It is very unfortunate that the Modi government has succumbed to bullying tactics of western climate propaganda machines and devised a plan which is impractical and difficult to implement. Reality will soon dawn and the rosy projections will be exposed for what they really are. Like Pachauri’s projections of a meltdown of Himalayan glaciers.
Rajendra Pachauri is today best remembered for the sexual harassment charges that led to his ouster as the chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) some time this year. Not many people are aware that there was an equally grave controversy way back in 2010 that should have ended his career as one of the world’s foremost climate scare mongers. This didn’t have anything to do with sexual harassment so it never got the media space it deserved but it was nevertheless so serious and damaging that the UN body was forced into an embarrassing retraction.
It all began in 2007 when the IPCC issued a report claiming that the Himalayan glaciers are melting at an alarming rate and will be gone by 2035. They were warned a year before publication by one of the scientists that this was spurious and completely unsubstantiated. After publication, the Indian government strongly objected with environment minister Jairam Ramesh stating that the claim is not based on “one iota of scientific evidence”. A retraction followed in 2010 but by then a lot of damage had been to the credibility and objectivity of the Pachauri-led IPCC.
The reason why this issue becomes so important now is that the world and India now find themselves in the midst of another raging debate on carbon emissions and global action to combat climate change. The Kyoto protocol, which bound countries to a reduction in emission targets expired in 2007, and all attempts to find a successor to the treaty have failed miserably. A summit in Copenhagen in 2009 broke down after differences between the developed world and China and how much developing countries like India and China should do to cut emissions.
In the last few years, India has been under tremendous pressure from developed countries on emission reductions and environment minister Prakash Javadekar promised last week that the country would respond to the challenge. India, he said, will source 40% of its electricity from low-carbon or renewable sources by 2030 and will cut the emissions intensity of its economy – the ratio of carbon emissions per unit of GDP – by 35 per cent by 2030. “Though India is not part of the problem, it wants to be part of the solution. Our historical cumulative emission as of today is below 3 per cent,” the Guardian newspaper quoted Mr Javadekar as saying.
The solution that the environment minister is talking about is not drastic, but actually mild. India has not set any CO2 reduction targets, no wholescale reductions in carbon emissions that would flatten the economy, devastate industry and slash growth. Instead of emission cuts, we have reduction in emission intensity, whatever that means; we have grandiose promises to increase renewable energy production without any talk about reducing coal production or that of any fossil fuel. In fact, even as Mr Javadekar was making king his speech, Coal India, India’s biggest coal company, was busy revving up plans to double coal production to one billion tonnes by end of this decade. India has always opposed to emission cuts which it feels would cripple growth and industry and hence the emphasis on developing renewable energy and on reducing emission intensity as opposed to wholesale cuts.
But even here, it is not very clear what the country is trying to achieve. It appears that the Modi govt is paying lip service to the issue of emission cuts. In an important post, guest Blogger Paul Homewood on the pouplar climate website www.wattsupwiththat.com parses the numbers and the commitments and comes up with a conclusion that is sure to disappoint environmentalists.
Homewood says that India’s proposed climate plan will actually triple emissions by 2030 than reduce it. The country has set no CO2 targets and 40 percent commitment on renewables may not amount to much as it is a percentage of capacity and not generation. It is common knowledge that utilisation of renewables is poor and therefore the amount generated will be low. But the bigger issue is that nearly half of the planned cuts in emissions intensity promised by India may already have happened. This is because the commitment to reduce carbon intensity of GDP is from 2005 levels not from 2015. The very same climate plans says energy intensity of the economy has reduced by 17 per cent from 2005 levels till now and the reduction that is actually promised is only 19 per cent not 33-35 per cent. “If the Indian economy grows as planned, we can expect CO2 emissions to be three times as high in 2030 than they are now. Global emissions are currently 35498 million tonnes,” Homewood says and his article is worth reading for a full understanding of how he arrives at his numbers.
Much of the climate debate in the past 20 years has occurred in the backdrop of hysteria, data manipulation, and wholescale, shameless attempt at slandering those who don’t agree with the consensus. Climate scientists have become activists and politicians while activists have assumed the role of policy makers, drafting rules and regulations without any understanding of the issues on the ground. With media playing ball and participating in the full-blown campaign to push through an agenda, politicians, with an eye on votes, Nobel peace prizes and higher offices, have succumbed to the pressure. The voice of a small but significant minority who advise caution and careful analysis before jumping to conclusion has been drowned out in mass media. Despite all this, public support for drastic climate action plans is lukewarm in the west and the struggle to secure a lasting, binding climate action plan in the form of greenhouse gas reduction is a small victory for those who still believe in rational analysis and a scientific temperament not vitiated by mass, delusionary propaganda. The growth of internet and the widespread use of social media has no doubt helped.