INDIA ATTACKS WESTERN CLIMATE ALARMISM
Financial Times, 24 July 2009
By James Lamont in New Delhi, Joshua Chaffin in Are and Fiona Harvey in London
Himalayas a key area of contention.
A split between rich and poor nations in the run-up to climate-change talks widened on Thursday.
India rejected key scientific findings on global warming, while the European Union called for more action by developing states on greenhouse gas emissions.
Jairam Ramesh, the Indian environment minister, accused the developed world of needlessly raising alarm over melting Himalayan glaciers.
He dismissed scientists’ predictions that Himalayan glaciers might disappear within 40 years as a result of global warming.
“We have to get out of the preconceived notion, which is based on western media, and invest our scientific research and other capacities to study Himalayan atmosphere,” he said.
“Science has its limitation. You cannot substitute the knowledge that has been gained by the people living in cold deserts through everyday experience.”
Mr Ramesh was also clear that India would not take on targets to cut its emissions, even though developed countries are asking only for curbs in the growth of emissions, rather than absolute cuts.
India has taken the hardest line in the negotiations so far. Along with China, India refused at the meeting of the Group of Eight industrialised nations this month to sign up to a target of cutting global emissions by half by 2050. The countries were holding out to gain concessions from the west on financing.
The claims from Mr Ramesh that Western science was wrong on the question of melting Himalayan glaciers appeared to reinforce Delhi’s recalcitrant stance.
Mr Ramesh this week challenged Hillary Clinton, US secretary of state, over her appeal to India to embrace a low-carbon future and not repeat the mistakes of the developed world in seeking fast industrialisation.
Mr Ramesh said the rate of retreat of glaciers in the Himalayas varied from a “couple of centimetres a year to a couple of metres”, but that this was a natural process that had taken place occurred over the centuries. Some were, in fact, growing, he said.
The glaciers – estimated by India’s space agency to number about 15,000 – had also been affected by debris and the large number of tourists, he said.