The Union government's climate policy is based on pressure exerted by the western countries and not in response to the threat faced from climate change by vulnerable sections in the country, Praful Bidwai, columnist, said here on Saturday.

Addressing a seminar on “Climate responsible development,” organised by the Kerala Swathantra Matsya Thozhilali Federation (independent fishing workers' federation), he said the climate summit at Copenhagen was a betrayal of an earlier understanding between nations on regulation of emissions. The Copenhagen agreement signed by the U.S., Brazil, South Africa, India and China was a disaster; it was the worst-possible outcome.

“The summit came up with an annual commitment of 10 billion dollars to combat climate change all over the world, against an estimated need of 1,000 billion dollars,” Mr. Bidwai said.

Owning up

He said fast-developing economies such as India, China and Brazil were also contributing substantially to greenhouse gas emissions. These countries had to accept responsibility and make commitments to undo the environmental damage. But unfortunately, they were trying to ape the western development model based on high consumption.

He said climate change was the greatest crisis facing mankind. “Rising sea level, glacier melting, depletion of forests, extinction of species, desertification, erratic monsoons, flooding, drought and epidemics are leading to mass displacement of people. Climate-change refugees are on the rise all over the world,” he said.

“While developed countries are responsible for 75 per cent of the mess, 80 per cent of the affected people are in the developing world.”

Mr. Bidwai said the elitist-oriented development strategy adopted by the Union government was posing obstacles to emission control and making it difficult to combat climate change.

Half-hearted attempt

“India's climate policy is a half-hearted one framed by a cabal. The Prime Minister's Council on Climate Change is dominated by Ministers, bureaucrats and industrialists, most of them from Delhi and its suburbs. There are no social scientists, independent scientists or climatologists on the panel and only one NGO. The council is a joke, it is an insult to the country,” he said.

Mr. Bidwai said a rational, equitable and reasonable climate policy would emerge only if vulnerable sections and traditional communities known for sustainable methods of livelihood were given proper representation. He stressed the need for a people's movement to pressure the government for such a policy.

T. Peter, president of the federation, presided over the function.