Hope From COP

Despite general frustration with COP 26, there are some milestones achieved, some targets that are worth looking forward to and some hope that future COPs will moving in the right direction. To have expected an exceptionally ambitious plan to address climate change would have been naïve particularly as it would have meant considerable disruption to normal life.

Perhaps the four developments that are worth considering are the commitment to deforestation, the setting up of a fund for developing countries to mitigate climate change, India’s commitment to source half of its energy from non-fossil fuel sources and China offering to work with USA to deal with climate crises.

India is one of the main countries along with China and USA leading the world pollution table. Both China and India are continuing to rely on coal significantly. Both have also signalled to change from coal and other fossil fuels to non-fossil sources. India has a growing population and its middle class base in expanding with needs such as cars, refrigerators, mobile phones and other high tech equipment. It is also developing economically. India has a significant challenge to balance the needs and appetite of its population for energy hungry technology and reduce carbon and methane emissions on the other hand.

Unlike western countries where energy needs have reached near peak point, India’s needs are on the up. Developed countries have to change their energy needs from carbon dependency to non-carbon fuels. India cannot just ditch all fossil sourced energy and invest in non-Carbon energy sources. The expense would mean giving up on development or delaying it significantly.

Hence Prime Minister Modi’s commitment to ensure that half of India’s energy will be sourced from non-Carbon fuel by 2030 is significant. This will be around 500 gigawatts. The sheer scale of this new energy sources will make it cheaper all around for the world. It is quite possible that as this alternative fuel sources become cheaper, India will reach its target much sooner and commit to a greater percentage of non-carbon energy by 2030. Cheaper non carbon energy will encourage other countries, including developed countries to invest in non-fossil sourced energy. Currently it is still expensive. It needs exponential increase in numbers.

India has further committed to reduce its total carbon emissions by 1 Billion tones. This is a significant target. Although PM Modi also said that India will reach net zero by 2070 which disappointed many. There is hope that once the escalation to renewable energy takes place, the 2070 target will be reviewed.

India however refused to agree to the para to phase out coal. India along with Russia and China are still dependent on coal. The para was weakened to read ‘phase down’. Nevertheless it is moving in the right direction.

Similarly the setting up of a larger fund for developing countries to change to non-fossil fuels and a fund for small Islands is a step towards the start of a serious drive to assist countries highly dependent on fossil fuels to transfer to other energy sources and become self-sufficient. The Fund is likely to grow as more countries chip in and current developed countries reach deeper into their pockets.

Small Islands facing extinction with rising oceans and temperatures however came out with a punitive lifeline. A mere 2 million has been pledged to them. It is likely to increase.

As significant is the commitment to deforestation. Deforestation has been a major cause of carbon emissions and climate change. Countries such as Brazil and Russia have significant forests. There are many smaller countries in South America, Africa and South East Asia who have large forests but also need land for farming as well as living space for their population. In a competitive world they try and balance their budgets with developing whatever resources they can. A commitment to stop deforestation with appropriate compensation will encourage many countries to scale down encroaching on forests.

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The hand of friendship by China to work with USA is another welcome development. Both countries have faced significant consequences of the climate change. China has put the United States in a spot to some extent by this offer. Instead of accusing China of damaging the climate, the USA can cooperate to set achievable targets.

Critics say that the agreements fall far short of efforts needed to keep temperature rise to 1.5° C by end of century. Based on the current agreement, the temperature will probably rise by 2.4 leading the world towards disaster. Critics say that the solutions agreed do not rise to the challenge. This may well be, but the agreements in themselves are a step in the right direction.

The world economy has been dependent on fossil fuel for over a century if not more. The corporations in control of production cannot change overnight without significant damage to economy and jobs. However they feel the heat of public opinion and know that they cannot carry on as usual. COP26 has shown that the tide is beginning to change and both developed countries and Transnationals are beginning to give undertakings to be responsive to reduce Carbon and Methane emissions.

If the pressure continues and the damaging consequences of climate change keep on recurring, within a year or two, the atmosphere will change. More dramatic commitments will be made either in COP27 or by COP28. It also gives enough time for countries and the corporate sector to begin restructure their investments, productions, sourcing etc to be compliant with change to reduce temperature rises. Both developed countries and corporations know that the mood of the public has changed and will not tolerate their intransigence.

A subtext of COP26 was that the Britain under the current Prime Minister is not much trusted around the world. UK itself is investing in a new coal mine. It has cut overseas aid thus depriving poorer countries even further of means to cope with climate change. Britain further failed to join an alliance to phase out oil and gas. To many it seemed the United Kingdom was asking others to commit to targets that it wasn’t interested itself to adopt. Not surprisingly, the largest emitters have postponed their commitment to another day. Its politics.

Nevertheless COP26 gives hope. It has shown that unlike the Paris Agreement where grand gestures and ambitions were made, the mood now is to get down to business. The polluters know they cannot ignore public opinion or media cacophony on climate. They know the science is against them and they have no answers to the growing evidence that has been finding its way into headlines. They know that the Paris Agreement is not something they can ignore. If the Paris Agreement set targets, the Glasgow COP26 has started the journey on the path.

