Page last updated at 12:13 GMT, Monday, 30 June 2008 13:13 UK

India unveils climate change plan

Sun rises over  the Ganges at Allahabad, 31 December 2005
India plans to harness solar power and other renewable energy forms

The Indian government has unveiled a national action plan to confront the threat posed by climate change.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said the plan envisaged a gradual shift to greater reliance on sustainable sources of energy.

Mr Singh said the development of India's capacity to tap solar power would be central to the strategy.

But the prime minister made no commitment to cut his country's carbon emissions which are predicted to rise.

Solar power

"Our vision is to make India's economic development energy efficient," said Mr Singh as he released details of the plan in the Indian capital, Delhi.

"Our people have a right to economic and social development and to discard the ignominy of widespread poverty."

The prime minister said that over time India must shift from economic activity based on fossil fuels to one based on non-fossil fuels, and from reliance on non-renewable and dwindling sources of energy to renewable ones.

A Greenpeace rally on climate change
Greenpeace says India could face a major humanitarian crisis

"In this strategy, the sun occupies centre stage, as it should, being literally the original source of all energy.

"We will pool all our scientific, technical and managerial talents, with financial sources, to develop solar energy as a source of abundant energy to power our economy and to transform the lives of our people," Mr Singh said.

"Our success in this endeavour will change the face of India."

The action plan, however, makes no commitment to cut India's carbon emissions.

India's government says that it must strive to lift much of the country's population out of poverty.

It argues that its carbon emissions per head of population are only a fraction of those of rich countries.

A recent Greenpeace report on climate change warned that if greenhouse gas emissions continued to grow at their present rate, South Asia could face a major humanitarian crisis.

It estimates that 75 million people in Bangladesh would lose their homes. About 45 million people in India would also become "climate migrants".

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