'US needs to change lifestyle to save planet'

'US needs to change lifestyle to save planet'

Jairam Ramesh

Indian Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh, who is in New York to attend the Climate Change Summit, told an audience here that India was on the path to unilateral voluntary mitigation measures by 2020.

These would include mandatory fuel efficiency standards, renewable energy initiatives, clean coal technologies, and lower methane farming, he said.

Ramesh and climate change expert Rajendra Pachauri underlined the need for the US to bring about a "lifestyle change" to combat climate change.

"In terms of lifestyle changes the time has come that we should not be shy about raising this issue," said Pachauri, the chairperson of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007.

He said it was time for "major changes" in our value systems. "There is a ground swell of public opinion also that some major changes have to be made in value systems," Pachauri said.

"If it is affecting the rest of the planet then it should be up for negotiation," the scientist underlined.

The Indian Minister suggested it was wrong to blame India for the deadlock on the global climate change accord.

"It beats me how a country that accounts for less than five percent of the world's greenhouse gases (India) is painted as the one that is preventing the deal in a country that accounts for 20 percent of the world's greenhouse gases," Ramesh noted.
He called the Waxman-Markey Bill, which was passed by the US House of Representative, a step forward because it takes on quantitative emission cuts by 2020.

"The US has entered the international environmental arena," he said. The Bill, however, still has a steep climb to pass the US Senate.

Pachauri underlined the need for the Obama administration to take on a set of executive steps even while the Bill is pending. "I think they can do a lot in terms of promoting renewable energy," he said.

"Between now and Copenhagen they could take a lot of action, which will be an important message for the Congress."

Ramesh said the voluntary mitigation measures by India would soon be worked into legislation.

"We are not part of the problem but we want to be part of the solution," he stressed.