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Pachauri defends India’s climate stand
Published on 22 Jul. 2009 12:09 AM IST
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India will continue to use coal to meet its energy demands, says Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). "Can you imagine 400 million people who do not have a light bulb in their homes," Pachauri told reporters here Monday. "You cannot, in a democracy, ignore some of these realities and as it happens with the resources of coal that India has we really don't have any choice but to use coal in the immediate short term," he said. Since 2002, Pachauri has been the chairman of IPCC, the premier organisation that deals with the science of climate change. In 2007, the IPCC shared the Nobel Peace Prize with former US Vice President Al Gore for their services to environmentalism. Pachauri expects that New Delhi would put into action its National Action Plan on Climate Change, which has been delayed. "I'm reasonably confident that in the next month or two there will be action, and I think if that happens it should be India's commitment to dealing with the issue," he said. This would include major investments in the field of solar energy and improving energy efficiency. The leading scientist also defended India's Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh's position that the country would not be forced into reducing greenhouse gases. "I suppose what he (Jairam Ramesh) meant was that there is no case for pressure on India till those who were supposed to have taken action show their commitment to actually doing so," he said. The chairman pointed out that several developed countries did not sign the agreements for capping carbon emissions while other had not met their targets. At the same time, Pachauri criticised other half-baked attempts to deal with the climate crisis. For instance, he noted that world leaders had agreed that global average rise in temperature should not exceed two degrees Celsius but they had not set a course of action on how to achieve this objective. The IPCC has established a trajectory to meet this goal, which requires that global emissions should peak by 2015 and then decline rapidly. This means implementing the Bali Action Plan, a key document produced at a climate change conference hosted by the Indonesian government in 2007 that mandates deep emission cuts by 2020. "What I find a dichotomy in this position is the fact that they clearly ignored what the IPCC came up with," the scientist explained at the press briefing. "If the G8 leaders agreed on this two degree increase as being the limit that could be accepted then I think they should have also accepted the attendant requirement of global emissions peaking by 2015," he said.

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