India’s new Minister for Environment and Forests, Prakash Javadekar, recently asserted his country’s development prerogative. Speaking at an anti-desertification event last week, Javadekar acknowledged the growing threat that carbon emissions pose, while noting that India’s growth imperative puts it at odds with many climate change mitigation efforts. The Times of India reports:
Underlining that the problem of emission has not been created by the developing nations and hence responsibility for addressing it should not be solely put on them, environment minister Prakash Javadekar said, “We have to reduce our carbon emissions. But, I (India) have not created the carbon emission problems, which have been done by others. But I am not into any blame game. The issue is that I have a right to grow. India and developing countries have right to grow. These are the emerging economies”. […]Noting that poverty is an “environmental disaster”, Javadekar said “unless we tackle poverty, unless we eradicate poverty, we cannot really address the climate change.” “To that end, we need to grow. Our net emission may increase,” he said while speaking at a function on the occasion of the “World Day to Combat Desertification”.
This cuts to the heart of the folly of a Global Climate Treaty (GCT). The Greens’ preferred policies are often luxuries the developing world cannot afford. Countries like India and China see curtailing development for the global good as an unfair imposition, after the developed world’s industrialization over the past century got us into this mess in the first place. The disparate responsibilities for greenhouse gas emissions make the pursuit of a binding international consensus on the issue nearly impossible to achieve. The West can’t deny—in either practical or moral terms—the developing world its efforts to lift billions out of poverty.What we can do, however, is encourage and help them to do so without following precisely the same polluting path that the developed world pursued. There’s nothing in the playbook that requires India to follow the same developmental path that the West took—namely, nurturing a manufacturing-based economy before eventually transitioning to one based on the creation and manipulation of information. The developing world has a tremendous opportunity in front of it: skip industrialization and move decisively into the information age. That strategy would help cut emissions growth without hamstringing economic progress. And unlike the GCT, it actually has a chance of working.