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UNDP development report urging further emissions cuts irks India


An auto-rickshaw emits exhaust fumes on a busy road in Bangalore on December 3, 2009. India has refused to accept binding emission cuts that it says could slow its economic growth and has instead highlighted voluntary actions to stem emissions, such as renewable energy. It also backs China in saying rich nations are historically responsible for global warming and should help fund emission-reduction efforts in poorer countries.



If Thursday's report from the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) is any indicator, India and other developing countries should be looking to put one of their own at the helm of that outfit, too -- along with the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF).

India's green energy sector was the second-fastest growing in the world in 2011, according to the Washington Post.

But in a new report (somewhat ironically) titled "One Planet," the UNDP recommends that India and other developing countries in Asia Pacific take greater responsibility to reduce emissions and warns that "inclusive growth" -- a dear slogan of India's United Progressive Alliance government -- will mean an increase in pollution that India can ill afford, reports the Times of India.

Now, nobody is in favor of global warming, or of pollution.  But it's tough for Indians, Brazilians, Nigerians and so on to swallow the idea that they should continue to do without electricity, cars, or air-conditioning to save the world, while per capita emissions in the Europe and the US are so much higher, and folks in those countries are responsible for the problem to begin with.

(It IS still called the UN Development Program, isn't it?)

According to the TOI, the UNDP didn't bother talking with India's environmental officials (which, admittedly, can be difficult).  And the entire report was founded on the premise that economic growth will inevitably result in higher emissions, without addressing the historical legacy of pollution by the world's largest economies.

"It pits the issue of growth against [the] environment, which is not a correct framework for analysis," an Indian official told TOI. "The very title of the report is objectionable. It suggests that cleaning up first, and growing up later should be the option."

As I've highlighted umpteen times on this blog, India is destroying its environment at a frantic pace in the pursuit of economic growth (and due to corruption).  But no doomsday scenario presented by the West is going to change that.  Instead, we need productive suggestions on how to make clean development financially feasible, and for the rich countries of the world to take a leadership position.