The US’ decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement is creating a leadership vacuum and India has an opportunity to develop a strategic leadership in climate control process, former union minister Jairam Ramesh said here today. “The US withdrawing from Paris climate deal is creating a vacuum for the leadership and India has an opportunity to develop a strategic leadership in climate control process. We should be pragmatic as it creates an opportunity for India. China has already seized the opportunity and its leader Xi Jinping has given lecture on globalisation,” Ramesh said. He was speaking at ‘Paris Climate Change Pact: After Trump pull-out, who will save the world’, organised by Mumbai-based think tank Observer Research Foundation (ORF). Its chairman Sudheendra Kulkarni was present at the talk. The former Union Minister for Environment and Forests, said, “India’s per capita carbon emission is two tonnes. China’s per capita emission is eight tonnes and that of the US is 15 tonnes. Climate change is a global issue, but it affects India the most.”
“It is in India’s political and economic interests not to adopt a moralistic stand. This is a golden opportunity for India. Chinese Premier went to Davos and spoke on virtues of globalisation…Unheard of and he is now talking about climate change. India should stand up and take the opportunity to gain the leadership. And, leadership not through words, but through actions is important,” Ramesh said.
India is probably the only country, which has four types of vulnerability– glaciers are melting, forest is degrading, southwest monsoon pattern is changing and sea level is rising–in terms of climate change, he said. “Earlier, we used to say in such climate summits that we were not contributor to green house emissions, hence we should not cut our low emissions further. But, now we are the fourth largest (5 per cent) contributor in green house emissions, he said. “We are vulnerable to several climatic changes and let’s take the responsibility for it. India and China had worked exceedingly good in Copenhagen climate meet and those discussions have reached up to Paris pact,” Ramesh said.
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“I am afraid the planet is beyond saving. Because most of the planetary boundaries have been crossed by now. What we are engaged in right now is damage control. It will be very very difficult to reverse the course,” he said. We need environmentalism of livelihood issues and not lifestyle-related issues, Ramesh said.