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US-China Agreement on Climate Change: Far Below What We Require - Part 3

Newsclick discusses with D.Raghunandan of All India Peoples Science Network on India's response to Climate Change negotiations. Raghunandan believes that India is out of tune with what is happening: it is neither willing to accept what others are proposing nor willing to put forward its own proposals. India had the option of proposing an equity based carbon budget principle such that the 2 degree Centigrade line is not breached. Instead, it is pushing itself into a corner by rejecting what others are proposing and offering nothing in return.

Rough Transcript:

Prabir Purkayastha (PP)- This is the third part of our discussion with D.Raghunandan on climate change and China-US agreement. When we talk about the equity principle, allocating carbon space, people say, "well, aren't you talking about the right to pollute?" Now is this about the right to pollute? Is this the right to use the global commons which is what the carbon space is or is it also a right to development in which right to energy becomes an integral part?

D.Raghunandan (DR)- Clearly, this is the right to develop. And the right to develop at least for the next 20 or 30 years is going to involve carbon based emissions. You are not going to be able to develop with zero carbon emissions starting from tomorrow. That's not possible even for the most developed country in the world with access to all the modern technologies and certainly is not going to be... that option is not available to a country like India. So, this is not a right to pollute because you've already set, as I said, a ceiling. The 2 degree centigrade goal gives you a ceiling for the total emissions. IPCC 5th assessment report has actually put the numbers down in terms of the total carbon budget that is left and it is this carbon budget which is required to be maintained in order that the global goal of not allowing temperature rise to cross 2 degree centigrade is maintained.


PP- So, given all these issues, should India have looked at what in fact, the sherpa for G-20 Mr. Prabhu had already announced that India will break with China and try to take its own position. Do you in that sense, don't you feel that it has actually allowed China, therefore in that sense to bolt from the stable as it were and prevent India on that. Don't you think in some sense it was a rather unfortunate statement that India expressed in terms of breaking with other countries?

DR- Completely. I think, India is doing its usual game. Question is not whether India would break from China. The question is and what this joint statement has brought out and which we now learn the US and China has been working on for the last 9 months. Is that India has been totally out of the loop on this, out of tune with what's going on with the world and that China has been ready to break with India and with the other countries for a long time. Now, it has set its own agenda in the pursuit of its own national interest. The question is why India has not thought through the climate crisis. The issue that affects India, the fact that India is one among the top ten most affected regions of the world and that it is in India's vital national interest to secure an effective science based and equitable climate resolution in Paris. India, on the other hand, keep acting defensively preferring to stave off a solution, thinking that that is of great help to India rather than accepting a good solution or getting ideas to develop a good solution.


PP- Last question, the African group did present an equity based principle or it tried to, in the basic meeting and would still probably try and place it along larger audience. Do you think India should have responded to it and it didn't accept that framework could have proposed something as an alternative one?

DR- Absolutely. The equity reference framework developed by South Africa and tabled on behalf of the Africa group as a whole has its weaknesses. However, without going into details of what it contains and what it doesn't, I think India committed a big mistake by rejecting that out right. Because the idea which India should have grasped was that you required an equity principle for the forthcoming climate agreement. Now, South Africa had put across one idea, India could have put across another idea as we were discussing earlier, could have put across the carbon budgets approach as an equally good idea and see in which flew better rather than reject an idea outright. I think India has missed the boat once again. You don't claim leadership by rejecting other people's ideas. You claim leadership by putting across a good one yourself.


PP- India is unwilling to lead the developing countries and has got... is really looking for a sweet heart deals with US which on climate change is not going to happen. Not going to get. Thank you Raghu for coming to us and discussing this issue, we'll keep following this issue with you in the future. Thank you very much.

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