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UN's Climate Chief Wants India to Clarify Policy on Greenhouse Emmissions


The United Nations' point man on climate change policy is in New Delhi where he is hoping to get India to clarify what it will do to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Steve Herman reports from New Delhi.

The executive secretary of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change says he wants some answers from India's government while he is in the capital for an international meeting on the subject.

Speaking to reporters here Wednesday, Yvo de Boer expressed frustration with New Delhi's lack of commitment in cutting greenhouse gas emissions. He says he is well aware of the Indian government's insistence that providing electricity for its growing economy means it cannot bow to demands it significantly reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

"It's a position that explains what India doesn't want and what I'm above all interested in is what India does want," he said. "Because then you know what you have to work towards. And there I think both the discussions with Indian officials and the meeting over the rest of the week can be very useful."

India is the world's fifth largest emitter of greenhouse gases. Both India and China have bristled at demands from the developed world they accept binding reductions in a proposed treaty to start in 2012.

New Delhi and Beijing argue it is unfair that the countries responsible for putting nearly all the extra carbon dioxide into the atmosphere since the dawn of the Industrial Age try to shift the burden onto those economies still trying to catch up with the West.

The U.N.'s climate change experts partly sided with the developing world's assertion that the United States and many other major developed nations are also not doing enough to cut harmful emissions. But de Boer notes there has been an indication of a turnaround in Washington lately.

"I do have the sense that the Bush Administration is increasingly engaging on this issue," added Yvo de Boer. "We saw that through the State of the Union address. The U.S. recently launched a new technology facility for international cooperation on technology, so I do see action going in the right direction."

De Boer will be among those attending the Delhi Sustainable Development Summit, which begins Thursday. Others at the meeting are to include four Scandinavian heads of government. It is the first big international gathering on climate change since the Bali conference, which discussed a successor to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. At the Bali summit nearly 190 countries agreed to work on a new blueprint.

Most industrialized nations are not expected to meet the pledge made in Kyoto to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by five percent in 2012 compared to 1990 levels. That has put more pressure on India and China to make binding commitments in a new treaty which supporters hope will be signed by the end of next year.