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India not in forefront at Bali: UN body chief

By Joydeep Gupta, IANS

Bali (Indonesia) : Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) that is holding its summit here Dec 3-14, said here Friday: “I haven’t heard India being very strong in the forefront of discussions (here at Bali).

“But they signed up with everyone else in support of negotiations” for the next two years to address climate change, Boer added.

The top official of the UN body that is holding the Bali summit being attended by over 10,000 delegates from 187 countries also said: “In the past, India has expressed concerns that a regime (to address climate change) will be created where India cannot develop and address its main concern of poverty alleviation”.

The comment by de Boer was in response to a question at a media briefing. The questioner said that China was being very aggressive in talking about its achievements and aims to address climate change, while India was totally quiet. He wanted to know what India was doing.

Reacting to de Boer’s comment, a member of the Indian government delegation, Additional Secretary in the Ministry of Environment and Forest R.H. Khwaja told IANS: “Of course we are concerned about sustainable development. Everybody knows that development is the best form of mitigation” of the emission of greenhouse gases (GHG) that warm the earth’s atmosphere and are leading to dangerous levels of climate change.

The Indian government has been under criticism at the Bali summit here, especially in comparison with China, which has been talking about what it has done in the field of energy efficiency and what it plans to do, even while seeking funds for developing countries to address climate change.

Reacting to this criticism, Prodipto Ghosh, a senior member of the Indian government delegation, and member of the Prime Minister’s council on climate change, referred to the Ficci (Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry) Task Force report that will be presented by him here next week. Ghosh chaired the task force.

The report says: “there are around 40 acts and policies and around 60 programmes and schemes across sectors, which have a thrust on greenhouse gas emissions reduction, energy efficiency, renewable energy and afforestation.”

The report lists the many measures undertaken by the government in the field of energy that help reduce global warming, such as better utilisation of resources by power generating plants, renewable energy, energy efficiency, coal conservation and development. India needs an integrated energy policy, it adds.

In the area of petroleum, the steps listed by the report include reduction of wastage, mandated purchase of biodiesel and the ethanol blended petrol programme.

The report talks of how the energy conservation building code is meant to improve energy efficiency. It refers to various programmes to develop the use of renewable energy sources.

The Ficci report outlines how various laws passed in India to protect the environment combats global warming by protecting forests and controlling pollution.

The report also lists policies that facilitative the development of biofuels as an alternate energy source, promotion of organic and resource-efficient agriculture.

The Ficci report refers to programmes that help people to adapt to climate change while helping reduction in global warming at the same time – the programmes for drought prone and desert areas and wastelands, as well as those for watershed development.

The report lists emerging opportunities and challenges related to climate change mitigation and the clean development mechanism (CDM) – meant to help reduce global warming – in different sectors in India, such as cement, iron and steel, oil and gas, power and pulp and paper, as well as various small scale sectors.

It also lists pros and cons technology options for greenhouse gas mitigation as well as research requirements for them.

The report recommends that the government should provide more incentive for a move towards greener technology and that the capacity to move towards this technology needed to be built up in the country. On some points, it criticises the way the CDM operates now.

In the foreword to the report, Ficci Secretary General Amit Mitra supports the position first articulated by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at the G-8 summit in Germany this June, by writing: “It is important that India and other developing economies push for a climate change regime that has convergence of greenhouse gas emission on equal per capita basis worldwide”.