David Fuller's view -
To many eyes, India looks like a roadblock to an effective world climate deal. Prime Minister Narendra Modi's demand for “climate justice” -- meaning that rich nations should reduce their carbon emissions even as India and others continue to pollute -- reprises the polarizing rhetoric that has sunk previous international attempts to battle global warming. Yet there’s merit to Modi’s argument, and success in Paris requires that all countries recognize it.
The first thing to appreciate is that, whatever commitments Modi's government ends up making at the climate talks, India’s fuel mix is growing steadily greener. While coal is still the cheapest and most abundant domestic fuel source, it's getting more expensive and harder to dig from the ground. Many banks already see more potential in funding solar projects than new coal-fired power plants. In fact, the most apt criticism of India’s pledges to reduce carbon intensity and the use of fossil fuels -- rather than cap emissions -- is that the country could probably meet them without really trying. It can and should aim higher.
That said, Modi’s central argument is sound: India can't accept a hard limit on emissions when it’s still trying to lift hundreds of millions of Indians -- more than 20 percent of whom lack electricity -- out of poverty. Western nations are most responsible for the greenhouse gases now in the atmosphere; the average American accounts for 10 times the annual emissions of the average Indian. Judged by whether countries are doing their “fair share,” based on how much they’ve contributed to the problem and how able they are to pay, the U.S. and European Union’s climate pledges look far weaker than India’s. Among major nations, only China appears to have committed to doing more than its fair share.
A key point about global warming is that we cannot afford to take the risk that it is not actually occurring.
Everyone has a view on climate change, and your guess on this frightening topic may be better than some of the Al Gore-style ‘experts’. Personally, my very unscientific experience tells me that the planet is warming. I remember how cold the winters were from early childhood in the 1940s up through the 1970s. Thereafter, winters where I live in London have become gradually warmer, especially the last two. It is early days for this winter, but so far I have not needed a winter coat, hat or gloves. However, I know my friends in many parts of the USA thought they were freezing to death during the last two winters. They deserve some favourable climate change.
Seriously, I do not see how mankind’s growing population, with its cities, industries, household machines, farm animals and travels could be doing anything other than contributing to global warming. Therefore, I am pleased that so many people are taking the Paris climate summit very seriously, although they may also be creating some hot air.
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