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.
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.
"We would argue this is a positive step forward; a show of positive intent," says Ankar Ganguly of Greenpeace India. "In the past, developing countries have been used as a shield by the rest of the world to hide behind as an excuse for inaction, but this is saying, 'Let's move things forward, let's talk.'"
A replacement for Kyoto?
The two-week summit in Copenhagen is aimed at replacing or extending the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012. But ahead of the talks, developed and developing countries have disagreed on issues including targets on emissions and financial aid from rich countries to help poorer countries mitigate the effects of global warming.