Asia will bear brunt of global warming; India must move to clean tech

Asia will bear brunt of global warming; India must move to clean tech

New Delhi: The fallout of global warming will severely impact Asia, yet another study, this time conducted over four years by a group of 35 environmental and development groups, predicts. “Without immediate action, global warming is set to reverse decades of social and economic progress across Asia, home to over 60% of the world’s population," the study, Up in Smoke, said.

Conducted by the coalition that includes International Institute for Environment and Development, Oxfam International, The Energy and Resources Institute (Teri)-Europe and the World Wildlife Fund, the study was aimed at assessing the impacts of climate change on global efforts to reduce poverty.

At a press conference in New Delhi on Monday, the coalition said the Indian government should go all out to invest in clean technology even if it means incurring an estimated cost of $2 trillion (Rs78.6 trillion). But this is contrary to the Indian position in climate change negotiations, where it is stressed that per capita emissions in India will never exceed those of developed nations.

The coalition said India has to address efficiency benchmarks in manufacturing processes and move from voluntary to mandatory targets for emission reduction.

The Indian government, however, has maintained that mandatory emission targets will curb growth of its economy, which is growing at more than 9% annually.

K. Srinivas, climate change campaigner for Greenpeace, an environmental lobby group and a member of the coalition, said his organization supported the Stern Review, which claims that India’s inaction on climate change will cost it more than if it acts. The review is a UK government-sponsored report on economics of climate change by former adviser Nicolas Stern.

India strongly contested the review at the last G-8 meeting and the Vienna climate change talks.

Other coalition members at the press conference did not comment on the Stern Review.

This new report has been preceded by similar studies arguing for urgent action to stem the damage to the global environment and comes ahead of the climate change meeting scheduled in Bali in December where all countries will meet under the leadership of the United Nations to decide on a new pact that will replace the Kyoto Protocol.

The report also recommends that in the wake of evidence that the UK is reneging on targets for renewable energy set to tackle climate change, rich countries, which are largely responsible for the emissions that have caused and still fuel climate change, undertake bigger emission cuts.

“Starting now with deep annual cuts, commitments should be introduced progressively in a way that prevents a dangerous accumulation of greenhouse gases and puts industrialized countries on track to reach cuts of at least 80% by 2050," the report recommends.

Raman Mehta, lead author of the India chapter, said: “World leaders who have claimed the moral high ground over poverty now need to put up or shut up."

The report lambasted the current rush to grow biofuels in developing countries and said “the ‘silver bullet’ of biofuels could turn into a rush for ‘fools’ gold’ across Asia as huge social and environmental costs outweigh the benefits".

R.K. Pachauri, chairman, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and director general, Teri, said, “The only feasible alternative is for wealthy countries to dramatically reduce their ‘luxury’ greenhouse gas emissions, so that the ‘survival’ emissions of people in poor countries do not cause disaster."