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Reeling and Dealing
India Decries the West’s “Carbon Imperialism”

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry labeled India the biggest “challenge” in the way of negotiators trying to hammer out a Global Climate Treaty (GCT) in Paris, and predictably his comments didn’t go over well in the south Asian nation. The Telegraph reports:

…Mr Kerry’s “challenge” comment was received with fury in New Delhi. Officials here are quick to point out that it still burns less coal than the US or China – and besides, the West has been profiting from pumping out carbon for decades.

“Kerry’s comment is unwarranted and unfair. The attitude of some of the developed countries is the challenge for the Paris conclusion,” said Prakash Javadekar, India’s environment minister. India is “not in the habit of taking any pressure from anybody”, he added.

“This smacks of a ‘carbon imperialism’,” wrote Arvind Subramanian, the Indian government’s chief economic advisor. “And such imperialism on the part of advanced nations could spell disaster for India and other developing countries.”

Both sides have a point here, and that fact alone illustrates why this quest for a GCT borders on the quixotic. India is the world’s most populous country, and its 1.3 billion people won’t be keen on seeing development delayed for less tangible progress on mitigating climate change. For a country which has already struggled with massive blackouts, cheap and available energy is the name of the game, and that presents a problem for Paris delegates, because coal is as dirty and high-emitting as it inexpensive.

But from New Delhi’s perspective, there’s a deep undercurrent of hypocrisy beneath the lofty rhetoric coming out of the conference in France. After all, the developed world is responsible for the lion’s share of greenhouse gas emissions to date, a product of 20th century industrialization. For the world’s poorer countries, it’s hard to countenance the fact that they’re being told that that similar development path is no longer available.

India hasn’t shied away from insisting on its right to grow this year, staking out a clear position ahead of the ongoing Paris summit. The West hoped to buy off the developing world with the creation of a Global Climate Fund at the failed 2009 Copenhagen climate summit, but so far hasn’t followed up on its commitments to actually put up the agreed upon annual $100 billion.

Without monetary assurances, there’s no hope in convincing developing countries to curtail growth for the greater good, and going by the American example the money doesn’t seem to be in the offing. That’s what negotiators are tackling right now in Paris, and that’s why they won’t produce a robust deal.

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  • Andrew Allison

    Could we perhaps assume that all the followers of this blog understand that the Climate Conferences (each and all of them) are nothing more than taxpayer funded boondoggles and move on to another topic?

    • Pete

      Yes, let’s talk about murderous muslims and why our decadent elite coddle and excuse them when in fact the islamists could be squashed like the bugs they are, both in the West and in the Middle East.

    • JR

      Well, Obama is promising to write a check funded by borrowing. It is so much worse that just another taxpayer funded boondoggle.

  • Anthony

    India (and current BJP leadership understands) still has shocking levels of poverty and inequality – despite being a star performer among emerging market countries. The leadership recognizes GCT as constraint on economic growth as well development inhibitor imposed from outside sub-continent. India expresses intention not to be hamstrung by Western Carbon Standards – its right to grow. As mention in another TAI Post, interesting times we live in.

  • jburack

    In an age of instantaneous and comprehensive electronic communications, 50,000 preening bureaucrats united only by their self-righteousness have added hundreds of thousands of TONS of CO2 to the atmosphere by flying all the way to Paris. To do what? Does anyone think more than one in a thousand of them even needs to be physically present to get anything done. That’s even assuming anything actually needs to get done, which I do not really believe. But if these people really DID believe it, they would have found a way to do it without exceeding in one lousy week the entire output of CO2 of hundreds if not thousands of full LIFETIMES of normal living. I say good for India. It is clear that no matter what India signs on to, it will continue to bring its people into the modern world. Maybe some day, a few of them will get to fly to Paris. A much worthier use of that city’s charms.

    • Jim__L

      The purpose of this get-together is for the gatherers to see and be seen.

      That’s all. There’s no other point.

  • ljgude

    Part of the Postcolonial and Green narrative is that capitalism. particularly as exemplified by the United States, is the evil that stands in the way of …well, everything good. It is so gratifying to see the downtrodden giving the imperialist oppressor Kerry what Paddy gave the drum.

  • Gene

    Greens try to sell climate change to the masses by warning about the potential danger to their standards of living and health and even survival. This is a concern that might cross the mind of an average American, Dane or Italian for a few seconds once a week, and even then it’s a vague concern about something that might happen 15 or even 50 years from now.

    For vast numbers of Indians, those kinds of worries are in the front of their minds every damned day because they’re poor as hell. How much worse could an AGW-warmed world be, really, to such people? And they know that the benefits of cheap energy might actually improve their lives significantly, and soon. Why first-world greens don’t get this I’ll never understand.

  • Proud Skeptic

    Victims, victims everywhere…When was there ever any benefit to civilization to create more victims?

  • Rick Johnson

    ‘Green Imperialism’. A very astute observation.
    For the sake of our own futre, let shope India wins this fight with Green imperialism and that TAI wakes up to itself.

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