CLIMATE DISAGREEMENT

“Man is the most insane species. He worships an invisible God and destroys a visible Nature. Unaware that this Nature he’s destroying is this God he’s worshiping”. These words by renowned astrophysicist Hubert Reeves play out as a solemn reminder of the nature of human existence and ever than before, these words, seem to strike a chord with people world over.

We, as a world community, stand on the threshold of a world altering event which is manifesting itself in the most unwanted of ways– climate change.

The phenomenon i.e. Climate Change has many believers but the issue lies with the non-believers, among them is the world’s most powerful person, US President Donald J. Trump. Doing good on his poll promise, President Trump decided to withdraw the US from the Paris Climate Accord. “I promised I would exit or renegotiate any deal which fails to serve America’s interests” the president declared in a televised address from White House Rose Garden.

People  watched anxiously as the world’s biggest polluter decided to withdraw from a one-of-a-kind universal agreement to fight climate change. The justification given by President Trump was filled with wrong information and his personal prejudice towards the issue, to say the least. Adding to that, Trump also accused India of getting a more ‘favorable deal’. “India will be allowed to double its coal production by 2020, think of it,” he said.  Actually, under the current regime India has cancelled plans to build nearly 14 Gigawatts of coal fire power station. This one statement is a testament of how ill informed Trump is.
But, the important question is, should India be worried by this sudden move or are we just overplaying the consequences of America’s withdraw ?

In order to understand the impact of this move, we need to ask several questions: Will Trump administration enact policies that will effectively alter carbon emissions?  Will the withdrawal affect India’s, China’s or Europe’s resolve in battling climate change and moving towards renewable energy? What about the domestic opposition from states like Washington and California that have argued for the U.S. to stay as a party to the agreement?

From a political point of view, Trump’s decision to withdraw from the agreement is not a radical one, rather it coincides with his administration’s previous actions like the announcement to repeal The Clean Power Plan to reduce air pollutants or The national ozone air pollution standard that Trump wants to repeal. In other words, the stance of Trump administration has always been anti-Climate Change and this decision doesn’t come out as a shocker to other world leaders, hence the other major stakeholders have already or are in the process of changing their policies.
On the other side of the spectrum, this uncertainty of Trump’s policies towards clean energy has opened a new avenue for India’s renewable energy sector, making it relatively more attractive.
The long term policies and resolve of PM Modi to excel country’s growth via renewable energy make India’s renewable energy sector seem even more welcoming. Not only that, foreign investment in renewable energy, upwards of $10 billion, both in 2015 and 2016, makes it easier for India to achieve its renewable energy goals in a much more economically viable manner. Last year alone, over a billion dollars worth of green bonds were issued in India. The current scenario provides an excellent opportunity for India to take the center stage and avail the huge investment opportunities that this sector offers.

President Trump’s decision, by all means, to pull the U.S. out of the agreement is a dramatic one. But its is safe to assume that this is a symbolic action and has little substance to it. Whatever may be the case, this will surely open new investment opportunities for India in its clean energy sector.