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India 'cares little' about UN chief's call: Ending fossil fuel use only way to save planet

By Shankar Sharma* 

A few of the recent new items should indicate to us the seriously troubling days ahead of us in view of the irrational/ irresponsible stand taken by our government, which likes to call itself a global leader, in various COP meets such as in COP28.
Most deplorable aspect of such a stand is that there has been no explanation/ public consultation/ substantiation on the policies/ action plans to address the catastrophic consequences of climate change.
These people claiming to represent a country as a responsible member of the UN seems to have no care about the UN chief's call (as well as call by other global agencies such as UNEP, WHO, IPCC etc.) at COP28: "Ending fossil fuel use only way to save planet".
The much touted slogan: "sub ke saath, sub ka vikaas, sub ka vishwaas, sub ka prayas" appears like just a rhetoric.
Taking pride in claiming to be the fifth largest economy, and hoping to be the third largest soon, it seems to have no responsibility/ accountability attached to such claims in honestly minimising the associated ecological destruction.
India's lofty claims on being global leader in climate action, through statements such as "India reduced emission intensity by 33%, reached target early" can be seen as totally ineffective to reduce the climate change related threats, when we also get to read reports to say that "India’s emissions up 4.6% in 2016-19, new climate plans show".
It should not be difficult for anyone to realise that even if statement such as "The country aims to reduce GDP emission intensity by 45 per cent by 2030 from 2005 levels" become true, the net effect on GHG emissions by 2030 can be that India's total GHG emissions can go up by a considerable margin since it's GDP also would have doubled or trebled by that time.
Even if it is the case that our leaders do not care for much of the global pressure to reduce its overall carbon foot print, it must not ignore the associated consequences on the true welfare of all sections of its people, which also includes the flora, fauna and the general environment on a sustainable basis.
So, the country needs to urgently undertake a rational set of actions, not only to effectively reduce its total GHG emissions by 2030 and beyond, but also to adequately protect its critical natural resources, as might be indicated by the acceptable pollution/ contamination levels of its air, water and soil, and by ensuring forest & tree cover of its land to an extent of at least 33%.
When we objectively consider the various associated policies and ad-hoc statements of the govt., it is impossible to project the feasibility of such a happy scenario even by 2050. Even if our elite public / higher educational/ research institutions ignore to focus on such critical and strategic issues, the role of civil society groups become vastly more important to pursue our govt. to act rationally, as called by more than 1,000 climate scientists.
*Power & Climate Policy Analyst



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