Tuesday, September 22, 2009

India’s effort at breaking the stalemate in climate commitments, needs to be applauded

Last week’s strategically timed declaration by India’s Jairam Ramesh, to set numerical targets for emissions, is a coup of sorts. Coming on the heels of U.S. administration’s shelving of the much hyped Climate and Energy Bill that the world was waiting for, this not only proves that India’s commitments on the climate front are more than honourable, but also places pressure on U.S. to perform on its climate commitments.

Continuing with my stance on why India should not leave itself open to Geo-political blackmail, I applaud Minister Ramesh’s ability to rise to the situation and break the stalemate in the series of the pre-Copenhagen talks. With his agreement to set numerical targets for curbing emissions, Mr. Ramesh has scored several points in this climate econdrum. This has not only temporized the debate whether emission curbs ought to extend to developing nations as well, but has also effectively pre-empted any further allegations against India’s seemingly nonchalant attitude to standardizing emissions.

India has historically refused to be pressurized on climate change. The Indian Govt. has repeatedly reiterated its stand of refusing to kowtow to climate requirements of curbs laid down by the U.S., based on the paradigm that its per capita emissions much lower than those of the developed nations, in no way called for internationally binding cuts.

As Mr Ramesh said:
This notion that India is intransigent on mitigation is crap. We are mitigating and mitigating considerably to save our forests and our rivers. But for an international agreement, the developed world has to demonstrate its seriousness much more credibly than it has done so far.”

This also brings to the fore the mercurial disposition of the Obama administration, whose Climate and Energy legislation had been one of the prime factors for levering it to power. Even as I write this, flash mobs are barraging Obama and thousands of eco- activists are sending climate action wake-up calls to world leaders.

On the Indian front, whether the avowal to set emissions standards was devised as a sheet anchor or an eleventh hour soft option, it cannot be ignored that the Environment Ministry has put together an ambitious plan on the green and energy front, supporting its political stance.

While the details of the missions under its National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) are being finalised, many other initiatives are being undertaken by the Government of India to address the issue of climate change. These are in the fields of forestry, energy efficiency, research agenda and CDM capacities vide increased budget outlays, efficiency and fuel economy standardization, research on glacial movements as well as focus on technology transfer as a core area.

Recognising the role of forests as a major carbon sink and the impact of the Himalayan glacier retreat, action has already begun on these fronts, for study and assessment of changes, besides monitoring the same and providing for offsets.

While U.S. dithers on the eve of the Copenhagen meet, efforts at damage control over the climate imbroglio continue through a series of 20-nation climate summits at Brussels, New York and later, Pittsburgh. It remains to be seen whether the initiative taken by India goads other nations to change their stiff-necked approach to emissions or coerces the Obama Governance to finally shake off its feet of clay and get to act.

Summary cross posted with INDIA WATER PORTAL

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