India aims to factor the use of natural resources in its economic growth estimates by 2015, environment minister Jairam Ramesh said on Tuesday, as New Delhi seeks to underscore the actions it is taking to fight global warming.
The stand is likely to strengthen India’s stance at crucial negotiations in Copenhagen in December on a treaty to succeed the Kyoto Protocol, which obliges 37 rich nations to cut emissions by an average of 5 percent below 1990 levels by 2008-12.
India is under no obligation to cut emissions but says it is taking unilateral domestic actions such as increased use of renewable energy and more efficient use of energy to help seal a global deal in the Danish capital.
Talks are currently deadlocked on the question of levels of emission cuts to be taken by rich countries and developing nations. Rich nations will also have to come up with billions of dollars in aid and green technologies for the poor.
In a move that India could highlight as proof of its sincerity in fighting climate change, Ramesh said the country would seek to make “green accounting” part of government policy on economic growth.
“I think certainly by 2015 or thereabouts India should be in a position to provide alternative GDP (Gross Domestic Product) estimates which account for the consumption of natural resources as well,” he said.
He said this would help find out how much of a natural resource was being consumed in the course of economic growth, how much was being degraded and how much was being replenished.
“I’m sure that in the next two years, more and more economists will focus their time and energies upon social investment accounting or green accounting … so that GDP really becomes not gross domestic product but green domestic product.”
India is among countries most threatened by climate change with experts warning that rising temperatures will lead to more floods, heatwaves, storms, rising sea levels and unpredictable farm yields.
Yet millions of people living in poverty means India needs to burn fossil fuel to help them improve their lives. Some half a billion people in India still don’t have access to electricity, making it necessary to use dirty coal for almost 70 percent of its power needs.
But New Delhi says it needs to follow a different development path than rich nations’ heavy reliance on coal, oil and gas, and that it could shift to a low-carbon future with a little hand-holding by rich nations to keep it on the right path.
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