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March 11, 2009 / Mridul

India to Developed Countries: Recession Should Not Stop Investments in Renewable Energy

India’s special envoy on Climate Change has demanded that developed nations invest more in renewable energy projects and do more to reduce their carbon emissions.

The Indian government wants the developed nations to ‘re-double’ their efforts on funding clean energy projects and not let the current economic crisis be a roadblock in those efforts. The envoy also reiterated that his government was not yet in a position to pledge to any mandatory emission reduction goals. He reminded the developed nation of the ‘historical responsibility’ to bring down their carbon emission levels.

Continuing with his hawkish tone, the envoy added that the developed countries should carry on with their effort to reduce carbon emissions but should not expect the same from developing countries. He said that any efforts to pressurize developing countries to sign up for mandatory emission cuts under the next climate treaty could jeopardize any international treaty.

It is highly unfortunate to see India’s envoy use such hawkish tone to address such sensitive issue. The Indian government wants the developed nations to act while it wants no share of the ‘common but differential’ responsibility of reducing carbon emissions.

It would be unfair and unjust to ask developed nations to invest more in clean energy projects without developing nations doing their bit since they (developed nations) have invested more than $200 billion in green energy projects in order to stimulate their recession-hit economies. Many of them are plagued by billions of dollars of budget deficits, in order to invest more they would have to increase taxes on their companies and citizens.

But how governments of the developed nations would convince their citizens to pay up more taxes to start new clean energy projects even when the developing nations, which have almost similar emission levels, are taking no such measures.

And while the developed countries have numerous schemes to promote the use of renewable energy the developing nations have nothing to match it. Developed nations provide millions of dollars to homeowners in the form of solar and wind subsidies, many of them practice feed-in tariff systems – making generation of energy through renewable resources profitable for citizens and almost every week a new solar or wind energy deal is signed up to create a renewable energy plant bigger than the previous one.

For almost a decade the United States, the largest GHG emitter at that time, refused to be a party to the Kyoto Protocol saying that it must include the developing nations. Now the world leaders are busy negotiating a new international climate treaty but the same issue still remains; so one has to ask the question, have we made any progress? Sadly the answer seems to be a defiant No.

The new climate treaty should include both developed and developing nations otherwise it would be inherently ineffective. The developed nations should agree to stricter emission reduction goals while the developing nations should be required to achieve slightly weaker goals. The negotiators should look at the success of the Montreal Protocol – arguably the most effective international climate treaty.

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