| President Bush in Washington on Thursday. (Reuters)
Washington, May 31: Notwithstanding the outcome of this week’s negotiations in New Delhi over the Indo-US nuclear deal, India will not get a free pass at next week’s “outreach” meeting in Heiligendamm, Germany, with leaders of the Group of Eight (G-8) developed nations.
For the first time since former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee rubbed shoulders with G-8 leaders at their Evian summit in France six years ago, New Delhi will realise in Heiligendamm that getting into exclusive clubs of the world’s rich and mighty comes with its own pressures and responsibilities.
Any hope that exemptions for India in greenhouse gas emissions under the Kyoto Protocol made it immune from new commitments on climate change were dashed today when President George W Bush gave in to pressures to tackle global warming.
Severely criticised within his country and abroad for an ostrich-like attitude to climate change, Bush today agreed to work with 15 major nations to finalise a goal for reducing emissions of greenhouse gases by the end of next year.
In an effort to deflect criticism of the US at the G-8 summit Bush named India and China among the major emitters causing global warming.
“So my proposal is this: By the end of next year, America and other nations will set a long-term global goal for reducing greenhouse gases,” he said in a major policy speech setting the stage for his trip to Germany.
“To help develop this goal, the US will convene a series of meetings of nations that produce most greenhouse gas emissions, including nations with rapidly growing economies like India and China.”
Climate change is expected to be the single biggest issue at the Heiligendamm summit and possibly in the US presidential election in 2008.In a conference call with a few members of the foreign media here, the US under secretary of state for democracy and global affairs, Paula Dobriansky, acknowledged that the issue would spill over to the summit outreach which will bring together the G-8 leaders and those of developing countries such as India, China and Brazil.
Anticipating the pressure and to create the politically correct image of concern over global warming, China is drawing up a comprehensive strategy on climate change, which will be released in Beijing on Monday.
There are fears that India has been caught napping and may not come out of next week’s summit smelling like roses on the issue of global warming. Making common cause with Australia and the US which have rejected Kyoto and teaming up with China and South Korea which are also exempt from caps on emissions, India joined these countries in 2005 to form an Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate.