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PM tells rich nations to bear green burden

Gleneagles, July 7: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today made a strong pitch at the G8 summit for converting environmentally clean technologies into a “public good” ' to be shared without the restrictions of the Intellectual Property Rights regime.

He said technology was available today for eradicating poverty, ill health and protecting the environment but unless “proper mechanisms” were developed, the benefits would not reach the developing countries. Clean energy technologies that would prevent global warming by not generating greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide needed to be shared, Singh said.

For this, he argued, the international community needed to address the issues relating to intellectual property rights, find new financing mechanisms for spreading the use of new clean energy technologies in the developing world and collaborative international research in environmentally sustainable technologies on the same scale as was done in the field of agriculture in the 60s.

The Prime Minister was participating in the Outreach session of the G8 summit, where the leaders of the developed world wanted to hear the views of the emerging economies, represented by Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa (G5).

Singh singled out hydroelectric and nuclear power as examples of “clean” energy technologies that needed to be used widely. He urged the international community to re-examine its lending policy for large dams in this context.

Since India is seeking civilian nuclear reactors in the international market, he made a pointed reference to US President George W. Bush referring to nuclear energy as a clean energy source of the future.

Parrying attempts to place obligations on developing nations for reducing their carbon emissions, Singh argued for achieving a balance between the need of protecting the environment and not perpetuating poverty.

There was a limit, he said, to what the developing countries could do to protect the environment and achieve growth at the same time. The G8, Singh added, must not impose standards on these countries which were not implementable.

Singh was in effect standing by the common line of the G5, worked out in a joint statement earlier in the day, that while protecting the environment was the responsibility of all, a relatively greater share of it devolved on the G8.

He argued that the legitimate fora and mechanism for ensuring climate change responsibilities were the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol.

These agreements rest on the principle of “common but differentiated responsibility” which the developing world supports. This principle recognises that while the environment was common for the whole world, the developed countries had a greater responsibility because of their history of accumulated carbon dioxide emissions.

The Prime Minister, in keeping with the G5 joint statement, argued that “the persistence of hunger and poverty, even when the means are available, is a major obstacle to sustainable development”.

While economic growth was essentially the result of national policies, there was a role for the international community too. It needed to examine the problems of financial assistance, helping create a fair, equitable and open trade regime and ensuring better capital flow to the developing countries.

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