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October 26, 2008 / Mridul

World’s Third Largest Emitter, India, Wants Europe To Cut Emissions

At the Asia Europe Meeting, held at Beijing this week, the Indian Prime Minister Mr. Manmohan Singh called up on his European counterparts to do more to reduce the carbon emissions of their countries. Talking about the per capita emissions he once against reiterated that the citizens of the developed countries need to reduce their emissions and do more to fulfill the promises that their governments made under the Kyoto Protocol. 

It is ironic that these statements are coming from the leader of a country which is expected to become the third largest emitter in the world. The Indian leaders always seem to fall back on the cushion of per capita emissions as India has some of the lowest per capita emission rates in the world. The Indian Prime Minster didn’t feel hesitant to remind Europe of its commitments under the Kyoto Protocol but somehow India couldn’t support the mandatory emissions cut goal for 2050. Both India and China opposed a compulsory emissions cut target when the G8 nations met in Japan earlier this year. 

Indian PM’s remarks clearly show the difference between India’s intent and actions on this sensitive issue. 

Earlier in the year when the western countries pressed India hard regarding its rising emissions the Indian government proposed plan to tap solar energy to meet the growing needs of the country but the proposal did not mention any emissions cut goals.

The Prime Minister failed to recognise Europe’s global leadership in moving towards clean and renewable energy from dirty fossil fuels. No country or region has done more to reduce its emissions and apply stringent regulations on its industry to control its emissions. It should be noted that most European countries are on track to meet their Kyoto Protocol goals. And although Europe’s overall emissions had shown a minor increase in 2005 it seems that most countries would be able to achieve significant cuts in their emissions.

European nations have set ambitious goals regarding renewable energy use, emissions cut across various sectors like automobiles and airlines and European Parliament is currently debating a new set of regulations which would bind its members to cut their emissions to a level more than that required by the Kyoto Protocol. In contrast, India has no renewable energy targets, no energy efficiency policy and no emissions cut goals for polluting industries. 

The prime minister said that common but differentiated responsibility of developed and underdeveloped nations on environmental issues should be the cardinal principle of negotiations to find practical and pragmatic solutions within the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Now where did the developing countries like India and China go. Developed countries have the Kyoto Protocol and under developed nations are reluctant to reduce emissions due to legitimate fears about their economic growth. But why should big emitters like India and China be left out of any mandatory emissions cut targets. 

The treaty that would succeed the Kyoto agreement should have a two-tier system wherein the developing countries must be obligated to cut their emissions. The developed nations be given a higher target while the developing countries given a slightly diluted goal to cut emissions. The structure of the agreement should be similar to the Montreal Protocol which helped in phasing out the use of substances that deplete ozone layer. 

If the developing countries really care for the degrading state of the environment they must practice what they preach. We cannot afford this blame game to go on forever. Sighting the economic disparities to run away from the ‘common but differentiated responsibilities’ is not going to lower the rising emissions. And now that the Western countries are plagued by the economic crisis and developing countries are in a better economic state they must do their bit to at least freeze their carbon emissions if not reduce them.


Leave a Comment
  1. preplan / Nov 3 2008 2:23 am

    It is my hope that countries will stop playing the finger pointing game and start doing what is needed to clean up their own problems. I don’t have high hopes but fortunately or unfortunately, we all share the same planet and if the U.S., Europe, India, China or any of the major industrialized nations don’t act and act soon, they will all pay a heavy price. GW Bush set a terrible precedent by shooting down Kyoto, lets just hope the next president just does better.


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