Climate summit hosts press India

A Bangladeshi woman looks skyward from inside her temporary home, a tent set up on the roadside, in Dhaka, Bangladesh as heavy monsoon rains have battered Bangladesh's capital. (Pavel Rahman, AP)
A Bangladeshi woman looks skyward from inside her temporary home, a tent set up on the roadside, in Dhaka, Bangladesh as heavy monsoon rains have battered Bangladesh's capital. (Pavel Rahman, AP)

New Delhi - The French hosts of a UN climate summit later this year insisted on Thursday that combating global warming would not undermine efforts to fight poverty as they lobbied for India's support in cutting emissions.

Speaking in New Delhi, France's Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said he was confident India would play a lead role in efforts to create a low carbon economy, adding to pressure on the right-wing government after similar calls last week from US President Barack Obama.

"Taking action against climate disruption and for poverty reduction should not be regarded as two separate and contradictory goals," Fabius told a climate conference in the Indian capital.

"We all know that we need a signal that all countries are embarking on a low carbon economy based on their national circumstances.

"No doubt, no doubt that India will play a leading role in this effort. And no doubt that it will do it under the leadership of Prime Minister [Narendra] Modi who is really dedicated to this common goal," he added.

India, the world's third largest emitter of greenhouse gases, has resisted pressure to commit to a timeline for capping emissions after China and the United States announced a bilateral pact in November.

Modi's government maintains that the burden of reducing the amount of carbon emitted lies with industrialised countries, and has opposed any move to shift the onus to developing nations.

In a speech in New Delhi last week, Obama said the world does not "stand a chance against climate change" unless developing countries such as India reduce their dependence on fossil fuels.

On our own

But during Obama's visit, Modi stressed that India did not feel itself under pressure on climate change from other countries, while insisting it was responding to the challenges presented by global warming.

Speaking at the same conference as Fabius, Indian Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar reiterated his government's commitment to battling climate change, highlighting ambitious plans to increase renewable energy.

"We are doing it on our own commitment, our own conviction, our own volition," said Javadekar.

While India still relies hugely on coal, Modi has pledged that renewable energy will play a key role in bringing electricity to more than 300 million poor people currently without power.

Fabius, who travelled to India with French Ecology Minister Segolene Royal, said he hoped all countries would announce what they intended to propose at the Paris climate conference in December as soon as possible.

The Paris conference should culminate in a deal among 195 countries on how to curb fossil-fuel gases.

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