Following on from today’s headline news that elections in the world’s largest democracy, India, have secured the BJP party a landslide victory, an important question must be asked;
How will this outcome impact on the countries view on climate change
mitigation and its role in international negotiations?
Whilst it’s difficult to gain a real sense of the decisions the new government will take in power, their manifesto offers some idea of the issues they see as key:
1. “Take steps to increase the domestic coal exploration and production…” (p.34)
2. “Give a thrust to renewable sources of energy…” (p.34)
On foreign policy
3. “We will champion uniform international opinion on issues like Terrorism and Global Warming.” (p.40)
As we in the UK know well enough, manifesto pledges don’t always equate to firm policy positions once a party is in power. However the lines quoted above leave me concerned.
Firstly and most noticeably, the lack of concrete actions or measures. There are no details on targets, deadline etc. There’s also a seemingly open commitment to exploit coal reserves in the country even more aggressively. In fact, India’s love of coal as their primary source of energy has meant that they are currently the third largest emitters of GHGs. Even more worrying is if you consider that the economy and middle classes within India are expanding, it’s almost inevitable that any reduction in the level of emissions being produced is a long way off and overall emission level will continue to grow. Lastly, on the issue of foreign policy they state they intend to ‘champion uniform international opinion’ on issues such as global warming and terrorism. This phrasing is vague at best and gives no idea regarding the stance they’ll adopt at future COPs.
It should also be noted that India is one of the most outspoken countries on the international stage that supports a continuation of the developed/ developing split on climate mitigation found in the Kyoto Protocol. In the run up to Lima this year and Paris in 2015, we need to ensure all nations (who are emitting GHGs) are ready to commit to binding emissions reduction targets regardless of their development status. Allowing the largest emitters (USA, China, India etc) to achieve non-binding targets would be an ultimate failure and make any contributions by the EU redundant.
Time is running out for countries such as India to make these decisions, not only for the international community but increasingly for the validity of the European stance which despite being well-established, is at risk of failure unless agreement and cooperation along EU lines (ambition, techniques etc) can be secured.
So overall and based on the scarce information within their manifesto document, it would appear that the BJP will continue a ‘business as usual’ approach to India’s role in international climate change mitigation.