Gustavo De Aristegui: India can lead the fight against climate change
As the UN Conference COP22 comes to an end in Marrakesh, many still doubt the importance of climate change and its impact on geopolitics, the economy, security, the well-being of billions of people and the future of the Planet. Calculations by experts are frightening, and the effects on food supplies, harvests, weather and almost everything, are undeniable. Some climate change supporters have used flawed data, and that has hurt the cause of fighting against this terrible Damocles’ sword. The fanatical amateurish paladins of climate change and their arch nemesis, the deniers of climate change, are equally irresponsible; this too serious to make it a bone of political contention.
But let’s focus on the real consequences for the world economy, and more specifically for the economies of emerging world powers. Much has been said about the need of a moratorium for those countries that are not yet fully developed, and that the biggest polluters have reached their incredible level of wealth on the back of every other inhabitant of the Planet. That may be true, but that is crying over spilled milk.
The essence of the premise is wrong — the more developed the country, the more means it has to fight some of the consequences of climate change.
The phenomena have burdened the lives of the poorest farmers, who have lesser access to clean water, their farms becoming wastelands, and desserts advancing at speeds unheard of for centuries. Cattle have less pastures to graze on and their owners have to look for new lands. This is happening in many countries in Africa, sometimes fuelling conflict between farmers and cattle herders.
India has a phenomenal role to play in this field, not only because it is home to almost 17 per cent of the world’s population, but because by becoming a champion of green energies, clean water, river rejuvenation, sustainable development and clean industries, it will be doing Humanity a service, and itself. India is one of the hardest-stricken countries by climate change, and its governments have been committed to the cause. But what really is important is that Prime Minister Modi’s government is the most active and engaged Centre-of-Right Government, that promotes green energy, clean industry and sustainable development.
This is an example of true world leadership. India’s clean energy mission is the largest single initiative of its kind in the World, and some of India’s leading industrial groups have become champions of solar or wind power in just a few years.
India has a unique opportunity to become a leader in this change. It is growingly obvious that not having gone through some phases of development is a great advantage. African farmers went from cash economies to cellphone payment, which has boosted their productivity because many of them embraced the method because they did not have credit or debit cards, and therefore old habits to kick.
The same applies to clean energy; fossil fuel-based energies will not be replaced overnight. India’s energy consumption has been growing and there are still enormous shortages to correct, but the clean energy strategy will greatly contribute to making India not only a herald of sustainable development, but a world leader in climate change.