In the intergovernmental climate negotiations India has consistently argued against greenhouse gas mitigation commitments for developing countries. This paper argues that while India’s position, given the burden sharing architecture of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and its Kyoto Protocol, is legitimate, it is not a sagacious position to hold. Poorer nations, and the poorest within them, will be the worst hit by climate change. 34.7% of Indians live on less than 1US$ a day. A vast majority of India’s poor are in rural areas and are dependent directly on climate-sensitive natural resources. The poor have the least adaptive capacity. And, climate change is predicted to have severe impacts in India. It is of critical importance that climate change concerns are mainstreamed into development planning, and concrete actions are taken to transition to a low carbon development pathway. It is also important that commitments are undertaken at a global level, if not now at some future point in time, for it is only cumulative global emissions reductions that will eventually impact the trajectory of climate change.
By Lavanya Rajamani