Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday stressed that emerging economies were in no position to tackle climate change compared with developed countries which had caused the problem.
India won widespread praise for showing new flexibility at the UN Cancun climate talks in December, where it appeared willing to reconsider its previous reluctance to sign up to a binding deal to cut emissions.
But Singh, speaking at the Delhi Sustainable Development Summit, said fast-developing India and its 1.2 billion people held virtually no responsibility for global warming.
"Even if India were able to eliminate all its greenhouse gas emissions, we will not make a significant difference to our climate since our emissions account for only 4.0 percent of the global total," he said.
"Those who have been primarily responsible for the build-up of greenhouse gases and who also have the greatest capacity to act should bear the brunt of the responsibility."
India repeatedly has insisted it cannot commit to binding targets because they would hurt its progress in lifting hundreds of millions of people out of poverty.
But in Cancun, India's outspoken environment minister Jairam Ramesh had suggested his country may consider a binding deal in the future.
India has set its own target -- linked to growth -- of reducing emissions intensity of GDP by 20 percent between 2005 and 2020.
Singh, who kick-started India's economic transformation 20 years ago when he was finance minister, warned that any rules on emission cuts must not allow for a return to the country's bureaucratic and uncompetitive past.
"It is necessary to ensure that these regulatory standards do not bring back the 'Licence Permit Raj' which we sought to get rid of in the wake of economic reforms of the early nineties," he said.