It would be a cliche to say that climate control and global warming are the buzzwords in today’s awakening world! And the recently held summit at Copenhagen meant these were all over the newspapers. The Copenhagen summit was looked at with lot of hope in terms of something substantial being done on the emission reduction front. But as many sees it, the summit ended up as global big talk show and nothing more than that.
The stand that India takes in global warming initiatives needs to be re-looked. The current situation is very well highlighted by an article that I read today (23-Dec-2009) on ET. The title of the article says that “Climate Deal Won’t Hurt Sovereignty”. Countries across the world should stop seeing global climate parleys as zero-sum games with clear winning and losing parties. And so does India!
It is a fact that when it comes to commitment on emission reduction the developed countries have restrained from being particularly firm on it and when it comes to the developing nations there exists issues related to allocation of green developmental funds. However, the next decade is going to witness rapid climate change mitigation actions like never before and countries like India cannot stay away and take the back seat.
India and many other developing countries have a long standing position which accuse US and Europe as culprits of CO2 emissions and global warming. Some might even go by the facts and say that US emitted 19.5 tonnes of CO2 per capita in 2003, the high income countries emitted 12.8 tonnes and the developed countries emitted 11.1 tonnes per person. The point that they try to highlight is that the less developed countries and the developing countries emit much less CO2 per person. For example in 2003 US emitted 19 times more that what countries like India did when it comes to emission per person. So these countries generally take a stand saying that if you want us to do something than share the resources and finances. I feel that is terribly wrong.
Although I don’t discard that US and other developed countries have major impact on the climate but I do not support the stand taken by the developing countries like India. And I have reasons for that:
Firstly, estimating the impact on climate through a metric like emission per person is flawed one and needs rethinking. I mean you cannot measure a public good like climate with a metric which is based on per person measurement. And you can see facts for the same, for example China emitted 6.1 billion tonnes of CO2 and accounted for 21.5 percent of total emissions in 2006. Which is way beyond US emissions. India, although lesser in comparison to China, emitted 1.5 billion tonnes or close to 5.3 percent of total emissions. But the huge population of both India and China brings down the per capital figure to a very meager amount, however it doesn’t make us any less responsible for the global warming problem.
For India, a country which needs a massive jump in energy supply, a country which needs more wheels and better transportation facilities and a country which faces energy shortages and wasteful use of energy, it is going to be an understatement if I say that it needs proactive policies to boost efficiency in energy generation and supply and effectively tap non-conventional sources of energy.
India needs access to new technologies like the super-critical boiler technology for energy generation to significantly improve thermal efficiencies in our power plants. India need to move towards better and enhanced efficiency norms for automobiles to achieve better fuel combustion and enhanced mileage.
India should be committed to reduce carbon intensity by 20-25 percent by 2020. Other countries like China, which announced a 40-45 percent cut and Brazil which announced a 38 percent cut should act as a source of motivation for India. Otherwise India will run the chance of getting alienated by these countries and would be left with no space for manoeuvre.
Furthermore, if India join countries like China, Brazil, EU, Indonesia and offers to go for a 20-25 percent cut by 2020 it would leave US on the back foot and make it think harder about its own emission reduction.
So although India is not the major reason for global warming. It should not stay away from becoming one of the solution provider to it. India needs to be proactive. India needs to move towards an era where the policy focus should be on joint R&D and other collaborative efforts to tackle the global warming problem. It would definitely leave atleast a “Green” (Grin) on everyone’s face in future.