INTERNATIONAL

‘Paris deal politically ambitious but scientifically catastrophic’

Air pollution is likely to be a ‘game changer’ for India and China, said Naomi Klein. —PHOTO: WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

Air pollution is likely to be a ‘game changer’ for India and China, said Naomi Klein. —PHOTO: WIKIMEDIA COMMONS  

Air pollution is likely to be a “game changer” for India and China in bringing awareness and action on climate change, according to Naomi Klein, Canadian writer and activist on inequality and climate change. In Beijing the government had issued a red alert when pollution levels touched 237 micrograms per cubic metre.

Till recently, air pollution resulting from the production and use of fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas was largely confined to the localities of their production. Now it poses the same danger in cities, where elites face the distress of seeing their children go to school with pollution masks, Ms. Klein said, adding that “domestic pressure” will build up on the need for governments to take action.

Ms. Klein was speaking, along with economist Thomas Piketty at the Centenary Conference on ‘Socialism, Capitalism, and the Alternatives: Lessons from Russia and Eastern Europe’, held by the School for Slavonic and East European Studies’ at the University College, London.

Describing the outcome of the recent Climate Change Conference in Paris as “politically ambitious but scientifically catastrophic,” Ms. Klein argued that while the positives included “putting some bold goals in writing”, the language “includes wriggle room and techno-fixes like ocean fertilisation.”

She said the targets set in the INDC (Intended Nationally Determined Contributions) — the very heart of the Paris agreement — add up to a 3–4 degree increase in global warming, a far cry from the 1.5 degree cap. Thus “the target and goals have nothing to do with each other, and countries have said they will meet every 5 years to discuss this,” she observed.

Ms. Klein traced the climate crisis the world faces today to the “coup that the big powers of the world pulled off at the Climate Change Conference in 2009 when they defined as ‘dangerous’ any warming above 2 degrees.” This target was set in defiance of science, she argued.



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