Why the Climate Fight Will Fail without India – Scientific American

Delhi Train Station (by Axel Drainville CC BY-NC 2.0 via Flickr).
Delhi Train Station (by Axel Drainville CC BY-NC 2.0 via Flickr).

India is at an energy crossroads: if it chooses fossil fuels, it could undermine global climate targets.

India is in the midst of the biggest climate experiment the world has ever known.

It’s a test that aims to transform a nation marked by deep economic inequality and heavily polluting coal power to one where families drive electric scooters and cool their homes with the sun’s energy. And it could determine whether global temperatures exceed limits beyond which climate impacts become increasingly disastrous.

It’s a challenge no other country has faced in quite the same way, say experts. The nation of 1.4 billion people could undermine global climate targets if it continues to rely on fossil fuels — with India facing some of the greatest dangers. Those same targets, set largely by industrialized nations that benefitted from unfettered energy development, could also limit the growth India desires to increase its economic prosperity.

“[India] is important because of its place in the development journey,” said Ulka Kelkar, director of the climate program at the World Resources Institute India (WRI).

“It still remains a lower-middle-income country, so the bulk of its economic development, and meeting various needs — of housing, water, energy, mobility, nutrition — all of these challenges still remain ahead,” she added. “And so far no country has met these goals without also causing greenhouse gas emissions, without using fossil fuels..”


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