As the climate change negotiations kicked off in Paris on Sunday evening, India made it clear that it won’t back down on the “differentiation” between developed and developing nations when it comes to combating climate change, and it won’t apologise about its expanding use of coal. While India’s coal production target of 1.5 billion metric tons by 2020 has ruffled feathers, Power Minister Piyush Goyal, who is in Paris along with Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar, said that the Western world had developed by using cheap energy from fossil fuels.
“We are not at all apologetic about using coal. America and the Western world has developed on the back of cheap energy from coal for the last 150 years. And on the back of this low-cost energy, they made their highways, their railroads, factories, manufacturing, suddenly all their people have jobs, everybody there has a home, their per capita GDP income is over $70,000 and their growth is at zero,” Goyal said. “So now, they are finding the virtue of asking the rest of the world that please don’t grow. If you will grow as rapidly as India does then what happens to our countries,” he said.
Over a decade of negotiations, India insisted that developed countries shoulder a burden of combating climate change talks for pumping greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere for over a century. But that differentiation has been eroding since the talks in Copenhagen (2009) when the United States and the European Union went hammer and tongs on principles like “common but differentiated responsibilities” and “equity.” Far removed from the Kyoto Protocol, which the U.S. opposed because it only imposed legally binding emission reduction targets on developed countries, the new agreement will require all countries to take action.