India must tread 'greener' path to growth: PM


June 18, 2010 Updated Aug 18, 2009 at 11:31 AM EDT

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh acknowledged India must tread a greener path on Tuesday, even as he blamed rich nations for expecting developing countries to pay for decades of environmental neglect.

"Our growth strategy can be and should be innovative and different," Singh told a meeting of state environment ministers in New Delhi.

"We can and we must walk a different road, an environment-friendly road."

India requires new technology to offset "multiple environmental crises," including drought, water shortages and pollution, he added.

India's carbon emissions are among the world's highest and it has been criticised for refusing to accept binding emission cuts as part of a new international climate treaty to replace the Kyoto protocol.

India argues that its per capita emissions are very low -- the average Indian produces one tonne of carbon dioxide per year to the average American's 20 tonnes.

It also insists that it is unfair for developing countries to be penalised for centuries of polluting industrial activity by wealthier nations.

"In dealing with the challenge of climate change and environmental degradation we face the unfair burden of past mistakes not of our making," Singh said.

"But, as we go forward in the march of development we have the opportunity not to repeat those past mistakes."

India and fellow emerging market heavyweight China have consistently opposed binding carbon emission reductions, arguing that countries such as the United States should first present sufficient targets of their own.

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