Earth Day, Climate Change, and the Poor: What’s a Christian From India to Think?

In Climate Change, Development, Economics, Environment, Technology, Uncategorized by Vijay Jayaraj0 Comments

April 22 is being defined by the global media as a landmark day, and praises have been heaped upon the global leaders who devised the Climate Change agreement in Paris last year. In a ceremony to be convened at the UN Headquarters in New York, India, along with over 130 other nations, will ratify the Conference of Parties (COP) 21 global climate agreement.

But does India have the capacity to achieve emission targets without compromising its efforts to end poverty? Will the reduction in carbon dioxide emissions really help India, or anyone else for that matter?

India is home to 18 percent of the world’s population yet uses only 6 percent of the world’s primary energy. That leaves 280 million Indians without access to power, and millions more with access to fluctuating, spotty supplies of electricity. By 2040, India will constitute one-quarter of the total increase in global energy demand.

About 70 percent of India’s electricity comes from coal-fired plants. Coal, the most plentiful domestic fossil-fuel resource, will remain the backbone of the Indian power sector for the foreseeable future. India has pledged a 30-35 percent reduction in the carbon intensity of its economy by 2030 from 2005 levels at a cost of $2.5 trillion. Various practical challenges have prompted the International Energy Agency (IEA) to lower the projected solar PV capacity to 40 gigawatts (GW) by 2022, which is significantly less than the 100 GW target that was pledged by India.

According to International Energy Agency (IEA), even if a greater proportion of India’s energy comes from low or zero-carbon energy sources, India’s overall carbon dioxide emissions are still projected to double by 2040 (5.2 billion tonnes per annum). Thus, the country’s coal use makes it difficult for the current emission targets to be met, as the excess emissions from its ever-expanding coal industry will outweigh any savings from new renewable sources.

Climate Justice was the buzzword for India at Paris last year and will continue to be so in the coming years. According to the Environment Minister of India, India was not a part of the problem (Anthropogenic global warming AGW), yet the country is willing to be a part of the Solution (Paris Agreement). Last week, he said “climate change was a reality with a 1 degree Celsius rise in temperature caused by 150 years of uncontrolled carbon emission by the developed world. India was responsible for only 3 percent carbon emissions.”

India feels it is at the receiving end. The last thing it wanted is a climate change based global energy curfew. The country is in a phase where it needs monumental increases in energy production to sustain its economy and reduce poverty. Last year, a first-of-its-kind socio-economic survey revealed that poverty is the way of life for 70 percent of India’s 1.25 billion people living in rural areas.

India needs development policies that will propel its industries forward — industries that are dependent on clean, affordable, reliable, conventional sources of energy.

The climate alarmists give no rationale for constructing policies that are detrimental to the marginalized and poor. There are no reports in the global media on how these policies would impact poor people across the globe and understandably so, because they are afraid of admitting it.

It is also critical to note, contrary to popular propaganda, the science of climate change is not settled. Real world satellite-based temperature measurements show us that there has been a pause in ‘global warming’ during the past 18 years, thus categorically dismissing the hypothesis of Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming (CAGW) resulting from carbon dioxide emissions.

This ‘pause’ was not a result of reduction in carbon dioxide emissions and thus cannot be attributed to the human effort to stall global warming. The computer climate-models used by IPCC are therefore inadequate and erroneous in their ability to reflect real world temperature changes. In fact, 95 percent of those models predicted temperature increases two to three times higher than the observed temperature increase. The projections based on these models therefore should not be used as the foundation for devising global energy policies, such as the agreements at COP 21.

The rhetoric I hear in the global liberal media about the evil nature of mankind, with regard to climate change, is totally unscientific. The rationale behind CAGW gives no basis to impede the life of my kin and countrymen and is based on unscientific moral environmental etiquettes defined by other members of the global community.

As a Christian who believes it a moral imperative to protect the poor and vulnerable from harm when we can, I believe it is essential we agree that developing countries (which harbor the majority of global poverty) have the right to industrial and economic growth, at the same pace that Western civilization enjoyed in the past two centuries.

Disagreement on this particular subject only reveals the apathy of developed nations towards those in poor countries.

Last week, the Secretary-General of the United Nations claimed “Paris was historic.” It is historic indeed! For never before did so many nations commit to an agenda that so overwhelmingly and irrationally undermines the ability of poor countries to economically develop and become energy secure. But science will win, the truth will be revealed, and my people will rise out of poverty — with or without the permission of the global environmental oligarchy.

This article was originally published on  The Stream

Featured image courtesy of John Haslam/Flickr CC.

Vijay Jayaraj (M.S., Environmental Science) is the Research Associate for Developing Countries for the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation. He currently lives in Udumalpet, India.

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