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Delayed Wisdom

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As expected, India has done it. Having held its hand until China put its cards on the table and then playing the same card as China, India has ensured that it cannot be isolated as the climate deal breaker. Now, the Prime Minister can go to Copenhagen, if he chooses to go, without the fear of getting dirty looks from his peers from around the world.

Many might question the wisdom of India holding on to its emission cut numbers so late in the build up to the Copenhagen summit. But it is quite evident that with no hope of a global treaty with legally binding emission cut obligations getting signed at Copenhagen, India has scored some moral points by offering to voluntarily cut the carbon pollution intensity of its gross domestic product by 20-25 per cent by 2020 from the 2005 levels. It has allowed India to hit the ball back in the court of the developed countries that are holding back on their commitments to sharply reduce emissions and help the developing countries with funds and technologies to check emissions, accusing the fast-developing economies with accelerating emissions of not doing their bit to save the environment.

Also, the feet-dragging has allowed India to first see the play of other fast-developing countries and calibrate its emission cut offer. India's offer is by far the most modest among the countries bracketed with it by the developed world.

India's numbers are approximately half that of China and Brazil. India has also not committed to a year of peak pollution unlike South Africa, which has committed to irrevocably lower its pollution 2025 onwards.

(This story was published in Businessworld Issue Dated 14-12-2009)