Developing nations must be allowed to boost carbon emissions to lift millions out of poverty, said the head of the Nobel peace prize-winning climate change panel slated to formally get the award tomorrow.
"If you have the case of India, a half a billion people who do not even have electricity, what mitigation [of carbon emissions] can you carry out?" said Rajendra Pachauri, who shared the prize with former US vice president Al Gore
The scientist, who will accept on behalf of the panel, and Gore will receive the 10 million Swedish kronor (US$1.5 million) prize award from Ole Mjoes, head of the five-member Nobel committee, tomorrow.
"How can you deny them [poor Indians] electricity in the future?" Pachauri said in an interview just before embarking on his trip.
"And if you have to supply them power it will have to come from coal for a substantial quantity," said Pachauri, the first developing country head of the influential Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
India and China must put pressure on developed countries to take the "first" and "meaningful steps" to cut emissions of greenhouse gases emission rapidly, Pachauri said.
So far, the world's largest carbon emitter, the US, has refused to accept binding reductions.
Canada has also said that developing countries like China and India must undertake mandatory emissions cuts along with developed countries.
"If we are emitting only one-twentieth of what North America is emitting [per capita] then you really can't make a comparison," said Pachauri, voicing support for looking at emissions-per-person during the negotiations in Bali, Indonesia.
Evidence of the planet's warming was now "unequivocal" and the effects on the climate system could be "abrupt or irreversible," the influential UN panel said in its fourth and final report issued last month.
Past climate discussions have concluded that developed countries that have industrialized through the massive consumption of coal and oil bear the larger responsibility for curbing climate change.
China is the world's second-largest emitter in absolute terms while India is in fourth place, but with their billion-plus populations, their emissions-per-person are low compared to rich countries, though growing fast.
Pachauri called on the nations at Bali to come out with a clear roadmap for tackling climate change before the summit ends on Thursday.
If one is not in place, "it will be a lost opportunity," Pachauri said.
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