Whom do we Blame for Climate Change? A Discussion on India’s Efforts at Carbon-Neutrality

The Discussion Map charts important debates from the pages of E​PW.


How much should India contribute to mitigating climate change?


The Paris Agreement signed by the Conference of Parties (CoP) in 2015 aimed to bring nations together to spearhead efforts to limit the threat of climate change.


To arrive at a low-carbon future, nations put forth voluntary Internally Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) to limit global greenhouse gas (GG) emissions and eventually attain carbon-neutrality. The agreement has been criticised for its silence on the question of historical responsibility in setting the INDCs. Historical responsibility refers to the idea that countries that have contributed a larger amount of GG emissions over time bear greater responsibility in emission reduction.


Writing soon after the agreement, Kirit S Parikh and Jyoti K Parikh, in their 2016 article argue in favour of historical responsibility. They write that India’s INDC is more than is owed, and that the economic costs of the country’s pledge to GG reduction should not be ignored. Further, the authors question the concept of co-benefits, wherein economic growth occurs alongside emission reduction. They contend that India does not have historical responsibility because its share in GG emissions has, hitherto, been negligible .


Navroz K Dubash and Radhika Khosla respond by saying that Parikh and Parikh’s conclusions are based on inconclusive data. In their view, India’s emissions can be purposefully lowered without sacrificing developmental goals. In their reply to Dubash and Khosla, Parikh and Parikh assert that if the Paris Agreement was indeed equitable and just, developed countries would make deeper cuts in their emissions and they would also provide finance to and share technology with developing nations to ensure a carbon-neutral planet.



Click on the icons to read excerpts from the articles.

A few other works that have broadly responded to or are related to this discussion:


1. Scapegoating Climate Change. Sachin Tiwale and Dipti Hingmire. 2016.

2. Paris Agreement on Climate Change. Mukul Sanwal, 2016.

3. Uncertainty in Climate Science. Hans Nicolai Adam, Lyla Mehta, and Shilpi Srivastava, 2018.

4. Problems With the Eco-Sensitive Zone. Neha Pande and A K Sharma, 2015.


Ed: To contribute to a more comprehensive discussion map, please share links to other relevant articles in the comments section or write to us at edit@epw.in with the subject line—“Industrial Development and Ecological Responsibility Discussion.”


[Curated by Kieran Lobo (kie.lobo@gmail.com)]

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