Experts say India gives in to US pressure on climate change

0 CommentsPrint E-mail Xinhua, December 4, 2009
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Even as India followed China in setting carbon targets by announcing that it will reduce its emissions intensity by 20 to 25 percent over the next decade, environmentalists believe the decision only indicates that the country finally gave in to pressure from the U.S. barely days ahead of the Copenhagen Summit.

In a speech to Parliament on India's stand at the Copenhagen Climate Summit, Environment Minister Ramesh Jairam Thursday said his country had not caused climate change, but it had the most to lose from it.

Clarifying that India will not submit to legally binding emission cuts, the minister said the country would voluntarily reduce its carbon emission intensity by 20 to 25 percent of 2005 levels by 2020.

"India's per capita emissions will always remain low with that of developed nations. India will not submit to legally binding emissions," Ramesh said.

But the Director of Center for Science and Environment, Sunita Narain, said that India's decision, influenced by the U.S., is bad for climate.

"What we have to understand is not what the minister said but what the minister did not say -- that India could well be doing this to help the U.S. because the Americans want to shift the goal post, they want to move from legally binding cuts to voluntary targets," Narain told the media.

India's announcement followed similar proposals by China and the United States before the United Nations' climate change conference in Copenhagen which starts on Dec. 7.

Last week, President Barack Obama announced that the U.S. would set a target to reduce its total greenhouse gas emissions by roughly 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020 and 83 percent by 2050. The next day, China announced a target of reducing its carbon intensity levels by 40 to 45 percent by 2020, compared with 2005 levels.

But, Professor B. Bhattacharya, a Delhi-based expert on climate change, said that India's position seems to be one of posturing and the biggest loser in this will be our planet.

"Voluntary cuts, and not legally binding cuts, only mean that the Kyoto Protocol has no standing. This will only affect the Earth and us," he said.

However, Nitin Desai, a member of the Prime Minister's Council on Climate Change, has refuted the allegations.

"It's just possibly a product of global pressure. We are part of a global neighborhood and like any good neighbor we have certain obligations to act as a good neighbor. What I liked about Jairam's statement was his strong emphasis on the importance of action on climate for the people of India," Desai told the media.

Even the Indian Minister has claimed that India needs to be worried about the effects of climate change for its own sake, and not because of external international pressure.

"India will go to Copenhagen meet on climate change with a positive frame of mind; we will be flexible. We want a comprehensive and equitable agreement," he said.

"Good or bad, whatever it may be, one thing is for certain. The minister's statement on climate change in Parliament ahead of the Copenhagen summit has definitely turned the heat on the issue of climate change," Bhattacharya said.

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