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Developing countries should not be set targets for reducing their greenhouse gas emissions, Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee said yesterday (30 October).

Speaking at the eighth conference of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP-8) in New Delhi, India, Vajpayee said that calls for developing countries to curb their emissions as part of global efforts to stem climate change were "misplaced for several reasons."

While developing nations are not major contributors to global greenhouse gas emissions, he argued, they will bear a disproportionate burden of the effects of climate change.

Furthermore, income levels in developing countries are a small fraction of those in industrialised countries, he said. Imposing climate change mitigation targets on poor nations would "bring additional strain to the already fragile economies of the developing countries and will affect our efforts to achieve higher GDP growth rates to eradicate poverty speedily".

Although the Kyoto Protocol — the international treaty that commits ratifying countries to reducing their greenhouse gas emissions — does not set targets for developing countries in the first commitment period (up to 2012), it is expected to include such provisions after that date.

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