India should grow treading carefully on environmental issues, say experts

China's emergence as the number one economic power in Asia would pose fresh environmental challenges and India has to shape its future strategy to counter them, independent China experts said.

“ The recent US-China agreement on climate change is only a statement of intention as there is no binding comment. But together, these two countries account for half of the world's green house gas emission,” T C A Rangachari, retired diplomat said at the Deccan Herald national conference here. The conference was titled, “Shaping the 21st Century: India, the US and China.”

USA, the world’s biggest historical polluter and China, which is the biggest current polluter announced a joint plan last month to reduce emissions. Under the deal, the US will reduce emissions by 26-28 per cent below the 2005 levels by 2025. The earlier target of the US was 17 percent by 2020 levels.

China, on its part, will peak its carbon emissions by 2030 and then start reducing it. It has not, however, announced any specific targets. The US has vowed to help China to “slow, peak and then reverse” its emissions. The deal was announced jointly by US president Barrack Obama and Chinese president Xi Jinping in Beijing last month.

“ The US-China agreement is so different from the European Union approach. While EU takes 1990 as the base year (under the Kyoto Protocol), the new pact talks about 2005,” said Rangachari, an old China hand in the Ministry of External Affairs.

“ As the choices of India, USA, China will determine the planet's future due to their economic strength, they have to take larger responsibility to shape the world's future,” says Alka Acharaya, director of the Institute of Chinese Studies, Delhi.

Former environment minister Jairam Ramesh, however, said in the wake of the US-China deal, New Delhi should think of something in the similar line to avoid being seen as obstructionist.

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