NEW DELHI: Indian Premier Manmohan Singh said for the first time today he was willing to commit his country to ambitious global carbon emission cuts, provided others shared the burden.
Home to nearly 1.2 billion people, India is the only major greenhouse gas emitting nation yet to announce figures on reining in its carbon output, with just over a week to go until UN climate talks start in Copenhagen.
“India is willing to sign on to an ambitious global target for emissions reductions or limiting temperature increase but this must be accompanied by an equitable burden sharing paradigm,” Singh said in a speech, the text of which was released by his office in New Delhi.
Singh gave no indication of any figures India might propose, or whether it would be an absolute cut, like those Europe and Japan have on the table, or a proportional cut like that offered by China.
India’s CNN-IBN and Times Now television networks, however, reported Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh was set to offer overall cuts of between 20 and 25 per cent, but a ministry official said she was unaware of any such commitment.
Singh was speaking in Port of Spain, the capital of Trinidad and Tobago, where he was attending a Commonwealth summit.
India has been under pressure to pledge emission curbs after announcements earlier in the week by China and the United States, the world’s top two sources of greenhouse gases. The country is considered critical to any progress at the UN-sponsored talks, which begin on December 7.
China, whose premier Wen Jiabao will attend the Copenhagen summit, has said his country will cut the level of carbon dioxide emissions per unit of gross domestic product in 2020 by 40 to 45 per cent from 2005 levels — in effect an energy efficiecny pledge.
US President Barack Obama is to go to Copenhagen armed with a long-stated offer to cut US emissions by 17 per cent from 2005 levels by 2020.
But the White House has said Obama will also lay out a longer-term plan for a 30 per cent reduction of US emissions from 2005 levels by 2025, a 42 per cent reduction by 2030 and an 83 per cent cut by 2050.
India has refused to accept binding emission cuts that it says would slow its economic growth and has instead highlighted mitigation measures under its National Action Plan on Climate Change such as solar power.
It says rich countries historically responsible for global warming should be responsible for funding mitigation in developing countries.
The Copenhagen summit aims to produce a post-2012 accord to slash emissions responsible for global warming.