WORLD / Asia-Pacific

India says to tackle poverty before global warming
Updated: 2006-05-16 20:43

India said on Tuesday that rich nations must lead a fight against global warming, telling a 189-nation U.N. conference that developing countries should instead give priority to ending poverty.

India said that it could not be expected to limit use of fossil fuels, widely blamed for stoking climate change, when 35 percent of its population lived on less than a dollar a day and many lacked electricity, clean water and other basics.

"Removal of poverty is the greater immediate imperative" than global warming, Prodipto Ghosh, Secretary of India's Environment Ministry, told talks in Bonn trying to work out new ways to fight climate change.

He said that India needed to use more energy to reach what he called "minimalistic" development goals. Those included cutting poverty, raising literacy rates to 75 percent by 2007 or increasing forest cover to 33 percent of the nation by 2012.

"There will inevitably be greater greenhouse gas emissions," he said. "Placing curbs on the growth of greenhouse gases will entail reduced economic growth." India has about a billion people, almost a sixth of humanity.

He said that industrial states had to do most to reduce emissions from power plants, factories and cars. He urged a "significant strengthening" of cuts in emissions by almost 40 nations which support the U.N.'s Kyoto Protocol.

The Bonn talks are discussing ways to widen U.N.-led action on global warming beyond rich nations which support the U.N.'s Kyoto Protocol to include developing nations and outsiders led by the United States and Australia.
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