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Ahead of Copenhagen climate talks, India softens its carbon stance

Just before Copenhagen climate talks open, major greenhouse-gas emitter India said Thursday it would aim to slow the growth of its carbon dioxide emissions over the next decade.

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Women labourers work at a road construction site in the western Indian city of Ahmedabad December 6. India set a goal on Thursday for slowing the growth of its greenhouse gas emissions, the last major economy to offer a climate target four days before the start of U.N. talks on combating global warming.

Amit Dave/Reuters

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Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, whose country is the world's number four greenhouse gas emitter, ended days of speculation Saturday by saying that he would attend the landmark climate change talks that open Monday in Copenhagen, Denmark.

The move follows his country's announcement Thursday it would aim to slow the growth of its carbon dioxide emissions over the next decade and beyond – signaling a softening of its hard-line stance on climate change negotiations.

India's environment minister, Jairam Ramesh, told parliament Thursday evening India would reduce its "carbon intensity" – the amount of carbon dioxide emitted for each unit of gross domestic product (GDP) – by up to 25 percent from 2005 to 2020.

He made clear this improvement would be made on a voluntary basis, and he reiterated that India, Asia's third biggest consumer of energy, would not agree to any legally binding emissions targets. But environmentalists nonetheless welcomed it.

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