Carbon reduction and India


One of the concerns I have long had about international carbon pollution reduction schemes is that they are designed by nice people in the developed world who have never been near a developing country. An article from the Indian “Economic Times” summarises my concerns. The article is here. The problem is simple and summarised by this quote from the article.

Making the Indian position clear, the minister said, “India will not accept any emission-reduction target period. India will not accept any legally enforceable targets. This is a non-negotiable stand.”

This is not bloody-mindedness on the part of an Indian Minister – it is political reality. India is a democracy of almost 1 billion people, most of whom live in poverty and conditions that people in Australia could not dream of or understand. These people vote – and Indian democracy works. The rural poor in India see western media and, increasingly, the affluent in Mumbai and Delhi. They want a life without grinding poverty – if not for themselves then for their children. Any western view that the 700,000,000 or so Indian poor are going to support carbon reduction policy that keeps them poor is western lunacy.

The Indian view is that the developed world got us into the current environmental mess and it is the developed world’s responsibility to solve the problem without impeding economic growth in poorer countries. Again, form the article:

Mr Ramesh reiterated India’s previous position that the country’s per capita emission of carbon dioxide would not exceed that of the developed countries. “Even at a 9% growth, the per capita emission will be nowhere near that of the developed countries. The per capita calculation is the way to go as it enshrines the principle of equity”.

Put simply – don’t expect India to support international carbon reduction schemes until they have developed to a point where domestic poverty is dramatically reduced.

4 Responses to "Carbon reduction and India"
  1. Has there ever been serious consideration of a global cap-and-trade system, where credits are allocated to countries on a per-capita basis?
    Under such a scheme poor countries like India would make money selling credits to rich countries like us, and they’d have an incentive to develop their economy in ways that don’t pollute.
    The global cap could also be continually reduced until it hits an ecologically sustainable level. Possibly even a negative number.

  2. I agree with Stephen’s point. It is western lunacy to believe that poor Indians both in rural and urban areas are going to give even a second thought to carbon reduction policies of the west, especially now when they are on the path to rapid economic development. Like one of my ‘Mumbaikar’ friends said ‘the ball is now rolling and people are getting used to it. They will not accept any domestic or international impediment to this growth’.
    I wonder if we can compare the carbon pollution levels in Mumbai with Sydney for example and use that as some sort of bench mark rather than the per-capita emission of carbon di oxide because like every thing else the carbon emission in Indian metros is likely to be far ahead of the rural and global counterparts.
    Indian minister needs to realise that it is not only economic development that is good for Indians but clean and green environment is equally if not more important. And if the developed world is getting together ‘now’ to take partial responsibility and some actions towards reinstating global environmental conditions then India and other developing countries should see that as an opportunity to get their act together and make use of the momentum to create a better place  for their future generations to live rather than dismiss it as a developed world’s responsibility.
    Wealth and infrastructure (two things that will never be enough for India’s large population which in my opinion is the real problem) can be created over the next few decades but environment once destroyed will be impossible to reinstate. I as an Indian will appreciate if the developed  world could continue to lobby for developing countries to reduce their carbon emission and if per capita carbon emission is counter porductive then there is a need to come up with a better measurement to argue the case.

  3. Surely, the win-win, positive option in all of this is for Australia to sell uranium to India?  Regrettably, our Prime Minister’s seeming thralldom to the UN, and the influence of the left fringe of the ALP, are set to prevent this happening.

  4. I’d like to remind you that “nice people in the developed world” are in their priveliged position because their countries have pillaged both poorer nations and the environment to get to where they are.
    Should the “developed world” take responsibility for its actions?  I think so,

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