Consensus

Consensus on global warming is what concerned citizens of the world are looking for.

Al Gore, the former US Vice President and Noble laureate, exhorted India to take the lead on climate control, while launching the Indian chapter of his NGO “Climate Project” along with local Indian partners in New Delhi on 15th March, 2008.

He was followed by the former British Prime Minister Tony Blair for the launch of the climate initiative in India, “Breaking The Climate Deadlock” on 20th March, 2008.

The gist of the speeches given by them was more or less the same, namely that:

  • Developed countries have created the problem of emitting more greenhouse gases than developing countries.
  • Developing countries like India and China have the right to focus their attention on their primary responsibilities of developing their industries, removing poverty, providing health care, education and other basic amenities to their citizens.
  • But they should take the lead in solving the problem of global warming instead of sticking to the stand that they need not make any binding commitments on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Al Gore emphasized the concept that the developing countries should not get satisfied with themselves by comparing their lower pollution levels with those of the developed countries. The technologies they are using are old and represent the past.

    Hence they should make out how much they can achieve with efficient technologies in the 21st century.

    He also said that the correct comparison is between the future we want and the future we will have unless we take the right path.

    Tony Blair said that if the developing countries expect the developed world to take a determined action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, then it was fair to ask India and China also to do it.

    All it needs is global consensus according to him.

    Political leaders have the responsibility to decide on the policies to be followed by their countries. For this they take advice from various sections of the public studying the economic, scientific and environmental and many other parameters involved.

    But when it comes to contentious issues, political leaders take decisions depending on their level:

  • Local level politicians give precedence to local issues as compared to national issues.
  • National level politicians give precedence to issues with which their countries are primarily concerned rather than what ails the international community.
  • But political leaders who have achieved the highest status in their respective countries and who wish to reach the level of international statesmen have a far higher and exalted vision for the world.

    They present a model or a solution to the world on contentious issues from this perspective.

    But the views expressed by such political leaders may not find ready acceptance or consensus by the leaders of countries who have their compulsions as seen above especially when it becomes a conflict of interest between developed and developing countries.

    One approach to solve the problem of global warming is by transferring newer and cleaner technologies - such as wind power or solar power - from the developed countries to the developing countries in power generation sectors, to replace the older coal fired power generation equipments, since they produce high levels of greenhouse gases.

    On the face of it, it may not be easy.

    The developed countries may not be willing to transfer the technologies to the developing countries unless their terms and conditions are satisfied by the developing countries.

    It will be easy for the developing countries to say that there is no compulsion for them to satisfy the terms and conditions imposed by the developed countries, since it is not binding on them to reduce the greenhouse gases.

    Even if they are willing to carry out the tasks of changing over to newer technologies, they may not be able to go ahead with them if the costs are prohibitive and the returns are long in getting realized.

    One approach to break such a deadlock and achieve consensus can be as follows:

    India is the fifth highest emitter of greenhouse gases even though their per capita emission is very low as compared to that of developed countries like US.

    China is emitting far higher levels of greenhouse gases and as per experts may soon replace the US as the highest emitter of greenhouse gases.

    Even though it is not binding on them to make any commitment to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases...

    ... if India can be persuaded to accept newer technologies from the developed countries even if the terms are not completely satisfactory for them...

    ... then they can earn the respect of the other countries for becoming a role model for other developing countries with high emission of greenhouse gases and ...

    ... making voluntary contribution for the cause of reduction of greenhouse gases.

    They will get newer and cleaner technologies from the developed countries, who in turn will get carbon credits for the transfer of the technology.

    Both Al Gore and Tony Blair have risen above national level and are moving towards the level of international statesmen now. They are relatively young and the world needs the services of such dynamic leaders.

    They have the caliber to generate consensus between the developed and developing countries and provide the required solutions.

    A win-win situation indeed.

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