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Posted at: May 3, 2017, 12:38 AM; last updated: May 3, 2017, 12:38 AM (IST)

Trump cloud over climate

India blame an excuse to betray the Paris deal
President Donald Trump has given strong hints of either the US pulling out of the Paris climate deal or at least cutting back on commitments made by the Obama administration. Building his argument ahead of a decision before the G-7 summit on May 26-27, he has accused India, China and Russia of not doing enough for the climate, while making the US pay in cash. The charge comes from an administration that has installed as the head of the US Environment Protection Agency a man who is on record saying he is not convinced that carbon dioxide from human activity is the main driver of climate change. Trump is obviously marching boldly into a world that has little respect for science.

Figures also bear out India’s polluter-pays stand. While it has committed itself to producing at least 40 per cent of its power from non-fossil sources by 2030, India’s per capita consumption of energy is one-ninth of the US. Yes, India is indeed among the top five carbon emitters in the world because of its large population, but then it is also a market for a lot of the world’s produce that caused carbon emissions. Even India’s expense on achieving its clean energy target is ultimately going to feed US green tech companies. It is also well understood that India’s energy consumption has been less than half of the minimum required to achieve a Human Development Index of 0.9. Any demand on it to pay towards climate change would amount to triggering a humanitarian crisis.

Even as the world bickers over selfish and short-term interests of various countries, the fact remains that the suffering will be shared, and unpredictable. It is, thus, important that each does its best. India’s current plans on coal-fired plants are not in keeping with its commitments for 2030, even as its solar plans are impressive. Some of the plans may be to satisfy immediate power needs. But it must not be forgotten that long term is a sum of short-term plans.

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