Indian Initiative

I got the paper paper on Friday, for the first time in a long time. Are we going to explain to our grandkids someday how we used to peruse the newspaper for stories we weren’t even looking for? Anyway, so disposed, I came across this article on how India plans to limit its carbon emissions.

The Indian initiative, presented in Parliament by the country’s top environmental official, means that India has now joined the United States, China, Brazil, Indonesia and South Africa in making a domestic emissions pledge before the Copenhagen talks. Like China, its approach is focused on improving energy efficiency rather than accepting mandatory limits on emissions.

India is a critical player in the climate change talks, if one in a complicated position. With 1.2 billion people, it is the world’s second most populous country, having both high rates of poverty and high rates of economic growth. Its population means it has a much lower per-capita emissions rate than that of the industrialized world, yet it has high levels of total emissions. It ranks fifth globally in overall emissions and is projected to rank higher as its economy grows.

Emphasis mine. So what does this mean? Per capita, Indians emit much less CO2 than Americans, though India has higher emissions than America. Who should come into compliance with common standards? We want to limit their countrywide emissions – does that mean they should want to limit our individual emissions? Which are more difficult? How do you establish equitable standards where they won’t have to have higher emissions just to get to our [ostensibly] lowered levels?

Or do we just keep what have and they lower theirs further? Are our emissions more important that theirs? Don’t answer that.