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‘West Polluted World’ for 150 Years, And India Says It Won’t Pay

Anindya Upadhyay, Bloomberg

“You made the mess — you clean it up” may well be India’s attitude at the coming international climate-change talks in Paris.

“It’s the West which has polluted the world for the last 150 years with cheap energy,” Indian Power Minister Piyush Goyal said in an interview. “I can’t tell the people of India that we’ll burden you with high costs because the West has polluted the world, now India will pay for it. Not acceptable to us.”

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has sent mixed signals about its stance toward climate change, adopting aggressive targets for adopting renewable energy while at the same time pointing the finger of blame at richer nations for causing global warming.

Indian officials coordinating climate policy have met with their U.S. and Chinese counterparts in recent weeks to discuss the December talks in Paris, and India has said it will make a pledge in the near future for how it will act under the deal that is due to emerge. It isn’t clear whether India will commit to a date to start rolling back greenhouse gas emissions, and U.S. officials have said they don’t expect such a pledge from India this year.

“India doesn’t take responsibility for the problems that the world is facing because of thermal coal,” Goyal said in the interview in New Delhi Sept. 8. “Our pollution out of carbon emissions is still very, very low compared to the world.”

Fourth-Largest Emitter

India is the fourth-largest emitter of carbon dioxide, behind China, the U.S. and the European Union. India emitted about 2 billion tons of carbon dioxide in 2014, according to the BP Statistical Review of World Energy. That is about one quarter the amount of China and one third the amount of the U.S.

India said in August that its national proposal to the Paris talks will cover mitigation, adaptation, finance and technology. So far, almost 50 countries constituting more than half the world’s emissions have submitted their plans — formally known as Intended Nationally Determined Contributions or INDCs.

The government of India is likely to present its proposals by Sept. 27, Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change said Sept. 15 in Brussels.

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