and biodiversity science and management establishment. 

The third and last area is for building institutional capacity for continuing research on climate change and its impacts as being of fundamental importance. Shri ramesh said his has to be done by us primarily. He expressed a hope that the US should not overlook the importance of research in the public domain—after all this is what made the Green Revolution possible in the first place. Shi Ramesh believed that this is what will make the Ever Green Revolution, with its underpinning in ecological sustainability and equity, also possible. That is why India has proposed the idea of global technology innovation centers working. He added that America’s support is crucial to get such centers going for the benefit of millions of ordinary people.