19 July 2009

India Stands Firm

The Washington Post has a very interesting article on some public tensions between U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Indian Environmental Minister Jairam Ramesh over India's role in climate mitigation (see also the news report from the Times of India in the video above). The article is worth reading in full, however here is an excerpt that I'd like to focus on:
As dozens of cameras recorded the scene, Ramesh declared that India would not commit to a deal that would require it to meet targets to reduce emissions. "It is not true that India is running away from mitigation," he said. But "India's position, let me be clear, is that we are simply not in the position to take legally binding emissions targets." "No one wants to in any way stall or undermine the economic growth that is necessary to lift millions more out of poverty," Clinton countered. "We also believe that there is a way to eradicate poverty and develop sustainability that will lower significantly the carbon footprint." Both sides appearing to be playing to the Indian audience, with Ramesh taking the opportunity to reinforce India's bottom line. Before the visit, U.S. officials were acutely aware that the Indian government has faced criticism at home for making what they considered relatively modest concessions on reducing greenhouse emissions earlier this month at a meeting of major economies. A leaked e-mail from former Indian negotiator Surya Sethi to other negotiators -- in which he asserted the decision would make India poorer -- generated a firestorm here.

Clinton was prepared to argue that countering climate change could actually lift India's economy, not undermine it. U.S. officials also believe, as one put it, that "developing countries are willing to do more than they are willing to agree to."
Here is where the logic of the US position breaks down: If "countering climate change" (whatever was meant by that phrase) did in fact lead to a "lifting" of India's economy, then there would be no need for India to sign on to targets and timetables for emissions targets, as it would make sense to take those actions anyway, since India has repeatedly and forcefully explained that increasing economic growth is its top priority. But India does not see those actions as "lifting" growth, either because they don't actually lift growth or India does not believe that they do. Either way, signing on to emissions reductions commitments is not in the cards for India.

What has India agreed to do? As explain by Minister Ramesh in the video above, India has committed to the Bali Action Plan of the UN FCCC, which includes this text:
(i) Measurable, reportable and verifiable nationally appropriate mitigation commitments or actions, including quantified emission limitation and reduction objectives, by all developed country Parties, while ensuring the comparability of efforts among them, taking into account differences in their national circumstances;

(ii) Nationally appropriate mitigation actions by developing country Parties in the context of sustainable development, supported and enabled by technology, financing and capacity-building, in a measurable, reportable and verifiable manner;
India accepts that they will take "actions" but they will make no "commitments." What is not up for debate is India's desire to achieve economic growth. So what is needed in efforts to slow emissions growth in India is to ensure that India has options available for "action" that can accelerate the decarbonization of its economy as it grows. This means technology. Talk of "commitments" to targets and timetables for emissions reductions is just a waste of time, as it has proven over and over again. Listen particularly to chief US negotiator Todd Stern in the video above and then Minister Ramesh, and you'll see strong evidence for the inescapable impotence of the emissions reduction targets and timetables approach to mitigation.


  1. Ten years from now (or less) we will look very foolish and India will be vindicated -- especially as CO2 levels (benignly to beneficially) continue to rise as the current cooling trend accelerates. Their economy will grow. Ours will contract and the course of climate change will not have been altered one WHIT.

    Want proof? Just examine the cost/benefit ratio of the disastrous Kyoto Protocol (which even Robert Byrd and John Kerry had the good sense to keep us out of).

    But, that was back when common sense still held a tiny bit of sway over this land. Today, we have, as a nation, become a suicidal cult which would make Jonestown look like small change.

    If you think the current recession is bad, you ain’t seen nothing yet! Just wait until the eco-cult has their way.

    Remember, in 1971, climate alarmist-in-chief James Hansen, warned the world “of an impending ice age within 50 years”. Of course, peer reviewed science suggests Hansen -- relying solely upon his computer model -- was off by about 49,950 years. Click here for more insight on that (including a now obsolete link to the Washington Times story which I linked to).

    Today, Hansen is still trying to scare the world with his equally flawed computer models. The only difference is he now has an even more complicit and even less reliable self-described propaganda machine behind him.

    Click here for some basic facts and peer reviewed science on climate change.

  2. Roger,

    Please note the common ground between Dr. Hansen (warmer) and Sen Alexander (skeptic) regarding nuclear power.

