India has expressed disappointment in the draft text of the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Paris to be held in December.
Indian climate change minister Prakash Javadekar said he was “not at all happy” with the draft for reasons of “equity” and indicated that India will oppose it during the next round of negotiations. Under India’s proposed commitment, the country will triple its CO2 emissions.
In the negotiations, India is perhaps the most important developing country as it has led the effort by poorer countries to force wealthier nations to increase financial assistance in exchange for cooperation on climate change. India has made it clear that it will only begin reducing its emissions if it receives substantial assistance from Western countries, equivalent to $2.5 trillion over the next 15 years in direct aid, grants, and cheap financing.
India and other developing nations are reluctant to cut emissions because their economies are deeply dependent on cheap, carbon emitting, forms of energy. In 2014, India got 59 percent of its electricity from coal, while the United States only generated 39 percent of its electricity from coal in the same year, even though the United States produces a lot more coal than India. India is doubling down on coal as well, by building 87,122 megawatts of capacity.
Even with that level of coal use, it is estimated that 400 million Indians, 31 percent of the population, lack access to electricity.
The Obama administration needs India for any serious emissions reduction agreement because the kind of emissions reductions the administration wants for the United States only avert .019 degrees Celsius of warming by 2100, an amount so small it cannot be detected.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the United States only emits 15% of the world’s CO2 equivalent annually. American emissions declined by roughly 10.4 percent in the last 5 years for which data was available, largely due to the transition from coal power to cleaner burning natural gas.
The coal decline is why, on climate change, the Obama administration has long claimed that the United States must “lead by example” as, mathematically, schemes to reduce carbon emissions are futile without the cooperation of both China and India.
That cooperation isn’t coming cheap.
So far, both countries have shown great reluctance to reduce their emissions. For example, in exchange for a commitment by the United States to reduce its carbon emissions by 26 to 28% by 2025, China only agreed to stop increasing its emissions footprint by 2030. Even the deal’s supporters agree that it alone is “very unlikely to keep future warming below 2 [degrees] C“, the benchmark beyond which they say climate change will be “dangerous.”
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