Leading Indian scientist R.K. Pachauri (68), heads the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the world organisation that won the 2008 Nobel Prize with former US Vice-President Al Gore. He has been in the thick of negotiations to stop the warming of the Earth, urging world leaders to set aside their differences and act fast. In an interview with the Hindustan Times, he said India must not yield to Western pressure, but it isn’t doing enough at home.
Will a political statement at the Copenhagen climate conference be enough?
Just a political statement at Copenhagen does not make sense. It will be like going backwards on the Bali Action Plan, which was also a political statement. We many not have country-wise commitments but rich countries should commit to reducing emissions, say by 25-40 per cent. Countries should come with concrete plans at Copenhagen.
Who would you regard as the biggest climate villian?
The biggest problem is the United States. Except the US, most rich countries have declared targets to reduce emissions. The European Union is willing to cut 30 per cent of its emissions by 2030, Japan has announced 15 per cent, and Australia has also declared a plan. The biggest polluters are (in) North America, US and Canada. They have not come on board. Unless they come out with specific emission-reduction targets, a global climate treaty will be a distant possibility
What will you like developed countries to do first?
They (developed countries) should at least announce an annual committment of perhaps $ 5 to 10 billion (Rs 500 crore to Rs 1,000 crore) to fund technology transfers to the developing world. No such commitment has been made also because the developing world failed to do its homework on technology transfer. Developing countries have not asked for specific funds for clean technologies like CFLs (compact flourescent lamps). Developing countries need to do their homework better and present a wish list for the Copenhagen conference.
Should India accept emission cuts?
India should not accept anything, unless rich countries declare their commitments. It would be unfair for anyone to expect India or China to take action without countries contributing significantly.
Is India doing enough domestically?
For a start, India has done well. Targets under the solar energy mission and other missions under the (National) Action Plan on Climate Change are ambitious. The time has come for India to act. There has been lots of talk but very little action. Experts said 25 years ago that India cities need sound public-transport systems; not much has happened. We have also been talking of energy efficient buildings and solar energy. If we can implement some of the energy-efficiency measures announced over the next three years, India can save 25 to 40 per cent of its carbon emissions. I would like to see a political commitment from India to act. IPCC reports, off late, have evoked controversies. The environment ministry recently released a discussion paper on glacial melt, which contradicted IPCC findings that Himalayan glaciers are melting. Science will tell the world the truth in due course. I don't want to join issue with the government any more. I have spoken enough.