Developing countries’ voices being stifled in climate change debate: India

United Nations, Oct 20 (IANS) As the world prepares for the UN climate change conference in Paris next month, India accused developed nations of stifling the voices of the developing countries.

“The voices and interests of a vast majority of developing countries are being stifled if not ignored,” India’s delegate S.P. Muddahanumegowda told a UN committee dealing with economic and financial matters on Monday. “This does not augur well. The path to climate ambition must be paved with equity.”

“Livelihoods in the developing South cannot be compromised for sake of preserving lifestyles in the North,” he said.

The climate change crisis was the result of “choices that were made by many, mostly developed, countries in their race for unsustainable development – choices that have led to climate change and wrecked the environment,” he said. “The burden of sustainability therefore cannot be placed on the poor.”

“We were not part of the problem, but we have every intention to be part of the solution,” he declared.

Muddahanumegowda, a Congress member of the Lok Sabha representing Hassan in Karnataka, is among five members of parliament from both ruling and opposition parties who are currently in the Indian delegation to the UN.

The UN Framework Conference of Climate Change is set to meet next month in Paris with the goal of adopting a legally binding agreement on limiting carbon emissions. India, like other developing countries, has been under intense pressure from developed countries and non-governmental orgainisations to cut its greenhouse gas emissions even though an Indian produces only about a tenth of an American’s carbon emissions.

When dealing with the goal of sustainable development, the emphasis appears to have been placed on the environment rather than giving importance to development, Muddahanumegowda said. “There is something clearly wrong in the manner in which this agenda item has been framed,” he said giving as an example the document prepared for the committee debate.

“Sustainable development is not merely about minimizing the environmental impacts of development,” he said.

“It is in fact about a holistic concept of development,” he said. “It is first and foremost about eradication of poverty and hunger, without which no development can be sustainable.”

For developing countries to achieve this goal, “rapid economic growth are the primary and overriding objectives”, he said. “These are also indispensable for them to make their development sustainable.”

Muddahanumegowda said that even the most developed economies have found it difficult to grow their economies without also increasing their carbon emissions. And this was “in spite of the immense progress in technology and despite their command of considerable financial resources,” he said.

“This shows the enormity of the challenge faced by developing countries, where resources are meager, demands for even most modest human development more pressing, and availability and deployment of cutting edge technology still low,” he added.

Turning to the upcoming climate change conference, Muddahanumegowda said: “If the world has to achieve a meaningful and lasting agreement at Paris, the developed countries must step up to the plate and fulfill their responsibilities in good faith.”

“If they do so, they will find that developing countries like India are walking in step with them to ensure a sustainable future for the planet,” he added.

(Arul Louis can be reached at arul.l@ians.in)

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