India is now defying green pleas at the highest levels, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi publicly touting his country’s right to develop and, yes, emit greenhouse gases. Reuters reports:
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi signaled on Monday he would not bow to foreign pressure to commit to cuts in carbon emissions, instead pledging to use more clean energy and traditional methods to lead the fight against climate change. […]
“The world guides us on climate change and we follow them? The world sets the parameters and we follow them? It is not like that,” Modi said at an event in Delhi. “We can lead the world.” The Indian government has said it needs to emit more to industrialize and lift millions out of poverty.
This statement shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who’s been paying attention to India’s climate change rhetoric in recent months. Last September, Indian environment minister Prakash Javadekar defied calls for his country to cut emissions, saying “What cuts? That’s for more developed countries. The moral principle of historic responsibility cannot be washed away.” He told the world not to expect any Indian emissions reductions for at least another 30 years as the country keeps developing and bringing its citizens out of poverty.
Three months later, Javadekar reiterated those sentiments at a UN climate summit in Peru. “Our growth cannot be compromised. Poverty must be eliminated immediately,” he insisted. After the joint U.S.-China emissions reductions pledges last November, many wondered if India would be the next to follow suit, but unsurprisingly President Obama left meetings with Modi in New Delhi this January without a similar breakthrough.
India isn’t ready to cut its coal consumption for clearer skies and a more stable global climate, and its resistance to emissions reductions could be the single biggest problem for delegates hoping to negotiate a Global Climate Treaty in Paris this December. And unfortunately for greens hoping for some kind of international consensus, no amount of cajoling will convince India to consign millions of its people to poverty for some new clean energy scheme.