India Will Not Accept Binding Greenhouse Gas Emission Cuts

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Aug. 3 – With less than 5 months until the anticipated Climate Conference in Copenhagen scheduled for December, India announced its steadfast position that it cannot accept any “legally binding” greenhouse gas emission reductions but assured that its carbon footprint would never exceed that of developed nations.

In a joint press conference with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh was quoted by PTI as saying that that New Delhi was “simply not in a position” to accept any legally binding emission reductions. He asserted, “In 2020, it’s conceivable that we might look at a limited target. But in 2009, no way.”

Ramesh stressed India has been following all its environmental obligations and that the country’s practices are firmly anchored in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Bali Action Plan. Both India and China, however, share in the belief that mandatory cuts are unfair and could prevent future economic growth.

The Financial Times indicates that India and China are unhappy over what they perceive as Western pressure to join in a global deal, while those Western countries failed to meet their own emissions targets.

Noting that the developed Western world bears significant responsibility in global warming, India and China feel it is unfair for pressure to lie solely on their shoulders to meet emission targets.

To counter this sentiment, Secretary Clinton has offered technological help to India to reach its targets and assured Indian officials that the country’s economic growth would not be risked by low carbon emissions.

It should be noted that India’s per capita emissions are relatively low in contrast to developed nations. The average Indian creates one metric ton of carbon dioxide for every 20 metric tons the average American creates, reports Treehugger. It is India’s burgeoning over 1 billion population, however, that places it among the largest polluters in the world.

The new UN climate treaty to come out of the Copenhagen talks may come to a deadlock unless developed and developing countries can decide who takes the burden of the emissions reductions while creating an agreement that benefits all.