Why climate change activists must support the people no matter what

May 20, 2010

by Anandi Sharan Meili

May 20, 2010

A fair global carbon budget regime is not possible without global currency reform – and neither are possible if India continues on the path of economic growth

1. What is the global carbon budget?

In a slide show prepared by IPCC authors Meinshausen and Hare[1] for the Working Group on Long-Term Cooperative Action, several mitigation scenarios for carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels were examined – i.e. tCO2 only, which are responsible for 75% of greenhouse gas emission to the atmosphere. Of several important climate models examined, only one modelled the lowest temperature rise by 2100 of ‘only’ 1.3oC. This (lowest feasible) level implied a 40% probability of global temperatures rising above 1.5oC and a 5% probability of global temperatures rising above 2oC. This was absolutely the best case scenario that could be modelled for the world, and for this to happen, total tCO2 emission from fossil fuels are not allowed to exceed 800 G tCO2 for the period 2000 to 2049, and should be net zero thereafter. By the end of 2010 the world will have used up 629 G tCO2.[2] This means for the period 2011 to 2049 we only have 171 G tCO2 left for the whole world, which assuming we have 7 billion people all through is 24.4 tCO2 per person or 0.64 tCO2 per person per year.

2. Currency reform and equitable allocation of permits

The world economy is worth 69,609,169 million USD at purchasing Power Parity.[3] Assuming there are 7 billion people, the average GDP at PPP per person should be around 10,000 USD. The reason we suggest global currency reform is that absolutely no one will accept the low per capita carbon budget without equity. And equity means equal money. Thus we need a new currency issued by a new global bank on a per capita basis that gives each person 10,000 new UNRupees/USD at PPP. If this were done, the money could be used for investments in ecological conservation of water, agriculture, forests etc. And the carbon budget would be known and would be used prudently for minimal highly efficient coal fired power plants for essential water pumping, ensuring that by 2050 half the country was covered in forest and the emissions from these power plants were being absorbed, thus making the country, and each other country following the same ecological path, a net zero emission country by 2050.

3. India’s national inventory prepared for 2007 assumes 1.728 G tCO2 per year for India, or say 1.57 tCO2 per person.[4] Government of India’s official climate change negotiating position is still that we should be allowed to grow, but first of all in any case 25% of all emissions growth in developing countries is for export and secondly which ever way we look at it, whether the USA and the rest of Annex 1 are doing anything or not, it does not make any sense for India to keep on a path of economic growth, as already we are outside of what the world can bear, and plus economic growth is destroying the society, and allocating blame to other countries does not help.

4. Talk in the high court of Karnataka today is that retiring CJI K.G. Balakrishnan was bribed by the Reddy brothers, which thus explains the about turn of the Supreme Court in allowing mining in Obulapuram mines in the reserve forests bordering Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. This is mentioned in closing to remind us all that we also need a clean government, to manage things prudently, and along with all the other things that need to be cleaned up, the judiciary needs to be cleaned up too.

5. We thus know from the climate change perspective also that the people’s struggles against oligopolies and land grabbing and for democracy are of desperate importance to us all.

[1] http://unfccc.int/files/kyoto_protocol/application/pdf/low_mitigation_scenarios_since_the_ar4.pdf

[2] http://cdiac.ornl.gov/trends/emis/tre_tp20.html

[3] http://siteresources.worldbank.org/DATASTATISTICS/Resources/GDP_PPP.pdf

[4] http://moef.nic.in/downloads/public-information/Report_INCCA.pdf