West has polluted world for last 150 years: Goyal

19 Sep 2015


India appears set to take its usual stance at the coming international climate-change talks in Paris, seeking to minimise its responsibility for reversing climate change by blaming the West for the current mess.

''It's the West which has polluted the world for the last 150 years with cheap energy,'' Indian power minister Piyush Goyal said in an interview with Bloomberg. ''I can't tell the people of India that we'll burden you with high costs because the West has polluted the world, now India will pay for it. Not acceptable to us.''

Prime minister Narendra Modi's government has sent mixed signals about its stance toward climate change, adopting aggressive targets for adopting renewable energy while at the same time pointing the finger of blame at richer nations for causing global warming.

Indian officials coordinating climate policy have met with their US and Chinese counterparts in recent weeks to discuss the December talks in Paris, and India has said it will make a pledge in the near future for how it will act under the deal that is due to emerge. It isn't clear whether India will commit to a date to start rolling back greenhouse gas emissions, and US officials have said they don't expect such a pledge from India this year.

''India doesn't take responsibility for the problems that the world is facing because of thermal coal,'' Goyal said in the interview in New Delhi on 8 September. ''Our pollution out of carbon emissions is still very, very low compared to the world.''

India is the fourth-largest emitter of carbon dioxide, behind China, the US and the European Union. India emitted about 2 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide in 2014, according to the BP Statistical Review of World Energy. That is about one quarter the amount of China and one third the amount of the US.

India said in August that its national proposal to the Paris talks will cover mitigation, adaptation, finance and technology. So far, almost 50 countries constituting more than half the world's emissions have submitted their plans-formally known as Intended Nationally Determined Contributions or INDCs.

The government of India is likely to present its proposals by 27 September, Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change said 15 September in Brussels.

India's climate change plan may see a bigger renewable target for 2030 than the current goal of 175-gigawatt capacity to be built over the next seven years, Goyal said. The country needs cheap power to aid development, he said.

It will add large hydro-power projects to expand the renewable target, he said.

''I want to reignite the interest in hydro-electric investments,'' he said. India intends to almost quintuple its clean energy installations to 175 gigawatts by 2022 with wind, solar, biomass and small hydro projects.

India allowed development of offshore wind projects up to 200 nautical miles into the surrounding seas earlier this month to help achieve its climate-change goals.

As part of the government's energy-efficiency program, Goyal aims to save 100 billion kilowatt-hour units of power consumption annually by eliminating less efficient incandescent and CFL bulbs over the next three years.

''Our target is to do 770 million LED bulbs in the country, eliminating the CFLs and the incandescents in three years,'' he said.

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