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May 7, 2009 / Mridul

India: US Should Aim At Reducing Carbon Emissions By 40%

India’s climate change envoy Shyam Saran has said that his country would like the United States to set ‘high-end’ emission reduction goals. Leading the Indian delegation into a gathering of largest polluting nations in Washington, Saran said that United States should aim to emissions targets between 25 to 40 percent.

In comparison, President Obama has called for a 14 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2020 while the European Union has set a 20 percent reduction target. China and India, world’s largest and third largest polluters respectively, have set no reduction targets and are not expected to agree to even lower targets at the Copenhagen meeting to discuss the next climate treaty.

Calls for the United States to recognize its historical responsibility and take bold actions to reduce its carbon emissions have risen significantly in recent times. Countries around the world have realized that President Obama intends to go the extra mile as far as environmental and climate change reforms are concerned and they various governments are pressing the Obama administration to transform his promises into real actions.

Secondly, there have been calls, especially by the EU, that India and China agree to some kind of emission reduction. It has proposed that advanced developing countries should agree to implement less stricter targets than the developed countries but they must exhibit the intent to act on the issue of rising carbon emissions from their industries.

Pressure on the Obama administration would continue into the Copenhagen meeting and given the targets set by the President himself, the United States would achieve at least some kind of reductions. The problem would arise when the advanced developing countries will oppose binding emission reductions.

The domestic carbon emissions of the developing countries do not pose a significant threat when compared to those generate by their industries. Their industries do not have access to the latest technology and are thus inefficient producing large amounts of carbon emissions which are destined to increase as these countries aim for higher economic growth rates.

A way to transfer this latest technology to the developing countries is the key to reducing their carbon emissions. This would also include a system to measure and report the carbon emissions that the developing nations emit which is yet another contentious issue.

While the developed nations argue that developing nations should get access to financial help only after they have reported that amounts of carbon emissions their industries or green projects have prevented from being released into the air, Indian and China argue that they would need financial support to set up green projects and buy carbon efficient technologies which then could be used in reducing carbon emissions.

India, China and other developing countries must realize that if they do not control their carbon emissions now they will become bigger polluters than the developed countries in the future. While asking developed nations to set high end reduction targets they can chip in with at least single digit emission targets of, say 5 to 7 percent. And the developed nations are willing to help them with monetary and technological support. Many experts have warned that a climate deal without the developing nations being a part of it would not work and could even negate the reductions achieved by the developed nations.

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