India Alters Its Position On Climate Change

Paris Conference on Climate Change

Until December 9, 2015, India represented one of the biggest hurdles to an effective global strategy to address climate change. It’s position was simple. It chided all first world countries, saying, in effect, “You got wealthy by burning fossil fuels. Now it’s our turn.” India said it would build a massive new network of coal fired electric generating facilities to power its way to prosperity.

For world leaders, India’s position presented a conundrum. No one can argue that Europe, the United States and other leading economies haven’t pumped trillions of tons of carbon dioxide and other emissions into the atmosphere over the past two centuries. But the atmosphere is now saturated and cannot hold any more. How to show developing nations a way forward without further poisoning the environment?

The solution, of course, is so obvious that even an child can see it. Or it may be more accurate to say that only a child can see it. The answer to India’s need for energy lies in renewables like solar, wind, geothermal and the like. Yesterday in Paris, India’s senior negotiator, Ajay Mathur, abruptly altered his country’s stance, saying India “will cut back its use of coal, if sufficient cash for renewables emerges from a Paris deal. We look forward to an agreement that enables financial support from the countries that have developed on the backs of cheap energy, to those who have to meet their energy with more expensive but low carbon energy,” according to the BBC.

But here’s the rub. Congressional leaders in the US have already gone on record as opposing spending one penny to help other countries. The fact that they are willing to fund unlimited war, regardless of cost, does not bother them in the slightest. Most lack the intellectual fire power to understand that climate change and global warfare are inextricably linked. Warfare to secure access to oil has already cost America many trillions of dollar and will consume metric tons of money in the future if the cycle of violence is not broken. How sad that many of our national leaders are unable to do simple math.

For those who say that supporting other countries in their quest to become fossil fuel free is too expensive, remember that the International Monetary Fund estimates that the nations of the world provide more than 5 trillion dollars a year in direct and indirect incentives to fossil fuel interests every year. That is 5,000 times more money than would be required to help India and other similar countries acquire the resources they need to power their economies in perpetuity from renewable sources.

“We are very clear that solar and wind is our first commitment, hydro and nuclear all of these non-carbon sources are what we will develop to the largest extent we can. What cannot be met by these will be met by coal,” Mr. Mathur says. Now, according to Think Progress, it is time for the world’s leading nations to step up and lend a hand to countries like India. It will cost less money to do so than it will cost to sit idly by and do nothing. It’s a no brainer.

Still, no brainers are beyond the ability of many members of Congress, from Mitch McConnell on down. They would gladly sell their souls to wealthy fossil fuel interests as long as they can continue to hold on to their seats. Many years ago, the man who wrote “Over The Rainbow” published a series of satirical poems entitled “Rhymes For The Irreverent.” His name was Yip Harburg and his wit was razor sharp. When asked whether a friend should write a letter to his Congressman, he penned this ditty: “Each Congressman has two ends — a sitting and a thinking end. And since his whole career depends upon his seat……why bother friend?”


Steve Hanley

Closely following the transition from internal combustion to electricity. Whether it's cars, trucks, ships, or airplanes, sustainability is the key. Please follow me on Google + and Twitter.