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Climate Change: India’s Dilemma- Part 1 of 2

Published 10th November 2010 - 2 comments - 1394 views -

Climate change addressing in a country like India needs a deeper speculation than merely highlighting the absolute emission levels and pushing the Indian polity to cope up with the ridiculous reduction targets. The contemporary development activities around the globe are not solely responsible for the current GHG levels causing the climate change problem, but it is a cumulative impact of the accumulated emission stock in the atmosphere. The stock levels, initially unheeded, are also accounted to the 200 years of carbon based industrial activities performed by the developed countries. The absence of any demonstrable economic incentive has abstained the developed nations to take the sovereign responsibility for the emission reduction. Instead, they prefer building a web of shoulders to take the burden of emission reduction. The recent reports boldly talk about the fluctuating emission levels; a rapid and uncontrolled increase in India and China levels since past decade and the minute reduction by US and other industrialized nations, that too only in the past year. However the reductions, for which the respective governments are readily wanting to take a pat on the back for the uncanny and analyzed policy implementation, actually are a consequence of recession and the souring energy prices, as experts cite.

I don't at any level intend to proponent that India needs to decouple its growth processes and its duties as a global player to address the climate change. These two processes are the need of the hour for India – a social and economic growth and stability with an environment leveraging the sustenance of that growth.

This post series will talk about the Indian stance in relation to the climate change problem - how the current economic status and the societal imbalance makes it more arduous for the administration to strictly focus on the global concern of climate change. India's action plans on climate change at the state and national levels and what India needs to do to formulate it's climate strategy to maximize it's goals of development and aspirations to be a global player.

Growth Delusion

India's sustained growth of 8-9% for more than a decade has made developed nations unwilling to mask it into the group of developing nations when we talk about the climate change issue. It is expected to direct resources at comparable levels to the developed nations in regulating the atmospheric emissions. The growth rate has opened numerous doors for India but has also led to some concessions, such as allowing for “international consultation and analysis” to decipher the domestic actions on climate change. Although being at a high table now for the role in the global addressing, the pressure is expected to mount on the country and it will have to leverage its high table place to seek the development agenda.

The good from far high growth rate of India, is as away from being inclusive as it possibly can be. More than 50% of India's populace has no electricity access, which is a major parameter to gauge the development levels. One out of every three illiterate adults in the world is an Indian [source]. One out of every four hungry persons in the world is an India [source]. And various such failures measuring poverty, dire straits in health and education shed a skeptic light on the worldwide acclaim of it being next super power.

Taking this as a factor into the growth matrix of India will vastly degrade the outlook presented by a sustained growth rate. The inclusion of the set of parameters might as well give the true and distinct sense of progress made by the country.

Geo-political Instability

Apart from the appealing levels of domestic disparities, there are other issues that are hitting the country directly across the face. Insurgencies, terrorist attacks, “low moral quotient” of the political set ups have been constant attention seeker. This grievances can't be ignored as they adversely impact the short term law and order in the country which is unacceptable at any level. This instability is mainly attributed to India-Pakistan legacy, skewed interest shown by the government towards certain domestic regions to the height of partiality and the intense political corruption that is eroding the administrative foundation and taking the nation away from focusing strictly on the development activities.

Even though India is ready to take domestic measures on reducing emissions but its (and other developing nations') first and foremost priority is the social and economic development and the poverty alleviation of its people.

Climate Change: Action plan still a must

The domestic imbalances certainly can lower a nation's force with which it targets a global concern like climate change, but it definitely can't overlook it. Development can be severely hindered by the climate change vulnerability. India is already facing a high degree of climate variability and may face worse of the consequences of the climate change. This observation comes about because of the high proportions of extremely vulnerable coastal and peninsular regions, the vulnerability of vast Himalayan regions, unsymmetrical geographic landscape. All these present the worry of getting affected by a range of horizontal and vertical multitudes as a result of climate change.

A significant part of the annual variation in India's GDP growth over the past century is attributable to the fluctuations in the rainfall. It is projected that by the end of 21st century, rainfall in India may increase by 15-40% with high regional variability. The annual mean temperature could increase by 3°C to 6°C over the century. It is thus obvious that India may suffer huge losses caused by the extreme weather conditions and an inconsistent climate variability. 

The attributes imply that developing nations, even though not responsible for the climate change need to adapt and develop a full proof response system to minimize the impacts on the population and the resources. They need to play their due role in the global set up to mitigate the further unhealthy fluctuations in the climate and hence reversing the consequences.

Even if the global authorities recognize that the social and economic development and poverty eradication should be the top priorities of a nation like India, any mitigation measure to reign the problem should be taken in the context of sustainable development and be consistent with the national priorities.

Current CO2 emission levels

[ Source: World Culture Pictorial]


The next post will discuss the administrative and policy focus and stance on negotiating the climate change problem on the global platform with the motive of moving the world towards a viable agreement that is both fair and equitable. It will also discuss some of the negotiations that can be included in the domestic policies to attain a proactive role in fulfilling it's long term interests.


Category: Climate Reporting, | Tags:


Radovana Jagrikova on 22nd November 2010:

Wow, this is the fist time I have seen ranking of CO2 emissions per country and some data are quite surprising for me…
What do you think about India’s position? Is it okay, in relation to number of inhabitants? Taking into account that your population is much bigger than Russian or American, and yet you are below them… But, on the other hand, their areas are much bigger.

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