Friday, December 4, 2009

Jairam Ramesh is Right

In a wonderful 65-minute exposition of India’s stand on climate change and its vulnerability to the threat in the Lok Sabha on Thursday, Union Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh announced that the country would reduce its greenhouse gas emission intensity by 20-25 per cent by 2020 from the 2005 levels. The announcement came a few days after China announced a 40-45 per cent cut in its emission intensity by 2020 compared to 2005, Brazil announced 38-42 per cent and Indonesia 26 per cent. The minister also reassured the country that ‘‘India will not accept a legally binding emission reduction cut and it will not accept a peaking date on its emissions’’. But what was most significant in Ramesh’s eloquent discourse was the identification of the four factors responsible for India being ‘‘most vulnerable’’ to climate change: the country’s dependence on the monsoon, receding of the Himalayan glaciers, presence of ecologically sensitive areas, and the fact that climate change would exacerbate the effect of mining in the forest areas of Jharkhand, Orissa and Chhattisgarh. Ramesh would have the country prepare far better to deal with the adverse effects of climate change, for which he has suggested indigenous study and research. He said that the basic problem was that India had hardly any information of its own on climate change effects, which he called ‘‘a pathetic state of affairs’’ for a country like India poised to play a major role in global affairs. The government must respond to his suggestion for developing ‘‘our own scientific capacity’’ to study all aspects of climate change. This is a very sensible and pragmatic suggestion. Ramesh is also right when he says that rather than grumbling and exposing its weaknesses, it is time the country participated in meets like the one scheduled in Copenhagen from December 7 to 18 from ‘‘a position of strength’’. But for this what we need is our own scientific database to contribute meaningfully to climate change summits. We congratulate Ramesh for his brilliant exposition of India’s would-be take on climate change and what we urgently need to do. Not very often do we hear ministers talk sense. THE SENTINEL

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