Prime Minister Narendra Modi must have risen a determined man Monday morning, and it showed in his commanding speech during the opening session of the World Climate Change Conference 2015 (COP21) at Le Bourget, near Paris.
The rich countries have been in a state of slumber when it comes to doing their bit for climate, and Modi provided the perfect jerk. Talking tough, the Indian Prime Minister reminded the conference of the significant high carbon emissions of rich nations, without taking much-needed responsibility.
He is right, logically and every other way. In a fair system, emissions reduction should be proportionate with the carbon space, which nations occupy.
By demanding that the rich nations meet their obligations in a credible and transparent manner, Modi has taken the lead in fighting against the present inequality in the air. And he also wants the $100 billion-a-year plan for assistance from the rich to poor nations by 2020, expedited.
He went on to demand, to a riveted audience made up of world leaders, that the U.N.’s principles of equity and Common But Differentiated Responsibilities should form the basis of every formulation.
The West understands that fund is needed to clean up coal-based generation, which could be done using the Green Climate Fund, which needs scaling up. Nothing explains their failure to do what Modi is asking them to do. I wouldn’t like to believe that the coterie of rich nations is an insensitive lot. I’d like to believe they care…so their inaction is confusing.
At the same time, Modi must not lose sight of the fact that India is infamous for its own pollution and carbon emissions. Of the world’s top 20 polluted cities, 13 are in India, compared to just three in China. We have our own sense of guilt to deal with. But what was said was needed, too. And it was well said by the Prime Minister.