Toward a Progressive Indian and Global Climate Politics

1 September 2009

This paper discusses domestic politics around climate change in India as an entry point to understanding India’s role in global climate negotiations. I suggest there is broad agreement within India on three issues: India is being unfairly labelled a “major emitter”; India has a considerable ongoing development burden; and India is already moving in the right direction on climate mitigation. However, on each of these issues there is a healthy under-current of domestic debate. Moreover, broad agreement in perspective does not translate to strategic unanimity. Instead, I suggest there are three divergent positions within India: growth-first stonewallers, progressive realists, and progressive internationalists. For a renewed Indian climate politics, the two progressive groups will have to join forces. However, this will require far stronger signals of good faith from the international community and industrialized countries in particular. The paper concludes with a discussion of what India and Annex 1 could do to shift the debate.