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Maneka Gandhi say: India won't follow Europe in CO2 emission cut

Former Indian environment minister Maneka Gandhi has criticized the US for not joining the Kyoto Protocol and says India will not follow Europe in carbon dioxide gas emission reduction as energy consumption is already very low in the country.

„Per capita energy consumption in India is already among the lowest in the world,” Gandhi, an MP from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), told a press conference at the European Parliament here Wednesday. She noted that in 2005, India consumed 520 kgoe (kilogram of oil equivalent) energy per person as compared to the world average of 1,731 kgoe and European average of 4,282 kgoe. „So there is very little to cut back,” said Gandhi, who is here to chair the jury of the Energy Globe Award, one of the world's most recognized environmental awards, being hosted by the European Parliament.

The 27-member European Union in March agreed on a 20% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, according to INEP news agency. She said coal-produced electricity consumption will increase in India but if the country at this junction could go to renewables such as solar and wind energy, „I think we could head off the CO2 crisis. Otherwise we are going to go smack-bang into it”. Asked to comment on the US position on the post-Kyoto regime where Washington says it will not cut gas emissions unless India and China do the same, the environmental activist replied: „I am quite certain that America is using us just as an excuse.

„If you put all the countries in Asia and Europe they still use less energy and have less CO2 emissions than the US. So for the US to say we will not join the Kyoto protocol unless India and China join is ridiculous.” On nuclear energy, Gandhi said her personal position is not in favor of nuclear energy for India „only because we do not achieve regulatory standards”. „It is always shrouded in secrecy...At the moment there is a big debate going on nuclear energy in India. My personal view is that we can't handle it.”

On environmental and animal rights issues, she said India and other Asian countries would follow suit if the European Parliament makes laws on these matters. „Our bureaucrats, who usually don't know what to do pinch from European laws and it has a very strong trickle down effect. So if you made the right laws, we would too.” (