While the Union Minister of State for Environment Prakash Javadekar refused to comment on record on the U.S.-China climate deal, highly placed sources said the government has decided to adopt a wait-and-watch approach. The new deal puts pressure on India to decide on whether it wants to toe this line or create a new target for itself and also pressure the world to adopt stringent emission cuts.
The agreement that comes after months of talks will however, not impact the stand of the BASIC (Brazil, South Africa, India and China) group.
Experts differ on impact
There has been a mixed response from Indian experts to the U.S.-China agreement on a timetable for emission cuts.
Navroz K Dubhash, senior fellow, Centre for Policy Research and one of the lead authors of the recently released Synthesis Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), said that “The new deal implies that smart politics for India requires it to support this process, to be in the negotiating room, and help create conditions for over-compliance and for tighter limits.”
However, Sunita Narain, director-general of the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) said the agreement is not ambitious, effective or equitable. “The pledges by the two countries don’t add up to saving the world from the catastrophe of keeping global temperatures within 2 degrees Celsius. India made the mistake in Copenhagen of agreeing to a pledge and review system and this deal is the culmination of that,” she said.
Welcoming the deal, Dr Dubash said to create conditions for over-compliance and for tighter limits, India needs to put its weight forcefully behind national actions and develop its own contributions for the negotiations, he said. “This is smart politics by the two most powerful countries in the world. The U.S. target and the Chinese peaking year will certainly require some effort, but are probably not stretch targets. And it allows both countries to claim leadership in breathing life into climate talks,” he pointed out.
Dr. Dubash is optimistic that this move really infuses energy into the only global process there is for climate talks. However, he said the reason for scepticism is that this is well short of what is needed from the two biggest polluters to limit warming to two degrees. The only way to square this circle is to create conditions to deliver more emission restrictions than countries actually promise and push for tighter limits, he said.
Ms. Narain on the other hand said, it’s a deal good for the U.S. and China but bad for the planet. “It was perversely equitable and instead of reductions of emissions, we have convergence by 2030. Extrapolation of data by CSE indicates that in 2030, per capita emissions of the U.S. and China will converge at 12 tonne CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent).”
This is a disaster for climate change, she said.