India and Trump's rants

India and Trump's rants

The government's claim of introducing 'climate justice' is rather outlandish. It has yielded to western mechanisation in the negotiations.

US President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement on climate change was by no means a surprise. For, the US has always been seeking to subvert the multilateral initiatives to address the vexing global problems.

Those who express surprise at the US withdrawal seem to be unaware that the US was not a party to the Kyoto Protocol, the global accord under the UNFCCC (UN Framework Convention on Climate Change) that the Paris Agreement is to succeed when its extended period will be over in 2020.

The Kyoto Protocol is not the only global environmental treaty that the US has refused to ratify. The US is not a party to the universal Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), claiming it will harm US economic interests. It is not a party to the Biosafety Protocol to regulate transboundary movement of genetically modified organisms. Nor is the US a party to the Nagoya Protocol on access to biodiversity and related benefit sharing. Nor to the Basel Convention on Transboundry Movement of Hazardous Wastes either.

The Paris Agreement itself is a charade of an international solution to address the global warming crisis. It is indeed several steps backward from the Kyoto Protocol provisions. The Paris Agreement has no binding commitments on developed countries that have historically caused the largest levels of carbon emissions, and continue to hold high per capita carbon emission records. They only need to submit a national climate plan - intended nationally determined contributions (INDC). The carbon emission reduction targets for developed countries are voluntary.

The binding commitments of Kyoto Protocol are undone in the Paris Agreement. It is virtually impossible to keep temperature increase within 2 degrees and much less the aspirational 1.5 degree centigrade above the pre-industrial level with no binding commitments on the industrial economies.

The UNFCCC’s 15th meeting of the Conference of Parties (CoP) noted in its decision adopting the Paris Agreement that the projected level of carbon dioxide in 2030 would be a lethal 55 gigatonnes and called for reducing emissions to 40 gigatonnes to mitigate climate change. This cannot be achieved unless the developed countries, the US in particular, agree to mandatory emission reductions.

The Agreement does not put a target date for achieving the temperature reduction goal. It leaves the benchmark pre-industrial temperature ambiguous, without mentioning the temperature measurement then nor agreeing the year of the start of the industrial period. The equity factor is down the drain and the 'common but differentiated responsibility' concept is glaringly missing in the operative parts of the Paris Agreement. Common but differentiated responsibility was central to the Rio Declaration 1992 of the earth summit, the UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol.

The Indian government’s claim of introducing ‘climate justice’ is rather outlandish. It is barely in the preamble as ‘…and noting the importance for some of the concept of “climate justice”, when taking action to address climate change’. India has heavily yielded to western mechanisation in the negotiations and its claim of success in ‘climate justice’ actually caricatures the concept as being important for only some countries and climate justice or equity missing in the entire operative provisions of the text.

The elected leadership of India remains silent when the constitutional head of a foreign country publicly makes false allegations against New Delhi. India looks like an orphaned nation. The new population of sham patriots that are on a tyrannical war against Indians other than themselves remains silent, proving the travesty of their patriotism. Even the Opposition remains blissfully silent, not being able to give a fitting response to the US tyrant.

While the nation’s leadership keeps studied silence on Trump’s insinuations, the fact remains that India’s per capita emission is one tenth of the US’. When the US per capita emission was 16.4 metric tonnes, India’s was only 1.6 metric tonnes, according to a World Bank study. All developing countries have similar or even less rate of carbon emission as India.

Climate crisis

The global climate crisis is primarily the result of the historical carbon emissions by the industrial economies exhausting the resilience of the environment and therefore reparations for the same are due from these players.

Reparations to the poor in the developing world who are the primary victims of the climate change — the sinking islands of Munrothuruthu on the southern Kerala coast and Gorumara island in the Indian Sundarbans are only symbolic of the climate change tyranny on the people.

Was India ‘asking for billions and billions of dollars’ as Trump has alleged? India has never asked nor received anything like that in the past or present. No other developing country did either. The developed world has a fundamental obligation to compensate for the global climate change crisis.

And they have reluctantly agreed to partly fulfil this obligation; hence their commitment in the UNFCCC, Kyoto Protocol as well as the Paris Agreement to provide financial assistance to developing countries, especially the least developed countries and small island nations. This was the result of the collective negotiations of G-77, the umbrella of developing countries in the UN negotiations, and India was only following the informed, objective position of G-77 in the negotiations, and the proposed funds are not something India-specific.

It is the CoP decision, not the Agreement itself, that mentions a yearly need of $100 billion in support of developing countries in order to meet their carbon reduction targets. This is by no means the sole responsibility of US but of all developed countries as they have agreed and the beneficiary is not India alone but over 130 countries.

Compare this figure with the $350 billion one developing country (Saudi Arabia) giving the US alone recently, for purchasing deadly weapons! The reverse flow of funds to the US from India and other developing countries by way of repatriation of profits of the multinational corporations actually runs into billions and billions of dollars.

(The writer is an ecologist specialising in international environmental policy)
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