India's Environmental Issues

Will the COP26 talks in Glasgow really help India?

Below are two articles from Asia Sentinel's contributors who shared their thoughts on the fate of India's environment in relation with the recent UN-sponsored conference on climate change in Glasgow:

Modi praised for climate reforms then upset Glasgow Pact

Suggestions that China conned India into negative stance

By: John Elliott

With hindsight, no one should have been surprised when India unexpectedly insisted at the end of the COP26 negotiations last weekend that the Glasgow Climate Pact should only call for coal power to be “phased down,” not “phased out,” thus upsetting a text that the organizers innocently assumed was agreed with universal support from nearly 200 countries.

Coal is so central to India’s economic, social and political life that realistically it was unthinkable for it to have agreed to phase it out. It is currently offering 40 new mines to private sector companies – on forest land that will be destroyed – and is increasing imports.

Not only does coal fuel 70 percent of India’s power generation and employ millions of people, directly and indirectly, but it also enriches the frequently graft-based political-business nexus. Top private sector companies such as the Adani group, which is close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, operate as major importers as well as having a growing role in the country’s vast and environmentally damaging opencast mines...

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Trouble in the Air in Delhi

Disastrous pollution continues as governments, politicians dither

By: Neeta Lal

Even as environmentalists and scientists warned governments at the UN-sponsored conference on climate change in Glasgow last week to urgently whittle down greenhouse gas emissions to avoid "catastrophic global warming,” India, the world's fourth biggest emitter of carbon dioxide, is still deriving more than half of the country's electricity from coal.

It is paying for that with air quality that has put 22 Indian cities among the world’s 30 most polluted, with Delhi ranked the most contaminated capital globally. On the day after the Diwali holiday, ironically called the ‘Festival of Lights,” the air quality index registered above 600 in Delhi on a scale in which anything over 100 is considered hazardous by the World Health Organization. The British medical journal The Lancet projected that 1.67 million deaths were attributable to air pollution in India in 2019, including almost 17,500 in the capital.

While Indian Prime Minister Modi was hobnobbing with global leaders at the UN-sponsored COP summit in Glasgow, the Supreme Court was lambasting the Delhi government – helmed by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal of Aam Admi Party – for its criminal neglect of air pollution that it said has reached a crisis level. "We have been forced to wear masks at home also, the situation is very serious," said Chief Justice of India N V Ramana...

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