China rise will pose environmental challenges to India, says expert

China rise will pose environmental challenges to India, says expert

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 United States-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 titled, “Shaping the 21st Century: India, the US and China.”

The US, the world’s biggest historical polluter and China, the current biggest 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 per cent 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 that in the wake of the US-China deal, New Delhi should think of something in the similar line to avoid being seen as obstructionist.

Ramesh said no pact to combat global warming was possible without an understanding among the US, China and India as they account for 45-50 per cent of world’s greenhouse gas emissions. While China accounts for about 29 per cent of emissions, the US’ share is 16 per cent. India emits only 6 per cent of the total greenhouse gases at the moment, but its share is slated to rise with economic growth.

Welcoming the US-China deal, Ramesh said, “Environmentally, they may not be the most desirable or optimal actions. But these are politically and economically the most realistic actions. I think the onus will be on India now to do something meaningful and substantial.”

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