Why decarbonise? And how?

India needs to ask if it is necessary to undertake serious domestic action for decarbonisation, irrespective of pressures from rich countries.

India and other major developing countries have been at the receiving end of pressure by rich industrialised countries for several years, urging them to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. They argue that if these developing countries don't do so, irrespective of any emissions reductions by the rich countries, the world will be plunged into climate catastrophe (untrue); that without them on board, the US will not participate in emissions reductions (self-serving); and that global emissions reductions on the scale proposed by them will involve GDP loss of not more than 1-2 per cent (almost certainly much higher!). The arguments have to be seen in the context of India's per-capita emissions being just 1/20th of that of the US, and from 1/8th to 1/15th of other rich countries, with most developing countries also placed similarly. Over the next year-and-a-half of the climate change negotiations that are to be concluded in December 2009, one may expect the pressure to be greatly intensified, no matter which party assumes power in the US.

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