By Shankar Sharma*
This line of thinking, as suggested in the following links, can be said to be very unfortunate and disastrous for the humanity: China urges developed countries to take the lead in cutting out coal; There’s an $80-billion hole in India’s climate pledge; After Glasgow, world needs urgent action to stave off catastrophe; and Sixty years of climate change warnings: the signs that were missed (and ignored).
The two of the largest, densely populous and highest polluters, India and China, seem to have commonality at least on such irresponsible line of thinking.
Have the bloated bureaucracy in these two counties failed to convince their political leaders that the level of fossil fuel burning as we seem them today, which can only increase exponentially in a BAU scenario, and the larger threats of Climate Change will devastate every section of our own people much before impacting the rich countries? The inevitability of the calamitous abuse of our natural resources because of the ever growing demand for fossil fuels should have been crystal clear to them by this time. Is it acceptable to the bureaucracy and political leaders that such continued abuse of nature will not only make our people much more impoverished in the short-term, but will also aggravate Climate Change/climate emergency/global warming?
Is it that the pollution /contamination of air, water and soil across the length and breadth of the two countries, which is invariably linked to enormous number of industrial /commercial activities to over-exploit the conventional energy technologies and fossil fuels, as being highlighted by Delhi/Beijing air pollution and health concerns, are not evident to them?
The rich countries also may have larger resource base, lower population and money to face Climate Change. They may also have lesser risks from CC.
In such a scenario shall we rely on the money from those rich countries to protect our own interests? Can our bureaucracy confidently state that our societies in general, and the governments in particular, have honestly done all that is feasible to meet the legitimate needs for energy of all sections of our societies, and to uplift them from the clutches of poverty with the resources made available to our country during the last 70 years?
Has the efficiency level of harnessing /utilising various forms of energy in our countries achieved a level which is comparable to the best in the world; how much is the potential of such energy efficiency gains feasible with our existing energy infrastructure?
Unless we seek honest and credible answer to these questions, it will be foolhardy to expect rich countries to do anything more than what we want to do; irrespective of the fact as to who is primarily responsible for the mess we are in. Such an expectation/demand from rich countries may appear legitimate in the international fora, but no one else is going to protect the primary interests of our people that our own governments.
Such expectations, are very much similar to scenario wherein India may seeking reparations running to Trillions of British Pounds for the loss and damage they have heaped on our people during the illegal occupation of our land for more than 200 years. Such a thing will never happen.
Let us honestly do all that is feasible within our own country first, while continuing to put pressure on rich/ polluter countries to provide compensation to the poor countries. We must not wait for the aid to come from outside for us to start doing anything or everything feasible.
*Power & Climate Policy Analyst, Vijayanagar 1st stage, Sagara, Karnataka