ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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India and Climate Change: Some International Dimensions

Industrial countries have never been sympathetic to India's idea of controlling carbon emissions based on per capita targets. They prefer targets based on reductions in total emissions by developing countries, comparable or equivalent to those undertaken by them. This paper offers a new approach that tries to bolster the case for a per capita emissions approach by distinguishing the co2 emissions intensity of production and consumption from energy use per capita. It also outlines some projections that could lead to a reasonable emissions trajectory for India and one that is consistent with global efforts at addressing climate change. Looking at the role of trade in climate change, it concludes that the outcome will be messy if the trading system is burdened with the task of settling environmental problems.

Keeping India's Economic Engine Going: Climate Change and the Urbanisation Question

Urbanisation in India is both a necessary input and an inevitable consequence of growth. However, we must accept that the existing urbanisation models are unsustainable at the Indian scale and there is no available alternative trajectory. The international climate change negotiations can be seen as an opportunity to create an environment that will help in the discovery of a more sustainable urbanisation. This paper explores a limited set of emergent issues that will have to be considered as India develops its domestic approach to urbanisation, while negotiating its international position on climate change. It is structured into three broad sections, viz, (a) the feedback loops from urbanisation to climate change and vice versa, (b) actions needed at multiple levels to influence these processes, and (c) the implications of these for India's negotiating position on climate change.

Climate Change and the Energy Challenge: A Pragmatic Approach for India

India has been arguing that it (and the rest of the developing world) should incur no expense in controlling emissions that cause climate change. In the face of heightened concerns about rapid climate change, that argument is increasingly losing force - both in the fundamental arithmetic of climate change, and in the political reality that important western partners will increasingly demand more of India and other developing countries. The Indian government has outlined a broad plan for what could be done, but the plan still lacks a strategy to inform which efforts offer the most leverage on warming emissions and which are most credible. This paper offers a framework for that strategy. It suggests that a large number of options to control warming gases are in India's own self-interest, and with three case studies it suggests that leverage on emissions could amount to several hundred million tonnes of carbon dioxide annually over the next decade and an even larger quantity by 2030.

Climate Change: India's Options

Climate change poses particularly difficult challenges for India. On the one hand, India does not want any constraints on its development prospects. On the other, it also wants to be seen as an emerging global power that requires a leadership role on key global issues like climate change. It can either approach climate change as a "stand alone" global negotiation, or, weave these negotiations into a "grand bargain" involving linkages with other international negotiations. In order to understand these issues better, a conference on climate change held in New Delhi in March 2009 focused on the different bargains India might have to strike, both domestically and internationally, to respond to these challenges. The papers presented here highlight some of the key issues raised in the conference and also the analysis and interpretation of the main points of discussion.

Climate Change: Challenges Facing India's Poor

Briefly summarising the existing literature on the causes and the characteristics of expected climate changes in India over the coming years, this paper discusses the ways in which these changes might affect the lives of the poor. Rising temperatures, changes in rainfall patterns, and an increased frequency of floods and droughts are likely to have serious effects on rural populations in the absence of policies that actively help these households adjust to their changing geography. Survey data from villages affected by the Kosi flood of 2008 is used to speculate on how households and governments are likely to respond to unexpected weather events. The flood in Bihar rendered much of the land in the area uncultivable and resulted in large-scale unemployment. The state, while effective in providing immediate relief to flood victims, has done little to help the rural population adapt to their changed geography.

India and a Carbon Deal

There is now a growing consensus among governments that aggressive climate change mitigation is desirable, though they remain bitterly divided about how the associated burden should be shared. India's stand in climate negotiations, like that of most developing countries, has been largely negative. This paper examines the importance of a cap-and-trade mechanism as the keystone of a global mitigation agreement and estimates the cost of abating carbon in power generation in India, if and when carbon capture and sequestration technology becomes available for deployment. It concludes that India should be ready to reconsider its position and negotiate to join a mitigation treaty, say in 2020, if it can secure a fair deal.
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