Ostrich Singh

India's response to Bush is very disappointing

 
By A Asha
Published: Monday 30 April 2001

Minister for external affairs Jaswant Singh has finally spoken -- however disappointingly -- on the issue of Bush dumping the Kyoto Protocol. At a press conference in Sweden, he announced that India is not under pressure from the United States to contribute to greenhouse gas (ghg) reductions. Even this statement was prodded out of him by the European media. At the same press conference, Swedish foreign minister Anna Lindh was more strident on behalf of India. While Singh waffled she came to the point, saying developed countries have to reduce their emissions before asking developing countries to make commitments.

Singh is either poorly informed, or simply desperate to stay on the right side of the Bush administration, even if this makes India look like a doormat. Bush could not have been more categorical -- he has said clearly that the us will not ratify the Kyoto Protocol because it exempts 'major population centres' such as China and India from ghg reductions. By refusing to take action on climate change for the reasons he states, Bush worsens two existing injustices. Not only does he not recognize the 'right to development' of developing countries, he also forgets that the actions of his country will impose economic costs on countries that have contributed the least to the global warming problem, both historically and currently. Bush has literally condemned developing country populations vulnerable to climate change to death, if not from drowning, then from malnutrition, drought and disease.

Bush's charge against India is that a major population centre like India can emit a lot even with low per capita emissions. The reason why India has to respond at this stage is because the us may well change its position and agree to ratify the Kyoto Protocol. In that event, India and China could very well become sacrificial goats offered by the international community to appease Bush and his senate. The European Union has announced that it will ratify the protocol without the us , and is now focussing on bringing Russia and Japan on board. Even the usa 's traditional ally, Canada, has announced that it will ratify the protocol, so that its industry can sell its (nuclear) technology to hapless southern governments under cdm . The us could find these compelling reasons to join.

Singh should know while the threats of population to the environment are well-known in the us , the consequences of their own overconsumption are not. For instance, Time magazine already claims that "giving India and China a carbon dioxide waiver while the us (has) to carry its share struck a lot of people as galling". So arguments of morality will stand for little if push comes to shove. It is important that India is equally loud in exposing the us for abdicating responsibility for its actions, and makes it clear to the global community that it has no intentions of taking on commitments just because the us thinks it should.

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