December 05, 2014

Climate Change : China and USA the real spoilers come together, Likely to put blame on India for not doing enough in the scheduled climate talks in Lima

Climate change is an issue that should concern all of us. There are countries and populations which are more vulnerable to climate change by the virtue of their geographic location. The small island nations like Maldives, Mauritius and many other small island nations in the oceans across the world face an existential threat. About 50% of world's population lives within 200 kilometres from the coast. The cities located on the coast line like Mumbai, Shanghai and those like Singapore and Hong Kong are among the biggest business centres of the world. Climate change articles have now become permanent features in the newspapers across the world.

 Like always USA is playing it cleverly and has come together with China to play spoil sport and put the blame on India which at present is a distant 4th in carbon footprint. China as expected is the largest at 24 per cent contribution followed by USA at 17 per cent. If the rise in world's average temperature has to be kept below 2 degrees Celsius then these two countries need to do more and not just act like it. As per Sunita Narain, Director at Centre for Science and Environment China and USA together will account for 50 per cent of 1000 giga billion tons of carbon emission by 2100. At present these two countries contribute about 40 per cent. China and USA have signed a deal this November in the run up to the talk being held in Lima, Peru. Under the deal, China committed to cap its output of carbon pollution by 2030 or earlier and to increase its use of zero emission energy to 20% by 2030. The US agreed to reduce its emissions by between 26% and 28% from their 2005 levels by 2025.

“The US-China deal is a game changer, and it adds tremendous momentum to these talks in Lima," says Jody Freeman, the director of Harvard University's environmental law program and the former White House counsellor for energy and climate change. "The US and China are the two indispensable nations on this problem. Together, they’re responsible for 40 per cent of global emissions.”

Todd Stern, the US state department’s climate change envoy, said the US-China deal could push other big polluters such as India, Japan, Brazil and Russia to come forward with their own post-2020 targets. That in turn boosted prospects for a good outcome in Paris

US media has often criticized India for not doing enough as the 4th biggest emitter but what they conveniently forget is that India's per capita emission is about 1.5 tons which is far too less than the world average at 4 and far too below than that of US and China despite its huge population. China has said that it is going to peak around 2030, which means that they are going to add more. India happens to be the fourth biggest polluter because of it 1250 million strong populations. It ranks far below the world average per capita emission. US politicians should focus more on the domestic issues like racism and come to terms with the fact that US no longer has the influence it once had and the world is not going to toe their line. Indians can see beyond beautifully crafted statements and are not fooled by aura of orators. They criticize India for not doing enough for the relationship that Obama once said was important to them. They need to understand that India is not going to be an "ally" they are used to having. When it comes to taking the actions that can really help mitigate the challenges posed by climate change they back off for instance sharing the energy efficient technology with the developing countries as it hurts their companies. India has done commendable job in tackling climate change issues. From ambitious solar energy targets to energy efficiency, we are doing a good job and will continue to do so as we understand that it is for our own benefit.

The Lima talks are a run up to the climate pact deal to be finalized next year in Paris. India is often called the spoiler by the US media be it the WTO deal that it is said to have sabotage a few weeks back. India must resist any pressures and be firm to its stand of universal but differentiated responsibilities. I expect that India's representatives to the talks in Lima will be able to show mirror to USA and China and show to the world that the so called deal is actually an attempt of biggest polluters getting together, acting like they are acting but in reality it falls far behind what they need to do as the 41% contributor to the current situation. 

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