India says link climate to food, energy for G8 deal

NEW DELHI Mon Jul 7, 2008 8:46pm IST

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - A meaningful global deal to fight climate change will be impossible if it is not linked to food and energy security, India will tell the Group of Eight summit, a stand that rich nations say will make a pact difficult.

Climate change is high on the agenda of the annual G8 summit in Japan starting Monday with hopes of a deal on reducing greenhouse gas emissions that would be acceptable to rich nations and fast-growing economies such as China and India.

"Climate change, energy security and food security are interlinked, and require an integrated approach," India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said before leaving for the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido on Monday for the summit.

"In our view there can be no solution without taking into account the developmental imperatives and aspirations of developing economies."

A global deal on capping emission levels has not been possible because rich nations say India and China must commit to cut their emissions first, a demand the two countries reject, saying they must burn fossil fuels to keep their economies growing and lift millions out of poverty.

Few now expect real progress until a new U.S. administration takes office in January next year. Diplomats and green groups are hopeful talks next year will make quick progress towards agreeing a broader pact to replace the Kyoto Protocol at a U.N.-led meeting in Copenhagen at the end of 2009. Kyoto's first phase ends in 2012.

As a developing nation, India is not yet required to curb emissions -- said to be rising by between 2 and 3 percent a year -- under the Kyoto Protocol, despite mounting pressure from environmental groups and industrialized nations.

"For us, the foremost priority is the removal of poverty, for which we need sustained rapid economic growth," Singh said.

Analysts and activists say hopes of a deal at the G8 summit were dim.

DIFFERENT AGENDAS

"Every side will push its own agenda -- the Japanese their sectoral emission cap, the Americans their nuclear energy route, Indians their development priority," said K. Srinivas of Greenpeace's climate and energy campaign.

"It is unlikely the standoff will be resolved."

A senior U.S. official said on Monday in Hokkaido that nuclear energy was an essential component of cutting greenhouse gas emissions, along with carbon capture and storage and scaling up renewable energy projects.

"Any country that has the capacity and capability of using nuclear if you want to achieve deep cuts in emissions should use it," James Connaughton, chairman of the Council on Environmental Quality, told reporters at the G8.

India's new national climate change plan focuses on renewable energy for sustainable development, but coal remains the backbone of India's power sector -- accounting for about 60 percent of generation -- with the government planning to add 70,000 megawatts in the next five years.

India is also trying to win domestic approval for a stalled nuclear energy deal with the United States.

A Goldman Sachs report says climate change could deplete India's cultivable land area and productivity, reduce labor productivity and increase the threat of toxic and chemical waste in the environment.

India, whose economy has grown by 8-9 percent annually in recent years, contributes around 4 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, but says its levels will never go beyond those of the developed countries.

(Additional reporting by Tabassum Zakaria in Hokkaido; Editing by Alistair Scrutton and David Fogarty)

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