Is an even bigger refugee crisis coming? As Europe struggles with its largest refugee crisis since the Second World War, the president of France, François Hollande, has warned that failure to reach a global agreement at the upcoming climate change talks in Paris this December could result in millions of refugees fleeing climate disaster.
One of the key sticking points in the negotiations is the question of financial assistance for developing countries, to help them cut emissions and make the transition towards cleaner economies. Developing countries argue that they have not been responsible for the bulk of greenhouse gas emissions produced since the industrial revolution. On the other hand, developed countries are worried that accepting too much liability will open a Pandora’s Box of blame, and argue they do not have the resources to tackle the issue alone.
India is one country that argues the West should pay more for climate change. Can Europe and India reach an agreement on this question? Is there a way round this impasse to a solution that both sides are happy with? To get a response, we spoke to Rajni Bakshi, Gandhi Peace Fellow at Gateway House, an Indian foreign policy think-tank. Here’s what she had to say about EU-India cooperation on climate change:
Well, let’s first look at the need end of it from India’s point of view. I was just looking at chart showing the historical availability of electricity, and Europe has been in the 100% electricity access category for 40 or 50 years now. In India, however, the reality is that only 67% of the rural population and 93% of the urban population have electricity today. So, in India [increasing our electricity supply] is a question of fairness of access to what is an essential good…
That’s the context. Therefore the most basic way this cooperation can thrive is for Europe to continue to make more ambitious cuts. As you know, the European targets are way above the American ones, and that’s very much appreciated in India, but most of the environmental movement in India perceive that the European targets need to be still a little bit more ambitious…
To get another perspective, we also spoke to Neena Gill, a British Labour MEP and Vice-Chair of the European Parliament Delegation for relations with India. Did she think that rich countries should pay more for climate change?
Well, this is exactly the position of the Indian government. I believe the World Resources Institute has calculated that India was responsible for only 2.4% of greenhouse gas emissions globally since 1850. So, India clearly believes that the developed world has caused the problem and should pay more. So, India is looking to the West to support its energy projects, and it expects developed countries to do more.
Having said that, the developed world alone cannot address the entire climate change problem alone. I think it is important that every country takes on its responsibilities. So, I think the developed world should makes available technical assistance to developing countries, but it’s important that this challenge is addressed by all countries.
Should rich countries pay more for climate change? Should the EU offer greater support to India because of Europe’s historical legacy of greenhouse gas emissions? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below, and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!