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Chindia and the changing climate

world Updated: Jul 24, 2009 00:06 IST
Reshma Patil

This week, Hillary Clinton repeated in India what she told Beijing in February on her first foreign trip as the US Secretary of State. “We don’t want you to make the same mistakes we made’’.

Beijing hosted several top US envoys to discuss climate change this year, and will keenly follow the outcome of Clinton’s India visit.

For Indian planners, there is a learning opportunity in tracking the effectiveness of China’s mass investments and constant target revisions for wind, nuclear and solar energy production. China is now racing to be the biggest wind energy market, with wind energy ultimately planned as a bigger source than nuclear power.

China, the world’s largest coal consumer and producer, has overtaken the US as the world’s top emitter of heat-trapping greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming.

The US and China, the world’s largest developing economy, together account for 40 per cent of the world’s polluting emissions. India is the fourth-largest emitter. Both India and China share common ground on climate change diplomacy.

The Prime Ministers of both nations have made statements asking richer nations to change their unsustainable lifestyles and shoulder the bigger responsibility in battling climate change.

But China’s government seems more intensely involved in planning a nationwide environmental cleanup. Beijing plans to set emission targets for official development programmes. Promotions of senior bureaucrats depend on meeting energy targets. Last month, Chinese media reported that the

Cabinet will ‘name and shame’ provincial governments that failed energy saving targets in 2008.

The State-run media is constantly announcing government plans like the subsidised sales of millions of low-energy bulbs, partly to tell the world that China is serious about a tough target to save 20 per cent energy per unit of GDP, by 2010.

Chinese officials have suggested that developed nations divert one per cent of their GDP to fund clean energy research in developing nations.

This month in Beijing, the US and China announced a joint clean energy research centre.

In December, when the world meets in Copenhagen to discuss future emission cuts, the success of the negotiations could depend on the US and China probably more than India-China.