At a high-level meeting on the Convention on Biological Diversity that ended on Friday, India asked rich countries to double biodiversity aid to poor ones by 2015. To many, this may seem one more instance of its doublespeak on matters such as climate change, biodiversity protection and environmental sustainability.
It isn’t. India perhaps has the most powerful environment ministry in the developing world, and the environmental wing of its civil society, too, is very powerful. The charge against India has to do with the country’s hard negotiating position in the international arena in the face of rich countries that refuse to do their bit.
The gap between what the country does domestically—decisive interventions in favour of environmental concerns—and what it does globally has to do with its inability to end a polarizing environment versus growth debate, and the battles that accompany it. This debate is mostly sterile: the sooner it ends, the better.