India must not lag behind in climate change initiatives: PM

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said that taking the path of low greenhouse gas emissions was the only alternative and India "must not lag behind" on this.

Updated: Jan 03, 2010, 18:45 PM IST

Thiruvananthapuram: The Copenhagen meet made "limited progress" and no one was satisfied with the outcome, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said on Sunday, while observing that taking the path of low greenhouse gas emissions was the only alternative and India "must not lag behind" on this.

Inaugurating the 97th Indian Science Congress, Singh acknowledged that results of last month`s climate summit that saw sharp differences over issues of emission cuts and accountability, had left no one satisfied.

However, he said, India should aspire to be among the world leaders in climate-friendly technologies.

"We were able to make only limited progress at the Copenhagen Summit and no one was satisfied with the outcome.

"And yet there is no escaping the truth that the nations of the world have to move to a low greenhouse gas emissions and energy efficient development path," he said.

Singh, who was among over 100 world leaders who attended the finale of the 12-day summit in the Danish capital, said nations are chalking out strategies to achieve greater energy efficiency and a shift to renewable energy sources, as well as for adapting to climate change "which is inevitable".

India, he said, "must not lag behind in these areas".

"Indeed we should plan to be among the leaders in the development of science and technology related to mitigation and also adaptation to climate change. The market for such technologies is not just India. It is the whole world," he said

The much-anticipated Copenhagen climate change summit ended in a disappointment last month, with world nations failing to agree on clear terms on the way to combat global warming, and coming out with a mere face saver statement.

Major differences persisted over the limit to which rise is temperature is to be contained and on the insistence of developed countries that developing nations must open up their domestic mitigation targets for scrutiny.

The Prime Minister said even as India grapples with the challenges of food security and disease control, climate change and its effects are posing fresh challenges to the country.

Climate change, he said, "is a problem that is challenging the knowledge and wisdom of humankind".

He said India now faces "new challenges of climate change and the management of our scarce water resources," and pressed for marking a greater share in the energy sector to clean supplies like nuclear and solar energy.

"As far as energy is concerned, renewable and clean energy supplies will need to play a much bigger role that what they do currently. Nuclear and solar energy supplies will need to increase considerably," Singh told the gathering.

On the nuclear energy front, he expressed confidence that the "landmark" waiver on fuel restrictions by the Nuclear Suppliers Group last year, will help India "plan for an accelerated nuclear power development programme".

Union Minister of State for Science and Technology Prithviraj Chavan, who also spoke, said the need for global cooperation in science and technology has been widely recognised now, especially in the light of slowdown in global investments and innovations due to the crisis.

"India must therefore develop appropriate global strategic alliances in the field of science and technology," he said.

Referring to India`s achievements in Science and Technology, he said India`s research output has increased substantially since 1998. The annual growth rate of scientific publications worldwide was about four per cent, while it was about 12 per cent in India, he said.

The minister expressed confidence that India would emerge as the ninth important country in scientific publications by the year 2010, ahead of Spain.

Chavan said engagements of the private sector in generation of intellectual property is essential to improve India`s global competitiveness.

The minister said concerted efforts are on to modernise earth observation systems in India and added that a multi-parametric seismological observation capability has been developed.

"The possibility of earthquake prediction is being seriously explored," he added.