There has been much hue and cry over the US-China climate change agreement on India. It has been considered that it may lead to isolation of India in upcoming climate change negotiation in Paris for an overarching framework of Green House Gas emission post 2020. However, most of the critiques have overlooked the real intention behind the agreement and its outcome on India.
India with about 6 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions is simply not in the same league as China, the U.S. or the EU. Even with 8 per cent economic growth over the next decade and a half, its share will not cross 10 per cent at most. Of course, in per-capita terms India will be more advantageously placed simply because its population, already 1.24 billion, will increase by about 400 million over the next 35 years. But it would be extremely unwise to dismiss the significance of this agreement on the grounds that India is “different” because of the per-capita argument. Climate change is a global phenomenon and so is its impact. Any change in climate, rain pattern, river flow or the overall ecosystem, will have adverse consequences for India as well, whether the reason of increase in Green House Gas emission is coming out of China, US or EU. The impact cannot be country specific or region specific. Though the gravity of impact may be different but it will have impact on red-fed areas, irrigation, agricultural output, droughts and floods as well rise in sea level and subsequent merger of low land or coast jeopardizing the 7500 Km coastline and livelihood of people. The agreement will provide India to adopt, adapt, mitigate and reduce its carbon emission through shifting to carbon free sources of energy. The present strategy of not taking the impending crises into policy making and calling for differential responsibility, in which India can use resources for growth will be a double burden. First, we would be going for technologies, which may be carbon intensive to fund our growth prospect and then, we would be making vocal protest for more technologies to mitigate and decrease the impact of increased greenhouse emissions coming out of exploitation of resources. It is better to adopt a strategy that would be a judicious mix of both of them and that is what new agreement between china and US offers.
The agreement offers new paradigm shift in how climate change shall be taken into consideration and how we, as collective being must proceed despite our differences which may be historic or contemporary ranging from per-capita emissions or industrial activity and its intensity. Further, the agreement is signed for collective reduction of greenhouse gases by setting a target for all countries whether developed or developing. The agreement is no way seeks to reduce the developed world responsibility to decrease its funding of Green Climate Fund agreed in Copenhagen Summit or transfer of technology for mitigation and adaptation. China has been vocal in supporting the BASIC group and the agreement nowhere talks about the same responsibility of the developing countries in terms of funding and research.
Thus, it is necessary for India to move away from its callous attitude and call for a framework that substantiates its reduction targets on equity criteria but being pragmatic about its vocal support for funding by the developed countries.