PM backs IPCC , disappointed with Copenhagen (Lead)

New Delhi, Feb 5 ( Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Friday backed the beleaguered UN climate change panel, saying India had “full confidence” in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and its leadership.

In a major speech at the opening of the Delhi Sustainable Development Summit (DSDS) that began here Friday, Manmohan Singh also said that he was disappointed with the “limited achievements” of the Copenhagen summit.

A key part of the prime minister’s speech — heard by more than 150 delegates from around the world — covered the working of the IPCC and its chief, R.K Pachauri.

“Some aspects of the science that is reflected in the work of the IPCC have faced criticism. But this debate does not challenge the core projections of the IPCC about the impact of greenhouse gas accumulations on temperature, rainfall and sea level rise,” Manmohan Singh said.

This is the first major global meeting after the Copenhagen climate summit of December. The theme of the three-day meet, organised by The Energy Research Institute (TERI), is “Beyond Copenhagen: New Pathways to Sustainable Development”.

“Let me here assert that India has full confidence in the IPCC process and its leadership and will support it in every way that it can,” Manmohan Singh said.

The IPCC has been under fire since revelations last month that its landmark Fourth Assessment Report mistakenly predicted that the Himalayan glaciers could disappear by 2035 as a result of global warming.

A day earlier, Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh too had come out in support of Pachauri, who is under sustained attack in the British media in particular.

“Let there be no doubt on that. There is no wavering in the support of the Indian government. The prime minister and others in the government are supporting him (Pachauri) as chairmen of the IPCC,” Ramesh had said. “Let there be no two opinions in that.”

Sharing his disappointment with the limited achievements of the Copenhagen summit, Manmohan Singh said it was important to “deliver on what we promise to do”.

He pointed out that the lack of global consensus on burden sharing was “an even greater barrier” to securing an agreement.

“I share the disappointment of many with the limited achievements of the discussions that took place at Copenhagen. At the same time it is important to ensure that we can deliver what we promise to do. An ambitious agreement that is observed only in the breach will discredit the whole process,” he warned.

“The Copenhagen Accord, which we fully support and will take forward, is a catalogue of voluntary commitments and not a negotiated set of legal obligations. Presumably the countries that have made the commitments willingly have assured themselves that they can be and will be fulfilled.

“A modest accord that is fully implemented may be better than an ambitious one that falls seriously short of its targets. This is the lesson that was learnt with regard to the Kyoto Protocol.”

Among those participating in the summit here are Prime Ministers of Jens Stoltenberg of Norway, Jigmi Yoser Thinley of Bhutan, Matti Vanhanen of Finland, George Papandreou of Greece as well as Jean Charest, premier of Quebec, and Danilo T�rk, the president of Slovenia.

“The lack of global consensus on burden sharing is an even greater barrier to securing an agreement. Industrialised countries in our view need to recognise more clearly their historical role in the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere,” said the prime minister.

He said such countries should respond with bolder initiatives to contain their future emissions.

“I would also urge greater financial and technical assistance to developing countries both for adaptation measures to cope with the consequences of these emissions and for mitigation to reduce their contribution to future emissions,” he said.