India unveils climate action plan


India has unveiled a major new national strategy for tackling climate change centred on an increase in solar capacity and improved energy efficiency - but lacking any clear targets for curbing emission growth.

Speaking at the launch of the new National Action Plan, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh reiterated the Indian government's view that efforts to mitigate climate change would not come at the expense of the country's economic growth. "Our vision is to make India's economic development energy efficient" - he said. "Our people have a right to economic and social development and to discard the ignominy of widespread poverty."

He also signalled India's support for the Contraction and Conversion model for curbing emissions, which argues that emissions from developing countries should fall to a point where per capita emissions have converged with those in developing economies.

Singh insisted that under the new plan, India would effectively conform with this model by ensuring that its per capita greenhouse gas emissions would not exceed the per capita greenhouse gas emissions of the developed industrialised countries. "This should be testimony enough, if one was needed, of the sincerity of purpose and sense of responsibility we bring to the global task on hand" - he added.

As well as a commitment to increased investment in solar power and improved energy efficiency, the action plan also commits India to launching new sustainable habitats, improving water resource management, safeguarding Himalayan glacier and mountain eco-systems and enhancing support for other eco-systems, adapting agricultural practices to make them more resilient to climate change and establishing a new body for researching new agricultural techniques.

The launch of the document comes as reports emerged claiming that the G8 group of industrialised nations is preparing to invest more than $10bn to support the development and deployment of clean technologies - primarily in emerging economies such as India and China.

According to Japanese paper Nikkei, a draft statement on the issue is being considered for publication at the upcoming meeting of G8 leaders in Hokkaido, northern Japan. The newspaper added that the draft statement also includes an agreement to set national interim goals for carbon emissions for the period between 2020 and 2030.

The news suggests that Japan, the US and UK have secured wider support for their plans for an international climate change fund designed to help developing nations cut emissions, while also adapting to the effects of climate change.