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MIHIR SHARMA: Is India prepared to be blamed for failure of the Copenhagen climate change conference?
If you look at the international discourse, India and China are made out to be the laggards. But the facts are otherwise. Yesterday, Nobel laureate and economist, Michael Spence, gave a lecture and he put forward a formula for international climate change negotiations which basically vindicated India's stand on the issue. In fact, major economists of the world, including Nobel laureates Tom Shelling and Spence, and others like Jagdish Bhagwati, Jeff Sachs and Nick Stern are united in saying that climate change can't move forward unless developed countries take on much greater obligations for cutting their emissions. So the international academic debate is in favour of India, though the international media debate is not. The line I have taken is that India must do things voluntarily and take commitments unilaterally. We will not agree to legally binding commitments but India needs to rethink its approach to mitigation. We need to mitigate and mitigate faster. Climate change does have local impacts. We are vulnerable. In the last 50 years, 45 per cent of the variability in the GDP is on account of rainfall variation. So the single most important message we need to give the world is that we are proactive, constructive, we want a fair and equitable agreement in Copenhagen.
India is a responsible player and taking on major commitments, not just for adaptation, which is the easy part, but mitigation, which is more difficult. That's the paradigm shift we need to bring about domestically. The big challenge is to take on mitigation requirements consistent with an 8 per cent GDP growth. I think it's possible. India should now boldly say that two years from now, we will have mandatory fuel efficiency standards, that X per cent of power will come from CO2 reducing technologies, that 5 per cent of India's cultivated area will be under organic farming, that by 2012, all states in India will have mandatory building codes which are energy efficiency compliant. Eleven per cent of our annual green house gas emissions get sequestered through forests. They are a huge carbon sink. We should say that by 2030, 15 per cent of annual GHG emissions will be sequestered.