    Sen Alexander:

    "In his address, Alexander said that while nuclear power produces only 20 percent of America’s electricity, it produces 70 percent of carbon-free, pollution-free electricity. He said that one hundred nuclear plants would double U.S. electricity production from nuclear power in 20 years, making it about 40 percent of all electricity production. “Add 10 percent for sun and wind and other renewables, another 10 percent for hydroelectric, maybe 5 percent more for natural gas,” the senator added, “and we begin to have a cheap as well as clean energy policy.” "

    Dr. Hansen:

    "India, China and Nuclear Power.

    The fact that China has passed the United States in current CO2 emissions should not
    cause us to forget that of the excess 107 ppm of CO2 in the air today, the United States is
    responsible for three times more than China, so 10 times as much on a per capita basis.
    Compared to India, we are 25 times more responsible. What is the connection to nuclear power?
    In all countries first priority should be energy efficiency, which has tremendous potential.
    After that comes renewable energies and improved low-loss smart electric grids. Everybody
    hopes that will be enough, but I cannot find real world energy experts who believe that is likely
    in the foreseeable future, even in the United States. This is all the more true in India and China,
    which are even more dependent on coal and have faster growing energy demands.
    The current fleet of (2nd generation) nuclear power plants is aging. The 3rd generation
    plants that are likely to gain construction approval soon have some significant improvements
    over the 2nd generation, using less than 1 percent of the nuclear fuel, leaving the rest in longlived
    (>10,000 years) wastes. If that were the end of the story, I would not have any enthusiasm
    for nuclear power. However, it is clear that 4th generation nuclear power can be ready in the
    medium-term, within about 20 years. Some people argue that it could be much sooner –
    however, the time required for its implementation is of little importance.
    The reason that 4th generation nuclear power is a game-changer is that it can solve two of
    the biggest problems that have beset nuclear power. 4th generation uses almost all of the energy
    in the uranium (or thorium), thus decreasing fuel requirements by two orders of magnitude. It
    practically removes concern about fuel supply or energy used in mining – we already have fuel
    enough for centuries. Best of all, 4th generation reactors can “burn” nuclear waste, thus turning
    the biggest headache into an asset. The much smaller volume of waste from 4th generation
    reactors has lifetime of a few centuries, rather than tens of thousands of years. The fact that 4th
    generation reactors will be able to use the waste from 3rd generation plants changes the nuclear
    story fundamentally – making the combination of 3rd and 4th generation plants a much more
    attractive energy option than 3rd generation by itself would have been."

  3. The only way for the developing nations to make meaningful GHG reductions is for developed nations to construct technological solutions that objectively demonstrate GHG reduction while turning a nice profit (without resorting to Enron/Fannie-Mae accounting). Once these solutions are in place and working well in the First World, then we will have to give the technology away to developing nations and help them construct these solutions.

    Right now, we are telling India and China to do as I say, not as I do (or did). The American politics surrounding Climate continues to be Kabuki theatre. This gives the impression that there is no serious political will in the west to accomplish GHG reductions in a real, measureable sense.

    It's almost as if the western leaders are just going through the motions hoping it (climate fixation) will just fade away. Since both sides of the debate are fixated on fear-mongering and hyperbole, the public will continue to lose interest.

  4. Fixating on anything related to attempting to micromanage climate change is -- by far -- the most wasteful and useless endeavor any human beings have ever undertaken.

    There are so many far better goals to strive for.

    Just one example related to coal (a fossil fuel which -- like it or not -- we WILL continue to use for, at a minimum, many decades to come).

    It would make much more sense to focus on continuing to further reduce mercury emissions than to focus on what is clearly a useless fool’s errand -- reducing CO2 emissions.

    What scares me the most about the boundless ignorance of the eco-cultists (and their current Messiah) is related in the following quote (emphasis mine) from the previous link:

    “It is an inescapable fact that our species is dependent on fossil fuels, those solar energy generated, stored-in-the-ground biofuels that allowed us to lift ourselves up from poverty and build modern civilization. When it comes to electricity generation - you know, the stuff that powers the Chevy Volt - this largely means coal. Unless we are willing to retreat to a standard of living that would produce violent revolution if politically imposed, everyone better get used to the idea that coal is going to be around for a long time.”

    I would say a violent revolution is a very real possibility. And, honestly, I think that is exactly what some on the Left want. I don’t. Our first civil war was bad enough.

    Click here and examine propaganda vs. science when it comes to coal.