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“Bonn”- Voyage for India: What can India do in climate change debate?

By Sankalp Singh

The 23rd “Conference of Parties” (COP 23, from here on) is to be held between November 6 and November 14.[1] Climate change is a different agenda now; it is no more reduced towards mitigating the disastrous anthropogenic effect the world has leaned towards[2]. British gave us Industrial Revolution; America gave us agricultural spurt, Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC, more popularly) gave us an alternate fuel to rely on, which is still in deep transition towards getting realised in consumption, shale gas. It is a strong rhetoric that Donald Trump (Current President of the United States, POTUS) lifted America from global environment debate, pulling out of Climate Change talks. His utmost priority is his America First doctrine, born during his election campaigns.[3] US pulled out from Climate Change regime and the whole world was in heavy talks, while United States shifted its policy focus towards North Korea, its immediate obsession to curb missile wars.

In between these important foreign policy “worlds”, there is one country that holds invisible anchor to strategically push towards climate change regime, India. A recent report of International Energy Agency (IEA) revealed that India is placed third on Carbon Dioxide (CO2) emission[4]. Why is this report important? IEA is a Paris origin agency, and the last we heard about nations participating so strongly for conserving environment was in Paris Climate Accord in 2015. Member countries had put a faith in this accord that the world will attempt to reduce their carbon footprint to 2 degree Celsius. The rhetoric was strong, ambitions went low. Within two years; USA, China and India became the leaders on global carbon emissions. This does not add up to the Bonn Climate talks, however it adds up to the utmost sense of thinking about anthropocentrism again. China has been a standing example of how to “emerge” as the global economy in development. China has been going macro-based, focusing and focusing on development with rapid infrastructure, highly scrutinised finance, employment, and the current government’s recent Chinese Communist Party manifesto adds up one more policy doctrine, building a strong China[5].

The United States is focusing on ultra-protectionist internal policies; the current policy we heard was America’s rethinking towards their “Diversity Programme Visa”. America is also the world’s arch in industrial pollution, it manifests in the Atlas towards east. Again, this does not have to be conceptualised with “West is Polluting”, and the “East is suffering”. The East nations have been now growing rapidly, with interventions in different areas that can give us high consumption, high investment, and high revenues. India, in a matter of climate conservation talks; Have been intervening in the direction that can help strongly in global climate regime. The current government’s internal policy of “Clean India Mission” (In India, it is “Swacch Bharat Mission”) is helping India to see what clean India should look like [6]. The Capital of India has been negotiating with Car manufacturers to design “clean and efficient” cars so as to see cleaner Delhi (The Capital of India). However, India should not do what western economies did in their ‘industrial revolution’ days, “Chasing” the capital growth stage. It has been often cited in international affairs matter about the comparison of India with China in terms of economic growth, which we do not need today. It seems viable to compete, but it does not seem ethical to “Building on the best” strategy. India has a long coastline, and add to that the regime of climate change. Climate change does not only involve pollution occurring in air through industries, it also involves pollution originating in seas, and land.

While India is attempting to intervene in land policies towards mitigating pollution, there is a strategic need to intervene in area of sea. India is growing with high increase in population, however to increase consumption there occurs a silent increase in carbon emission. We can change that. Small economies like Curitiba in Brazil grew exponentially in terms of population from 1970s to early 2000s; however, it developed with a “nature touch” [7]. In 2015, post Paris Talks, the world emitted 32.3 gigaton CO2, according to the study by International Energy Agency [8]. This is not a low level of emission, with three countries combined (USA, India and China), the levels aggregate to 16 gigaton CO2 alone. India can stand out from the usual “legacy” of western nations that had developed in their revolutionary period, which was: Grow, Develop, Increase Population, Set up Industries, Create Employment and Industrialise. India has huge advantage of the global backing of “Sustainable Development Goals” set by United Nations.

The United Nations Convention for Climate Change (UNFCC) can take the support of India in negotiation. India also has the advantage of investment in solar energy, it already has the base to use ready in its western parts. Thus, if the new climate change accord is looked again by the same principles of “Reduce Pollution to 2 degree Celsius”, we might lose our potential to curb environmental disorders in the first place. Climate Change is, and has always been a shared concern. The problem at hand is not immediate mitigation of pollution; it is more towards making the nations to get reduced to a common denominator and acting actively in Climate Change talks.

References

  1. Damian Carrington, “The COP23 climate change summit in Bonn and why it matters”, The Guardian
  2. Singh, S. “Climate Change: Process or Event?”, Foreign Policy News
  3. The White House, America First Foreign Policy
  4. Malavika Vyawahare, “India saw largest rise in GHG emissions in 2016 among major emitters”, Hindustan Times
  5. David Child, “Explained: What is National Congress of China’s Communist Party”, Aljazeera
  6. PM India, Towards a Swacch Bharat
  7. Curitiba has won the “Guangzhou International Award for Urban Innovation” Its innovation was that Curitiba linked Urban Development to environment conservation.
  8. International Energy Agency, CO2 Emissions From Fuel Combustion Highlights 2017

Sankalp Singh is a student pursuing Master’s degree in Public Policy (2016-2018) from St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai (India).

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Foreign Policy News

Foreign Policy News is a self-financed initiative providing a venue and forum for political analysts and experts to disseminate analysis of major political and business-related events in the world, shed light on particulars of U.S. foreign policy from the perspective of foreign media and present alternative overview on current events affecting the international relations.

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