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Editorial | February 2016

The Long Journey from Rio to Paris

All this hullabaloo just to achieve a pithy two degrees? What will posterity say? Starting out from Rio in 1992 to Paris in 2015, via Berlin, Kyoto, Durban, Lima, Copenhagen, among others, it has been a rather long journey for climate change movement. During this time, the movement has been able to gather steam, by converting many a sceptic into evangelists-e.g. USA, and finally in Paris, the conference had 195 nations and other parties joining in the ¨Conference of Parties¨. It is definitely a measure of the success of the event, that with such a large and diverse collective, the conference could sign off on the Climate Goal. For humankind, agreeing to limit the rise of global average temperatures to within 2 degrees centigrade, of the pre-industrial temperatures, is the goal of the century. This, the global community agreed to achieve through capping or reducing emission of green house gases. For the climate watcher, it is interesting to note the diversity of approaches being adopted by various countries, all with that single goal in mind. This is a nice example of many paths, leading to one destination. In the next few years, observers will be keenly watching how all countries implement their action plans and deliver on the promises made in Paris. China and India in particular, will be under close watch. This makes it a great balancing act for India to make progress while contributing to CO2 mitigation. We need steel, cement, and most importantly, power, but we are on a Parisian tightrope.

Getting down to write this page, I am today also sobered by the fact that 1.3 billion people in our global community are without access to electricity in this 21st century, and of these, 300 million reside in India. Yes, there have been positive changes and progress, but this abject situation in the context of sweeping modernity all around us, makes for a profoundly disturbing statement. Any commentator of the Power Sector in India will do well to keep in mind this acute poverty of power when analysing CoP 21 strategies. Consider what India´s erudite Finance Minister Arun Jaitly said: ¨India is a developing nation, and we must first acknowledge her needs; the eradication of poverty must remain our priority.¨ This is why India´s climate change commitments have been designed to address environmental concerns while also enabling us to meet the growth aspirations of our citizens and our overall development ambitions. This aptly captures the contradictions and their resolution, from an Indian policy maker´s perspective, and hopefully, will also set the tone while delivering on our INDC (Individually Determined National Contribution). India will chart out its course towards development, combining and leveraging its competitive advantages of both coal and solar, and give electricity to ALL its people, at the same time delivering on its promises made to the planet earth.

For me, there is another aspect of Paris that is of interest, in the context of Global Policy Making, which has to be of course based on consensus. For the great big human community that we are, across the world, to agree across the table on climate goals, is a superlative achievement in itself. Such a massive consensus with 195 participating members, has not been attempted since GATT, and for me, this generates enough confidence in our minds that ¨we can¨! We can perhaps repeat this momentous success in some of the other complex problems confronting us, like extreme economic disparities, or religious extremism.

Enjoy reading. Please send us your feedback at Sumit@ASAPPmedia.com

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