Stern urges India to lead the charge in climate change talks

Author of the seminal report on climate change and the economy Lord Stern has told India it should play a crucial role in shaping the outcome of the Copenhagen climate talks this September.

Delivering the 30th 30th Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Lecture at Chatham House on Wednesday, Lord Stern said country’s stance would be crucial when the UN talks take place in December.

“India’s low emissions and its challenge of poverty reduction give her moral authority on climate change,” he said.

“And with its strong new government and fine analysts, India is well-placed to take a lead in setting the agenda.

“Its entrepreneurship and physical endowments mean it can prosper from the new opportunities presented by the low-carbon economy.

“India has been viewed by many, in my view unfairly, as an obstacle to progress. Now is the time for India to move into the lead on international discussions.

“The world has only just over four months to find an agreement in Copenhagen in December 2009. India’s role will be vital.

“There is no more important issue for the well-being of future generations in India and the rest of the world”

India’s geography and weather patterns also put it in the front line of climate change, he added.

“India, with its dependence on rivers from the Himalayas, its big coastal populations, the importance of the monsoon, and its vulnerability to natural disasters, is one of the countries most at risk from the impacts of climate change,” said Lord Stern.

“And India, because of its size, will be a crucial player in the global agreement. In these circumstances it is better to lead than to wait for others to propose.”

Lord Stern, who has been working in India for 35 years, urged developing countries to set an agenda that not only challenges rich countries, which are responsible for the bulk of past emissions, but also contains a “commitment to commit” to reductions targets within five to ten years, cutting emissions by 20 per cent in absolute terms by 2050 compared with 1990.

Sam Bond

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