India sets year-end deadline for blueprint on tackling global warming

NEW DELHI, INDIA - India's prime minister set a November deadline to prepare a national plan for tackling the effects of global warming.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh asked planners to work on a comprehensive roadmap for energy efficiency and sustainable development in major sectors like agriculture, forestry, industry, transport, power and housing.

He announced a government program for greening of 6 million hectares (15 million acres) of degraded forest land, which would make it one of the world's largest afforestation efforts in recent times.

"The details of this program are being worked out," Singh said, adding that the program would be formally launched on Aug. 15 — India's Independence Day. Singh's comments came at the first meeting of the Council on Climate Change set up by the government in response to worldwide efforts to tackle global warming.

India, whose economy is growing by 8-9 percent a year, is one of the world's top polluters, contributing nearly 4 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions as its consumption of fossil fuels gathers pace.

However, India as a developing nation is not required to cut emissions under the Kyoto Protocol, despite mounting pressure from environmental groups and industrialized nations.

New Delhi says it isn't responsible for global warming, but it will do its part to fight climate change as long as the costs are shared fairly.

Singh told planners that India already has approved more than 660 projects, facilitating an investment of nearly 600 billion rupees (US$15 billion) in projects to improve energy efficiency, fuel usage, industrial processes and management of solid waste.

Singh also asked the 21-member council, which comprises government ministers, environmentalists and business executives, to devise strategies to check melting of the Himalayan glaciers.

"Our food security comes largely from irrigated areas of Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh whose rivers are fed by glacier melting in the Himalayas," he said.


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