Intellectual Thoughts by Sanjay Panda: Global warming- Climate change

Global warming- Climate change

With climate change experts huddled in Bangkok over global warming, India is finally forming an experts committee that will look into this issue. The need for country-specific reports on this subject has increased after the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) confirmed earlier this year that the consequences of climate change have begun to show. The developed countries have stepped up their campaign for forcing the developing countries, such as India and China, to shoulder greater responsibility for reversing environment damage. This is sure to become a major issue when the emission reduction targets are re-negotiated for the new protocol on climate change that will succeed the present Kyoto accord once it expires in 2012.

Unless India is well-prepared with documentary evidence to present its case for continuation of emission reduction holiday, it will be caught on the wrong foot, as happened in the case of tariff reductions under the new global trade agreement, patenting norms under the trade-related intellectual property rights (TRIPs) for industrial products, and protection of plant genetic resources under geographical indications and other protocols.

Each time, our country & the thinktank had to take post-accord protective action after the global norms had already been laid down. What needs to be realised is that India is neither a major environment polluter (its contribution to greenhouse gases is merely 6 per cent) nor is it unmindful of its responsibilities. What is perhaps not duly appreciated is that India began promoting renewable energy sources by setting up an exclusive ministry of non-conventional sources of energy much before other countries thought of doing so. It is hardly surprising, therefore, that India has emerged as a leading player in the global carbon credit trading market.

Of the total 633 projects registered with the CDM Executive Board of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), as many as 220—34.75 per cent—are from India. Notably, the bulk of these projects belong to the categories of energy efficiency and renewable energy, reflecting emphasis on the clean development mechanism (CDM). India, in its self-interest, must promote the CDM at a greater pace. But, unlike the developed countries, it has begun to industrialise in real terms only now and can ill-afford any obligation that will hurt this process at this juncture. It has, therefore, to tread with extreme caution when it comes to taking on the targeted emission reductions. What is important for India is to balance the need for development with that for containing the damage caused by climate change.

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