Climate change: PM asks states to ready their action plans

Quelling all doubts about India's approach towards climate change, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday sent out a clear message to state environment ministers that New Delhi was "seriously concerned" as it was "threatening our fragile ecosystems" and asked them to come up with state-level action plans to deal with the challenge. The state-level plans, he said, should be consistent with the strategies identified in the National Action Plan on Climate Change which was unveiled by him last year.

Addressing the first-ever conference of state ministers of environment and forests, Singh chose to speak about climate change first while the issue per se was not included in the agenda for the meeting. "Climate change is today a major global challenge. The world is concerned about it. So are we. There should be no doubt in anybody's mind that we fully recognise not just how important this issue is to India but also our obligation to address it. We are conscious of our responsibilities to both the present and future generations and seek to enhance the ecological sustainability of our development path," he said.

Singh's unambiguous message comes at a time when voices of skepticism are emanating from within the Environment Ministry and the Planning Commission about India's negotiating position ahead of the Copenhagen Summit. To add to it was the divergent views in the administration over India accepting a Major Economies Forum statement to limit the rise in average global temperatures to within two degrees of pre-industrial levels.

The subtext of Singh's statement was that India cannot live in a denial mode any more vis--vis climate change as New Delhi and other developing countries would be among those most seriously impacted by the consequences of it. At the same time, India will not at any cost accept any emission cuts but would seek to negotiate hard to get a better deal.

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