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India may have to Reset Climate Goals
Dec 18, 2014

The US-China joint pledge to take actions to limit their carbon emissions may put pressure on India to commit something substantial by March next year when all countries are expected to come out with their intended goals of cutting emissions. The development is also seen as something that may trigger a clamour within India to delink itself from China ahead of the make-or-break global climate negotiations in Paris next year.

On the other hand, climate experts and environmentalists believe that whatever the top two emitters have pledged is well short of what is needed from them to limit warming to 2 degrees Celsius by the end of the century.

This agreement was expected. With a declared peak year of 2030, China can continue increasing its carbon emissions until then, which could be a questionable achievement for climate change. It is a self-serving deal in which both countries have agreed to converge their per capita emissions at 12 tons in 2030. This is a high level of emission and not in line with meeting the 2 degree Celsius temperature target mandated by IPCC.

The US-China deal would, by default, give India enough elbow room to peak its emission some 15 or 20 years beyond 2030—the year around which China promised to reach its peak emission. It means India may take it easy on its mitigation part and rather focus on adaptation and increasing its share of renewable energy in the country's total energy mix –the stand which the Indian government may take while de-linking itself from China at international platforms on climate issue.

India should push for a principle-based emissions reduction target for all countries. This is the only way it can force the US and China to reduce their emissions which are in line with the planetary limits. India should now work harder with developing countries and push for an ambitious global deal which is equitable and saves the world from catastrophic climate impacts.

In the name of getting a consensus in 2015, these two countries are forcing a catastrophic business-as-usual deal on the world. This deal is also a reality check for the government of India about its stance on global climate negotiations. India will have to decide whether it wants to follow the US-China deal or carve out a different path for itself.


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