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Climate Change and India: Between energy, environment and development

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  • UserSharachchandra Lele, Senior Fellow and Convenor of the Centre for Environment and Development at the Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology & the Environment (ATREE)
  • ClockTuesday 22 March 2011, 12:00-13:00
  • HouseLaundress Lane Seminar Room 1.

If you have a question about this talk, please contact paul haynes.

This seminar is a Climate Week event, open to all

Climate change is not only the biggest global-scale environmental challenge faced by humanity, but also the most difficult and divisive issue in North-South politics. This talk will present an overview of how the “Indian” response to this problem has been and is likely to be shaped in the future. While the climate system is a global well-mixed and hence common-pool resource, the contributions to its disruption are greatly lopsided and the impacts from this disruption are uneven and uncertain. This makes the problem deeply political, and Indian environmentalists, led by Anil Agarwal, were among the first to point this out in the early 1990s, and to highlight questions of historical and current responsibility, of rightful sharing of the global atmospheric commons, and of the risks of launching trading mechanisms without an agreement on sharing. Since then, the symptoms of climate change have become more apparent, the potential impacts for India appear to be much more devastating, and at the same time India’s growth juggernaut has resulted in more than a doubling of aggregate emissions, and made India (with China) the favorite excuse for inaction by the climate-denying USA and other nations. Given its still low per capita emissions, and the persistent problem of poverty on a massive scale, not to mention a plethora of local environmental issues, how might the Indian government and society respond to climate change mitigation debates? I shall argue that how one perceives India’s response depends first and foremost on how one frames the climate change problem—in isolation or as part of a larger question of sustainable and equitable development. Secondly, climate change mitigation can never be a major issue in itself for India, but it may give progressive Indian environmentalist another lever with which to question the environmentally destructive ‘growth-only’ paradigm currently in operation.

This talk is part of the Climate week Seminar series.

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