The United Nations Climate Change Conference was first held in Berlin in 1995. Also known as the Conference of the Parties (COP), it became an annual affair (though 2001 had two).
While Berlin was called COP1, recently COP21 was held in Paris in 2015. It has taken them this long just to reach a consensus on something! Imagine if it takes you 20 long years to agree, then how long it will take you to actually implement it at all?
An infinite amount of time since all this isn’t even legally binding and every country has its own set of domestic problems.
So far America has refused to ratify any of the tough measures that climate scientists have been asking in the past. There’s still a chance that anything miniscule agreed recently may be turned down by the US Congress and Senate.
But that’s America. Take a look at it from India’s point of view. The Industrial Revolution took place in the 19th century and when we look at historic CO2 emissions then just America and the European Union account for about half! That’s huge.
What about India’s share? That’s in the region of a mere 3%. This is despite the fact that the population of India is more than that of the US and EU put together.
From that angle, global warming is a problem that has been created by the West and one that has to be sorted out by the West. That’s what India has been rightly and repeatedly telling the world.
However even if we look at top emission producers today, then it emerges that China is way in the lead followed by America and the EU. In fact India has about 17% of the world’s population and contributes less than 7% of CO2 emissions.
Add all other kinds of emissions and the share is less than even that.
So whether you take into account historical CO2 emissions or today’s annual greenhouse gas per capita emissions, India lags way behind and need not do anything about climate change.
But a larger question about all these climate conferences is how difficult it is for individual
countries or provinces to implement it.
Take a look at India again. One-third of India is without electricity and power cuts plague the rest. The current government has announced electricity for all by 2022 (on the occasion of 75 years of Independence).
With this regard we are going full steam ahead on solar power (we could be the world’s solar power house in 5 years) and wind power. We have kick-started the dead Indo-US nuclear deal and have begun to take nuclear fuel from Australia, Canada and Ukraine.
There have been innovations like Indian Railways picking up power from the defunct Dabhol power plant.
However despite all this, we will be doubling our coal usage by 2020! That will happen no matter what has been announced in COP21 and what will be agreed upon in in COP22 or COP23.
The rights of those Indians who have been living in the dark for decades to get electricity trumps the West’s right to reject historical emissions.
Secondly, even if the Central government does agree to reduce emissions for India, then how will it go about doing it? There are 29 States in India and if you uniformly cut emissions, then the underdeveloped States will cry foul and point to the historical emissions of the developed States.
The battle that has been raging between developed and developing countries in the world will now get transferred to the States!
Look at the way parties are fighting over the GST Bill which has a broad-based consensus and is still not being passed.
Do you really think that Parliament will ever be able to pass a similar National Climate Bill? How can you cap the number of industries that an underdeveloped State in India is planning?
Even if the Central government signs something in conferences like COP21, it cannot be implemented on the ground at the district level. And we are not even talking about the increasing number of vehicles in India which has no counter.
Then there’s the whole concept of analysing climate science in the first place. The basic data is suspect with some wild claims being made from time to time. Weightage also seems to be given more to green activists over actual scientists.
In fact the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (informally known as the Climate Bible) itself is under cloud.
Finally have you heard of Global Dimming? The amount of sunlight that we are receiving has been steadily reducing in the past few decades due to certain type of pollutants. These pollutants are actually making the planet cooler! Why isn’t it called Global Cooling then?
A true model of climate change should include greenhouse gas emissions, global dimming, the Earth’s Ice Age cycles along with solar cycles. All that is beyond the scope of current calculations and so everyone just talks of emissions. Plunging oil prices will also not persuade the global population to steer away from fossil fuels.
How much emissions have been created by global leaders with their huge teams flying to fancy climate conferences year after year? One doubts if all these talks have managed to even reduce even that quantity of emissions.
India has currently embarked on an ambitious path of development from which there is no looking back for us. Our emissions will increase rather than decrease in the years to come.
We have no choice.
If that’s the cost of bringing electricity to each and every village in India, then so be it!