Wednesday, December 02, 2015

What the NYT editorial board heard Modi say, and what Modi actually said

NYTimes Editorial: What Narendra Modi can do in Paris

What Modi said in Paris (full text):

What the NYT Editorial board heard Modi say:
Speaking in Paris on Monday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi blamed “the prosperity and progress of an industrial age powered by fossil fuel” for the climate change crisis, and noted that “we in India face its consequences today.”
What Modi said:
Over the next few days, we will decide the fate of this planet. We do so when the consequences of the industrial age powered by fossil fuel are evident, especially on the lives of the poor.

The prosperous still have a strong carbon footprint. And, the world's billions at the bottom of the development ladder are seeking space to grow.
a. What else other than the industrial age powered by fossil fuel is responsible for the increasing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere?

b. India doesn't have a billion poor; Modi here is talking about all the world's poor, not just "we in India".

What the NYT Editorial board heard:
In framing the Paris climate talks in terms of historical responsibility, India could be setting itself up for playing the role of the spoiler for a climate change agreement that, for all its shortcomings, does something important: acknowledge a collective responsibility among nations to avert a global catastrophe.

What Modi said (some emphasis added):
Democratic India must grow rapidly to meet the aspirations of 1.25 billion people, 300 million of whom are without access to energy.
We are determined to do so, guided by our ancient belief that people and planet are inseparable; that human well being and Nature are indivisible.

So, we have set ambitious targets. By 2030, we will reduce emissions by 33 to 35% per cent of 2005 levels, and 40 per cent of our installed capacity will be from our non- fossil fuels.

We will achieve it by expanding renewable energy - for, example, by adding 175 Gigawatts of renewable generation by 2022. We will enlarge our forest cover to absorb at least 2.5 billion tonnes worth of carbon dioxide.

We are reducing dependence on fossil fuel through levies and reduction in subsidies; switching sources of fuel where possible; and, transforming cities and public transportation.

We hope advanced nations will assume ambitious targets and pursue them sincerely. It is not just a question of historical responsibility. They also have the most room to make the cuts and make the strongest impact.
And, climate justice demands that, with the little carbon space we still have, developing countries should have enough room to grow.
i.e., India accepts collective responsibility - human well-being is inseparable from Nature, and Nature does not respect national boundaries. India will try to alleviate the impact of its growth necessary to remove poverty with cleaner technology.  But just as robbers target banks because that is where the money is, carbon footprint cuts should go after where the largest carbon dioxide emissions are.  It is not just a question of historical responsibility, it is where one can make the quickest strong impact.  Stopping the future growth of developing countries (carbon dioxide not yet in the atmosphere, and not there for another 10 years or so) has less impact than cutting existing emissions of carbon dioxide.

PS: Four myths about climate change in South Asia