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The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has recently reconfirmed that human-induced global warming is gathering pace and is affecting many critical aspects of life including food, water, energy and livelihood security. The reasons for climate change – increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases, mainly carbon dioxide, due to fossil fuel use – are also scientifically well-established by now.

Countries closer to the equator – including India – are already facing more impacts of climate change than countries in temperate regions. Scientific studies show that this trend is likely to accelerate.

Large emerging economies like that of India face a serious dilemma. India is already the world’s third largest carbon emitter after China and the USA. At the same time, an estimated 400 million Indians are without access to electricity, and current government plans to provide energy to all are heavily dependent on accelerating fossil fuel use.

For two decades at international climate negotiations, Indian officials have mostly stuck to the line that climate change is a problem that has been created by the rich world, so the solution must come from it. They have pointed out that most of the extra carbon in the atmosphere has been put there by developed countries since the start of the Industrial Age. Even today, India’s per capita carbon emission is less than one-tenth of that in the USA. So, the argument goes, any government that asks India to control its carbon emissions must pay for it, in money and through cheap technology transfer. To buttress this argument, there is a growing body of academic literature that makes the point that the atmosphere belongs to everyone on earth, the available carbon space must be apportioned equally, and going by that, India has a lot of its quota left.

All this is true, but it does not solve India’s climate change problem. It is in India’s own interest to get more proactive to combat climate change, even as it has to prepare far more seriously on how to deal with the effects that are now inevitable.

India has had a National Action Plan on Climate Change since 2008, with eight specific missions under it. But there has been relatively little action since then.

These issues have been the subject of debate among policymakers, academics, think tanks and in the media for over 20 years. But much of the debate is affected by one form of bias or the other. So there is an urgent need to have a dedicated outlet for impartial and objective news and views on all aspects of climate change, how it affects India, and what can be done about it.

India Climate Dialogue has been launched by The Third Pole to fulfil this need.

The Third Pole (www.thethirdpole.net) is a news and views website that focuses on the need for sustainable and cooperative development between countries in the Hindu Kush Himalayan region and the basins of rivers flowing down from it. This region is often called the water tower of Asia, because an estimated 1.4 billion people are directly dependent on this mountain range and the rivers that flow down from it for their water needs. Run by China Dialogue Trust (www.chinadialogue.net), The Third Pole works in close partnership with the Earth Journalism Network (www.earthjournalism.net), which is a project of the media development non-profit organization Internews (www.internews.org)

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