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Manmohan Singh to Meet UN Chief, Discuss Climate Change

Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh will meet Chinese President Hu Jintao and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on the sidelines of the 33rd Group of Eight (G-8) Summit on Thursday, besides giving India's viewpoint on greenhouse gas emissions and other aspects of global climate change.

An External Affairs Ministry background paper states that while India has 17 per cent of the world's population, it emits only four per cent of global greenhouse gases, suggesting therefore, that its per capita emissions are small, just one-quarter of the world average, and four per cent of that in the U.S.

On the other hand, India's GDP has exceeded eight per cent a year in the last three years, but the rate of increase in primary energy consumption is pegged at just 2.76 per cent.

What Manmohan Singh may seek from the developed world is freer access to patent protected energy-saving technology when he meets the G-8 leaders on Friday.

German Chancellor and summit host Angela Merkel has been working to get fellow G-8 leaders to agree to limit global warming, and not let temperatures rise more than two degrees Celsius, a plan that would require halving greenhouse emissions by 2050. She has met with a lukewarm response, especially from the U.S., where greenhouse emissions have risen 1.6 per cent a year since 2000, and by two per cent annually as far as the other G-8 countries are concerned.

Dr. Singh is likely to speak about India's own earnestness to raise the efficiency of energy use, drawing attention to the National Environment Policy of 2006, from which several initiatives have flowed.

India has clarified that it will not allow growth and development prospects in the developing world to be undermined or constrained at the cost of greenhouse emissions.

India has blamed the "unsustainable production and consumption patterns" in the developed world for the problem of climate change. The K yoto Protocol, the world's first treaty mandating developed countries for emission cuts by 2012, has exempted developing countries, but bound them to opt for clean environment mechanisms.

The Bush Administration is reportedly adamant that all key polluting countries, which includes China, India, Brazil, Mexico, and South Africa, all the members of outreach summit, would have to be involved in any long-term agreement on climate change. The position document issued by India clearly states that India is committed to the UN framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol. It further states that "currently India's per capita greenhouse emissions are only 23 percent of the global average, four percent of U.S. emissions, 12 percent of emissions in the European Union and 15 percent of emissions in of Japan.

All eyes are also likely to be on the outcome of Dr. Singh's meeting with President, George Bush on Friday, where the proposed deal on civilian nuclear cooperation is expected to figure.

It remains to be seen what India's stand will be at the G-8 conference and outreach summit at Heiligendamm, which is 250 kilometers from Berlin.


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