Climate change must enlarge, not constrict possibilities for development and empowerment: Ansari

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New Delhi, Sep.24 (ANI): Vice President Mohammad Hamid Ansari on Thursday said any action on climate change must enlarge, not constrict, the possibilities for development and empowerment of the world's poor.

Addressing the inaugural session of the Observer Research Foundation's "Global Summit on Sustainable Development and Climate Change" held at the Taj Mahal Hotel in New Delhi, Ansari said that the human aspiration for leading a life of dignity must not be the outcome of the dice of geography.

Lauding the appropriate timing of the conference, as it comes in the run up to the 15th Conference of Parties in Copenhagen, Ansari said: " Climate Change remains one of the most complex problems facing humankind today. It is expected to impact on the distribution and quality of natural resources, and consequently the developmental path of nations and the quality of lives of peoples across the globe."

"To developing countries like India, climate change imposes new challenges that may probably require negotiating new international and national political and economic arrangements, fashioning new technological interventions, and negotiating financial and technological transfers for mitigation and adaption to climate change," he added.

An incontrovertible premise in the debate is the right of every human being to a life of dignity. This needs to be assessed in terms of some basic indicators, he said:

·In terms of basic energy consumption for two essential requirements of household electricity and transport, the per capita energy use in India was around 18 tons of oil-equivalent per person in the year 2005. The corresponding figure for Pakistan was 41, for China 52, for Mexico 345, for Brazil 205 and the United States 1881.

·India, despite having 17 percent of the world population and a rapidly growing economy, has only four percent of global Green House Gas emissions as compared to US and China that account for over 16% each of global Green House Gas emissions.

·In per-capita terms, India's Greenhouse Gas emission of 1.1 ton/annum is miniscule when compared to over 20 tons for the US and in excess of 10 tons for most OECD countries.

·India's primary energy consumption growth rate was merely 3.7 percent per year despite a GDP growth rate, until recently, of around nine percent. This contrasts with the pattern seen in developed countries and even a few major developing countries where higher GDP growth has followed the traditional pattern of increased use of energy.

· Over 40 per cent of our population is without access to electricity.

He concluded by saying that sustainable development is premised on sustainable production and sustainable consumption patterns across all nations.

"Climate change negotiations have thus resulted in various countries adopting different negotiating positions. These have ranged between absolute emissions, per capita emissions, current emissions and historical emissions. Equity, nevertheless, remains the operative principle and every citizen of the globe has an equal entitlement to the planet's atmospheric space, a common resource of humanity," he said.

"At this early stage of development, India has the opportunity to exercise the right choices on climate change and sustainable development issues. The National Action Plan on Climate Change portrays this vision as creating "a prosperous, but not wasteful society, an economy that is self-sustaining in terms of its ability to unleash the creative energies of our people and is mindful of our responsibilities to both present and future generations," he further said, adding that "Our national objective, it states, is the establishment of "an effective, cooperative and equitable global approach based on the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, enshrined in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change".

Seminars are occasions for exchange of ideas. I on my part would like to raise a few for your consideration:

First, the question of equity and burden sharing is central to climate change debate. Lack of a global agreement on such an equitable formula is likely to cause the climate change negotiations to spill over to other multilateral, regional and bilateral negotiating platforms. This would further accentuate existing divisions such as North-South, East-West, Developed-Developing countries, etc.

Second, pursuit of equity at the international level needs to be reflected at the national level. There is significant variation in Greenhouse Gas emissions of various states within the country. In the year 2000, for example, a study has estimated that the per capita emission of Madhya Pradesh was over 16 times that of Assam. As part of the national debate on climate change, we should discuss whether urban areas and heavily industrialised states that significantly contribute to Greenhouse Gas emissions should have different financial and other responsibilities on climate change as compared to rural areas and economically less developed states.

Third, the climate change debate so far has been primarily government-focused with some participation of the civil society.

This needs to be broadened to include the legislature, people's groups and grass root movements so that adaptation and mitigation options are discussed by those who are directly affected by climate change. The debate must be as inclusive as possible to enhance its legitimacy and credibility. (ANI)

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