Legal and Policy Challenges for the World Economy
New Horizons in Environmental and Energy Law series
Edited by Benjamin J. Richardson, Yves Le Bouthillier, Heather McLeod-Kilmurray and Stepan Wood
Chapter 3: India’s Constitutional Challenge: A Less Visible Climate Change Catastrophe
Deepa Badrinarayana* INTRODUCTION 1. At the heart of dissonance between the United States (US) and developing countries such as India in the climate change debate are issues of economic growth and equity. Particularly during the Bush Administration, the US government has argued that it would be economically disadvantaged if it accepted legally binding responsibility to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, despite its historic contribution to the problem. India, for its part, argues that it cannot be equitably required to accept legal obligations, given its economic problems and its historically low contribution to the climate change problem. India’s negotiation stance, however, fails to reflect grave internal economic and equitable problems that will be exacerbated by climate change. Some of the poorest people in India are included in the numbers that the Indian government uses to argue that the country’s per capita share of GHG emissions is very low. However, the benefit from relying on their low per capita use of resources in order to justify the government’s refusal to accept binding emissions targets will not flow to these poorest people; they will in fact pay most of the price of inaction. The current position of the Indian government needs to be reviewed, and will, it is hoped, be reviewed in the negotiations to revise the Kyoto Protocol for the period beyond 2012, in light of two potential, critical concerns analysed in this chapter. The first is that climate change induced catastrophes would directly deprive many Indians of their rights to life...
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