Emission Targets | Centre for Science and Environment

Emission Targets

Wolf at our door

The US has made the world rewrite the climate agreement so that the targets are based on voluntary action, not science

Why we cannot ignore the poor

 One thing is clear—the solutions must work for the poor, for them to work for the rich

Some fortnights ago, I had discussed the issue of poverty and environment. I had then said that the question today is not whether the poor are responsible for environmental degradation but whether environmental management works if it does not address inequality and poverty. Why?

Intolerance in Paris: an opinion by Sunita Narain

As I write this, it is two days to the endgame at the Paris climate conference. Despite problems, everybody is clear that there will be an agreement. Let me explain why 

As I write this, it is two days to the endgame at the Paris climate conference. There has been little breakthrough on the contentious issues that elude an agreement, but still everybody is clear that there will be an agreement.

I am beginning to understand why they are so confident. Let me explain.

US Matters

Why should we look at the US to check out its climate action plan? The fact is that the US is the world’s largest historical contributor to greenhouse gas emissions—the stock that is already in the atmosphere and already warming the earth’s surface—and the second largest contributor (after China) to annual emissions. What the US does makes a huge difference to the world’s fight against runaway climate change. It will also force others to act. It is, after all, the leader.

Last call to get climate deal right

The Indian government must not use “equity” to block climate change negotiations. It must be proactive on equity and put forward a position on how to operationalise the sharing of the carbon budget—accounting for countries’ contribution to past emissions and allocating future space—in climate talks.

I wrote this last year when the UPA government was in power. I am repeating this as the NDA government prepares for the next conference of parties (CoP) to be held in December in Peru.

Change of climate in the US

Climate change has a surprising new follower: the US president. The US government has been the biggest bugbear in climate change negotiations. Since discussions began on this issue in the early 1990s, the US has stymied all efforts for an effective and fair deal. It has blocked action by arguing that countries like China and India must first do more. Worse, successive governments have even denied that the threat from a changing climate is real, let alone urgent.

Loud and unclear

Does the Indian government’s loud voice in international negotiations produce results? At the recent WTO meet in Bali, the Indian government went all guns blazing to defend the rights of its farmers and to ensure food security for millions of poor. It opposed the Agreement on Agriculture that limits government food procurement at 10 per cent of the value of total production, based on the prices of late 1980s. It said this clause would impinge on its right to offer farmers a supportive price and to procure food stocks for its food safety programme.

Beyond Rio+20

It was June of 1992. The location was Rio de Janeiro. The occasion was the world conference on environment and development. A large number of people had come out on the streets. They were protesting the arrival of George Bush senior, the then president of the US. Just before coming to the conference, Bush had visited a local shopping centre, urging people to buy more so that the increased consumption could rescue his country from financial crisis. Protesters were angered by his statement that “the American lifestyle is not negotiable”.

The inconvenient truth

Many years ago, in a desperately poor village in Rajasthan, people decided to plant trees on the land adjoining their pond so that its catchment would be protected. But this land belonged to the revenue department and people were fined for trespass. The issue hit national headlines. The stink made the local administration uncomfortable. They then came up with a brilliant game plan—they allotted the land to a group of equally poor people. In this way the poor ended up fighting the poor. The local government got away with the deliberate murder of a water body.

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