Ahead of the UN talks on global warming, Union environment minister Prakash Javadekar has said that only an “Indian lifestyle” free of the extravagant habits of the West can save the world from the worst of climate change.
Javadekar, on Monday, asserted that India would emit more greenhouse gases as it grows to beat poverty but that it would keep its peak per capita emissions below that of the US and China thanks to a more sustainable way of life.
“The world ultimately should debate about lifestyle issues, because this planet will not be sufficient for sustaining the extravagant lifestyle. Indian lifestyle is a sustainable way of life. It’s not born out of poverty, it’s out of values we cherish,” he told Reuters in an interview.
He did not elaborate on what an Indian lifestyle constituted but Javadekar has previously talked about Indians’ abhorrence of wasteful consumption and said even those who have disposable incomes tend to live simpler lives than those in the developed world.
Close to 200 countries will meet in Paris in December and try to hammer out a deal to slow man-made climate change by agreeing to keep temperatures below a ceiling of 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
India, which is expected to release its pledges for Paris later this month, is one of the few large economies not to commit to a “peak year” for its carbon emissions.
Javadekar said India’s peak would be a “distant” one because the country needed to fight poverty and give the more than 300 million Indians still living without power access to energy.
Instead, at Paris, India will commit to reducing emissions produced per unit of economic growth if the developed world can provide more technology and finance to combat global warming, Javadekar said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has previously said the world should look to traditional methods, like switching off street lights on full-moon nights.
Last year he told the United Nations India’s Hindu and ascetic traditions might provide the answers to climate change.
Modi’s government has made much of its push into renewable energy but India is also increasing coal production. The use of cars, air conditioning and air travel is expanding rapidly.
Environmentalists fear India will follow the same path in emissions growth as other countries when they industrialised quickly.
India, an influential voice in climate talks that often speaks on behalf of the developing world, is sticking to its long-held position that developed countries must do the most to tackle man-made climate change because they caused it.
India currently emits two tonnes of carbon dioxide per capita, less than the world average of five. China, committed to cut its emissions before 2030, will be producing 14 tonnes per capita within 20 years, Javadekar said.
The French envoy for the Paris summit warned earlier this month that the meeting could end in failure if those countries most at risk were not reassured by the promises of developed countries.