Climate Change Diplomacy in India

US Secretary of State is in New Delhi on her State Visit with lots of agenda to be discussed between two countries and one important agenda being Climate Change. In her speech in presence of Indian Environment Minister Mr. Jairam Ramesh, she advised India to take up ‘legally binding targets’ to make Copenhagen Deal a success. US is vigorously carrying out ‘Climate Diplomacy’ in India and China for last few months and pressurising these countries to be ambitious in their commitments.

This diplomacy disturbs many of us considering the fact that very little is happening in US, the Waxman-Markey bill only commits reduction of 20% by 2005 level in 2020 that translates in only 7% reduction compare to 1990 levels. Considering the fact that US has been and will be out of Kyoto Protocol, the global community has very high expectations from Obama administration and the efforts at home do not reflect any such expectations being fulfilled.

The Charisma of ‘Obama’ is dying !

In India with sustainable development as priorities, lobbying organisations are still maintaining pressure on National (Federal) government to use climate change action as an opportunity and leapfrog towards ‘Energy Security’ by expanding their basket on sources of energy. The result, though slow is visible and its Mission documents (a version of detail Low Carbon Action Strategies (LCAPs)) are already aiming for ambitious targets. Leaked document on Solar Mission aims for 20 GigaWats by 2020; 100 Gigawats by 2030 and 200 Gigawats by 2050. Looking at existing infrastructure this is already very ambitious and will be very difficult to achieve unless there is an inbuilt mechanism to revamp the existing institutional infrastructure. Having spoken to concern ministries, similar numbers are expected in other mission documents, like Energy Efficiency, Sustainable Transport, etc… Domestically, India is deeply involved in its homework to integrate climate change actions in its development plans and since it is their first effort, mistakes are bound to happen. Planning may not be accurate but at least the will is there. If someone has asked me about India’s response on climate change few years back, I would have criticised for doing nothing.

However on India’s response towards ‘Adaptation’, I am still critical as nothing is happening domestically. We still calculate our all development plan expenditure as Adaptation budget and have not considered additionality as the basic factor to differentiate between business-as-usual development and adaptive development. India needs to learn from its neighbours like Bangladesh on methodology to prepare National Adaptation Plan. If National Government is already spending approx. 2.63% of Country’s annual GDP (as mention in National Action Plan on Climate Change), then its vulnerable communities would like see at least at National level Adaptation Plan with clear objectives and indicators, if not at other levels.

Thus rather than wasting its diplomacy energy on convincing India to take up emission reduction targets, US should work with India to assist in achieving its Adaptation goals. Developing Countries like India and China are already doing a lot at home in terms of Energy Efficiency, promoting renewable energy, strict vehicular emission standards, etc… US need to demonstrate its leadership by setting good examples domestically and then work with global community to ensure a ‘Fair Deal’.

Indian Minister’s response to US Secretary of State – ‘We are simply not in position to take any legally binding emissions reduction’ reflects that Developing countries are already negotiating with back against wall.



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