France has proposed a new environmental body that could police, monitor, and hold responsible nations that over-use resources in the name of development and received support of several nations but not the US, China, India, and Russia. European nations, with smaller populations, have expressed support for President Jacques Chirac's idea which he says is the world's "responsibility" to protect the "future of humanity."
Speaking at a conference after the release of a UN report that warned the world of global warming, Chirac singled out the US without calling it by name as still "must be convinced." The UN report called for inter-governmental action on a war footing to stop rapid overheating that is affecting wind and rain patterns.
UN report itself was criticized by many as not having gone far enough to warn the effects of global warming. While scientists have found 1,000 square miles disappear over a month last October in Antarctica, there are anecdotal evidence of disappearing islands in the Sunderbunds due to slow encroaching of the Bay of Bengal. There is little governmental study of rising sea levels or changes in rain and wind patterns in India and if there is research being done, the data is not available for public or research consumption.
With a fast economic growth, India and China along with the US and Russia are major polluters of the world each for different reasons. India uses its low-quality coal for generating energy and lacks the technology and resources to choose an alternate energy generation method. China has a disastrous record of environmental protection ranging from large-scale pollution, deforestation, and lack of emphasis on conservation. China's Foreign Ministry spokesperson Jiang Yu said while Beijing is willing to contribute to curbing greenhouses gases from industry, agriculture and vehicles, it wanted that "climate change has been caused by the long-term historic emissions of developed countries and their high per-capita emissions." China wanted the "Developed countries bear an unshirkable (sic) responsibility" and "lead the way in assuming responsibility for emissions cuts." Russia has large fossil reserves but continues to use outdated technology from the Soviet era to generate energy. India and Russia have voiced a position similar to that of China's, but Beijing but China is the world's second largest greenhouse gasses emitter in 2000 and as it progresses to become the second largest economy by 2008, the quantum will only be larger.
The US has been a steadfast rejecter of environmental protection advocacy often abusing "enjoyment" and freedom of choice enshrined in its Constitution as means to thwart efforts to control consumption and energy usage. The Republican Party of the US is most notorious for its refusal to accept environmental protection on its agenda. Supported by big businesses dealing with energy, automobile, and alcohol and cigarette manufacturers, the part has even commissioned studies that have provided innovative arguments to counter global warming alerts from scientists. US Administration officials have also used the loss of jobs as "unintended consequences" if the US adopted more environmentally friendly measures. Energy secretary Samuel Bodman has refused to adopt mandatory reductions in energy usage citing "concerns" within the government "that the imposition of a carbon cap" will "lead to transfer of jobs and industry" to other countries. Bodman says that not only will the US lose the jobs but the emission controls in the other nations will be worse and affect the environment even more.
This was the argument used by President George Bush to reject the Kyoto Protocol in 2001 that required the 35 industruial nations to cut their global-warming gases by five per cent on average below the 1990 levels by 2012. At that time, Bush said that it cannot adopt this treaty because it would result in the loss of five million jobs. With democrats controlling the Congress and the Senate, about half dozen new bills have been introduced but will certainly get the Presidential veto even if it survives both houses.
For its part, India is cagey about joining a global effort to curb greenhouse gases because it is worried that such measures could seriously affect its economic growth. More than 40 per cent of the nation is under the poverty line and two-thirds of the population are supposed to work in the agriculture sector but are essentially unemployed. Indian policy makers see globalization, industrialization, and increased consumption as means of generating employment for large parts of population and such plans will be compromised if it reduced consumption of fossil fuels and not supplying its industry with energy.
Other than its internal considerations, India is also worried about external compulsions. Firstly, it is worried about being left behind the next wave of development by making an ideological choice. Secondly, it is worried about being crushed economically by an aggressive China. Thirdly, it is worried of environment being used as a stick by developed nations just as they have with other social issues.
As a predominant agricultural state, it is in India' interest to control emission of global warming gases, adopting sustainable development practices, and instituting policies that better manage its environment. Over a long period of time, changing weather patterns increasing desertification and reduced rainfall can hurt more of its population for a longer period of time than a slower growth.