From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Paris Agreement
Mains level : Paper 3- Climate change policies and issues with them
The article highlights the issues with the current climate policies which are centred on the inequality.
Inequality and climate change
- Inequity is built into the climate treaty, which considers total emissions, size, and population, making India the fourth largest emitter.
- According to the United Nations, the richest 1% of the global population emits more than two times the emissions of the bottom 50%.
- .China, with four times the population of the U.S., accounts for 12% of cumulative emissions.
- India, with a population close to that of China’s, for just 3% of cumulative emissions that lead to global warming.
- In an urbanized world, two-thirds of emissions arise from the demand of the middle class for infrastructure, mobility, buildings, and diet.
- Well-being in the urbanized world is reflected in saturation levels of infrastructure.
- Growth in the developed countries is consumption-driven not production driven.
- The vaguely worded ‘carbon neutrality’, balancing emitting carbon with absorbing carbon from the atmosphere in forests is a triple whammy for latecomers like India.
- Such countries already have less energy-intensive pathways that will not encroach on others’ ecological space, a young population, and are growing fast to reach comparable levels of well-being with those already urbanized and in the middle class.
What changes are required in the policies
- At present, the focus is on physical quantities which indicates effects on nature.
- The solutions require analysis of drivers, trends, and patterns of resource use.
- This anomaly explains why the link between well-being, energy use, and emissions is not on the global agenda.
- Modifying unsustainable patterns of natural resource use and ensuring comparable levels of well-being are societal transformations.
- New thinking must enable politics to acknowledge transformational social goals and the material boundaries of economic activity.
India’s unique national circumstances
- India must highlight its unique national circumstances.
- For example, the meat industry, especially beef, contributes to one-third of global emissions.
- Indians eat just 4 kg of meat a year compared to those in the European Union who eat about 65 kg.
- Also to be noted is the fact that the average American household wastes nearly one-third of its food.
- Transport emissions account for a quarter of global emissions.
- Transport emissions are the symbol of Western civilization and are not on the global agenda.
- Rising Asia uses three-quarters of coal drives industry and supports the renewable energy push into cities.
- India, with abundant reserves and per capita electricity use that is one-tenth that of the U.S., is under pressure to stop using coal.
- India has the credibility and legitimacy to push an alternate 2050 goal for countries currently with per capita emissions below the global average.
- These goals should include well-being within ecological limits, the frame of the Sustainable Development Goals, as well as multilateral technological knowledge cooperation around electric vehicles, energy efficiency, building insulation, and a less wasteful diet.
Emissions are the symptom, not the cause of the problem. India, in the UN Security Council, must push new ideas based on its civilizational and long-standing alternate values for the transition to sustainability.