India’s waterman says U.S. won in Paris


Publicado Originalmente: 20/12/2015

Magsaysay Award winner and water conservationist Rajendra Singh says the landmark agreement on climate change reached in Paris earlier in December could harm India’s interests. “The Paris agreement is a defeat for India, and it is a sign that our country has let developed countries like America take the upper hand” Mr. Singh told The Hindu on Saturday.

Mr. Singh (56), who is known as the “Waterman of India,” has been awarded the prestigious Stockholm Water Prize for outstanding achievement in water conservation. “I was anguished to read the official statements of the government,” he said. “India’s knowledge system prioritises love and respect for nature. We are leaders in this field, but with the Paris agreement we have given a clear path for commercialisation of nature. This is completely against our tradition.”

The Paris agreement, Mr. Singh feels, absolves the United States of its liability for causing climate change in the first place, and goes against the spirit of the Rio de Janeiro, Copenhagen and Kyoto summits which imposed financial damages on it.

“This means America has won and it means that the world’s environment has been put in danger,” Mr Singh said. “Everyone was looking to the Paris summit to make the U.S. pay damages, but now it has succeeded in bringing itself on the same playing field as developing countries in terms of liability, even though everyone acknowledges that America is the major culprit.”

Mr. Singh was in Paris during the negotiations, and he alleges that much of the process was a discussion on business interests rather than environmental concerns. “COP 21 (Conference of Parties) became a playground for business and economic interests of developed countries, and they forced everyone to accept their terms. They are happy now,” he said. There were close to 40,000 attendees, but the real decision makers made up a “blue zone” of not more than 400. “They called the shots,” he said.

It was because of this, he said, he organised an alternative COP forum along with likeminded activists who decided to talk about “climate and not business,” Mr. Singh said, “We were campaigning for conservation of water and soil, and we demanded that the damages that countries like America have to pay should be invested in the conservation of both.”

He added: “If they were really discussing the environment, they would be discussing water and greenery. Instead they only ended up talking about the sale and purchase of technology and how different consultancies could be engaged to help one another.”

India, Mr. Singh says, was willing to accede to the terms of the agreement because it was looking only at its own narrow self-interest. “The government wants to promote the Make in India programme, and it thinks this is the way forward for our economy. So by signing this agreement India thinks it can tell America: “Look, we absolved you of the blame for the climate change you caused. In return, you should let us use coal to produce electricity.”

Globally, Mr. Singh explained, the production of electricity through coal is considered damaging, with countries pushing for greater clean energy use.

However, he said, India continues to pitch for its right to use coal, saying it needs more energy for its manufacturing sector. “In order to achieve this one thing, you have sold away your traditions and your beliefs.”

FONTE: The Hindu

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