Monday, July 28, 2008

17. ANALYSIS: Climate Change Mission Lacks Vision

The political controversy may have subdued its release but not its contemporary relevance! It is however another matter that the much awaited National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC), released in June 2008, has turned out to be a listless compilation of predictable ideas that lack depth, vision as well as urgency. Making a case for the right of emerging economies to development for alleviating poverty, the action plan places economic development ahead of emission reduction targets.

It might disappoint those who believe in scary picture of climate change and consider emission reduction to be the panacea for reducing the impact of global warming. The Prime Minister’s Council on Climate Change, under whose aegis the action plan has been drafted, is firm that the country would not cross the per capita emission levels of the industrialized west any time sooner. Consequently, the report makes no commitment to cut country’s carbon emission at the cost of its projected development.

In doing so, the action plan gives a spin in favour of the rights of the poor to emission equity and climate justice. Why should an average US citizen spew 20 tons of carbon dioxide annually into the atmosphere when his counterpart in India averages only 1.2 tons? In the absence of a firm link between global warming and anthropogenic emissions, the action plan reaffirms individual’s right to emit carbon dioxide (through enhanced energy consumption) for attaining a reasonable standard of living.

But there is more to climate change than per capita emission only! India’s cumulative carbon dioxide emission at a whopping 1.5 billion tons, which is a quarter of the US’s current emissions, can tip the climate balance against the poor. Whatever be the source of emissions, the glacial melting in the Himalayas is threatening to impact food and livelihoods security of over 1.4 billion people across the sub-continent. Projected sea-level rise, flash floods and unexpected droughts will only add to the woes of the poor....more