New Indian Government Hardens Stance Of Emerging Nations On CO2 Emissions

  • Date: 22/06/14
  • Vishwa Mohan, Times of India

In what may be a strong signal to rich nations on the issue of climate change, New Delhi on Tuesday said the developing countries, including India, have a “right to grow” and in the process their “net emission (of greenhouse gases) may increase”.

Though India reiterated its commitment to reduce emissions, it made its preference clear. It said the country cannot address the challenges of climate change unless it eradicates poverty through economic growth.

Underlining that the problem of emission has not been created by the developing nations and hence responsibility for addressing it should not be solely put on them, environment minister Prakash Javadekar said, “We have to reduce our carbon emissions. But, I (India) have not created the carbon emission problems, which have been done by others. But I am not into any blame game. The issue is that I have a right to grow. India and developing countries have right to grow. These are the emerging economies”.

His statement assumes significance in the light of a meeting of ‘governments, leaders from finance, business, local government and civil society’ in New York in September this year to “bring bold and new announcements and action” to keep the earth below the globally agreed two degree temperature rise.

Noting that poverty is an “environmental disaster”, Javadekar said “unless we tackle poverty, unless we eradicate poverty, we cannot really address the climate change.”

“To that end, we need to grow. Our net emission may increase,” he said while speaking at a function on the occasion of the “World Day to Combat Desertification”.

The remark is expected to further strengthen the resolve of the BASIC group of nations on the issue of climate change. This bloc of four biggest emerging economies – Brazil, South Africa, India and China – has consistently been articulating developing countries’ point of view at every forum while seeking bigger actions from rich nation to cut down emissions as part of their historical responsibility.

Although the new government in India has not undermined the efforts to deal with the problem, the remark has certainly indicated hardening of stand by India as far as role of rich nations is concerned towards their ‘bigger’ responsibility to not only cut down emissions but also help out poor nations in taking various mitigation and adaptation measures.

Javadekar articulated India’s point of view barely three weeks after the new government showed some seriousness and gave new nomenclature to the environment ministry by adding ‘climate change’ as its core functioning. The ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) is now the ministry of environment, forests and climate change (MoEFCC) under the new government.

Interestingly, Javadekar had showed the same seriousness while speaking at a function to mark the ‘World Environment Day’ on June 5. He had said that India would provide a “new vocabulary to the world in environment conservation” as New Delhi was more conscious to its role.

It is to be seen whether his remark was merely a ‘rhetoric’ or something which meant real works on the ground to fight the challenge of climate change.

In certain quarters, the change in narrative is only seen as India’s new found zeal to ‘project’ its efforts to the global community more proactively now. New Delhi will possibly highlights its own works to deal with climate change more proactively while seeking rich nations to work more.

India too had voluntarily pledged to reduce its carbon emission by 20 to 25%, over the 2005 levels, by the year 2020. But, it has been blamed for not doing enough to deal with the issue of greenhouse gas emission.

Amid this backdrop, Javadekar had on June 5 said India should not be portrayed as a “villian” in the debate on climate change but should instead provide new dimensions to the discourse.

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