NEW DELHI – Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will attend an international climate summit in Copenhagen, a spokesman said Saturday, ending days of speculation about the country's level of representation at the landmark conference.
Singh will address the U.N. summit during his two-day visit beginning Dec. 17, said Muthu Kumar, a spokesman in the prime minister's office.
Earlier this week, India pledged to significantly slow the growth of its carbon emissions over the next decade, closely following pledges made by the United States and China to cut back on their emission levels.
Singh visited Washington D.C. last week, where U.S. President Barack Obama strongly urged him to attend the Copenhagen summit.
Indian media had speculated for days about who would lead the Indian delegation to Copenhagen. Earlier, India had announced that it was to be represented at the meeting by Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh.
On Thursday, New Delhi announced plans to reduce the ratio of pollution to production by 20 to 25 per cent compared with 2005 levels, although it would not accept a legally binding emissions reduction target.
India ranks fifth in world carbon dioxide emissions, accounting for 4.7 percent of the world's emissions. The U.S. and China emit roughly 40 percent of the world's emissions, with Russia and Indonesia completing the top five emitting countries.
Per capita emissions are low in India — the government says the average Indian produces one ton of carbon dioxide a year, compared with about 20 tons per person in the U.S. But its 1.2 billion-strong population is what makes it one of the world's leading emitters of greenhouse gases.
The Indian plan to curb emissions include the introduction of mandatory fuel efficiency standards in 2011, enforcement of green building codes for greater energy efficiency and deployment of cleaner technology in coal-fired power plants.