Weekly Update: Modi’s Mission 2070; Fuss Over Sikhs For Justice

2070 Only 50 Years Away

Normally a man used to whisking a magic wand at midnight and policy getting implemented within 10 sec past 12, Modiji seems to have done some unique yoga pose to have given a calm, patient and thoughtful five decades notice for the zero emission climate change goal. Ecstatic, Britain’s born again imperialist, Boris, was driven to endless hugs with Modiji as he felt he had achieved one promise in the COP 26 meetings that was worthy of looking forward to.

What can humanity want more than a slow burning ray of hope as it dies with congested overheated lungs, water up to its knees and praying to live up to the momentous year, 2070 when a new yug will dawn. Then the world will change and those still left with a few functioning alveoli can recover without Oxygen cylinders.

Modiji’s promise to deliver by 2070 has been more than a notch in British Prime Minister’s achievement at COP26. Boris committed UK to net zero by 2050. Greta’s school warriors were not happy. Too late they said. Now Modiji has added another two decades making Boris’s promise look, ‘ASAP by tomorrow’.

It is a great relief for Boris. Most middle class school age English Girls like to go on a ‘discover yourself’ extended round India tour. A chink in Greta’s army. So they are not going to say ‘Modi Hai Hai’. Which means Boris wins as he can say I am reaching the goal post faster than ‘my huggy friend Modi’. Meanwhile Modi, ‘Hugs r Us’, knows he doesn’t have to deliver.

Unless Jeff Bezos’s money finds the magic elixir of eternal life, both Boris (57) and Modi (71) will be long gone into another world beyond before 2070. So they won’t even be here to be called out.

Brilliant stroke of strategy by the Indian PM and a quick take on opportunity if ever by Boris, a person never to let one pass by. No doubt Greta was walking the streets with her force at the weekend frustrated.

Panic Over A Paper Tiger

If some of the media coverage of the Khalistan Referendum held in London are to be believed, the National Security Advisors of UK and India are to meet and spend quite some time over something that has the relevance of a meteor in the third galaxy away.

The world of Indian security threats must be near nirvana if Khalistan Referendum is the most pressing issue giving Mr Doval sleepless nights. No wonder the Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) have boasted of being a real danger to the mental state of India’s rulers.

The Indian State, used to throwing people in cells for just using constitutional rights such as free speech or civil rights or judicial judgements, can’t fathom why other countries don’t do the same for India. One Indian media even went as far as, ‘doesn’t Johnson understand that this (not stopping Khalistan Referendum) could affect India – UK relations!’

Apparently the Indian Foreign Secretary used most of his press conference at Glasgow to attack the ‘Khalistan Referendum’.  Allegedly even PM Modi raised this issue with PM Johnson, obviously seeing it as a greater threat to the Globe than climate issues. Climate can wait till 2070, but freedom of expression! How can that be permitted in United Kingdom, especially for Sikhs! Boris must have been lost for words for the first time, standing on SNP ground, Glasgow and being asked by Indian PM to stop an independence campaign. Did PM Modi think of the irony of his demand, if he did indeed make it?

There appears to be a bit of misunderstanding between the two countries on democracy, article 19, freedom of speech and the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights. As many an Indian journalist and news media will say behind closed doors, freedom of speech in India means ‘freedom as tolerated’ by the Government of the day. From Indira to Modi, it has been interpreted as such.

In UK, freedom of speech is, well, anything that a person wants to say regardless of what Government prefers. Sometimes it can lead to litigation by individuals named by an overzealous free speech wallah. But government doesn’t have that luxury. Nor does British police, Army or secret Services oblige Government by incarnating or knocking off a person who campaigns against Boris, the Queen, the State or even House of Lords.

Somewhere during transfer of power in 1947, this aspect of democracy wasn’t hammered home properly. So repeatedly Indian officials and PM’s insist that UK, USA and even UN follow India’s interpretation of freedom of speech. It wants the whole human rights world to accept Indian constitutional concept of any campaign or desire for freedom to be labelled as sedition!

The focus on the Khalistan Referendum, the over reaction by Indian officials in its various embassies is bizarre. It exposes an abnormal neurosis among decision and policy makers at the top of Indian security and ministerial team.

Referendums are held by Governments. UN doesn’t hold referendum unless the Security Council sanctions it and all five veto holding members agree. So what’s the panic all about? Civil society cannot hold ‘referendums’ any more than form ‘Parliaments’. They can hold pretend ones or engage in theatrical versions.

The Indian press has been shrieking that ISI is behind this and some even said that many Pakistanis voted in London in the ‘referendum that isn’t a referendum. Some even accuse China. The hysterical coverage is hilarious.

It will be foolish of Pakistan or China to be financing or helping with this non-referendum referendum. India can easily finance a Baluchistan referendum or even a Tibetan referendum in UK in retaliation if any of these countries consider raising the issue at UN.

But if Modi and Doval think that a paper referendum with no legal or political value is the greatest threat India is facing while being surrounded by hostile countries on all its borders and a Islamic State (ISIS) considering launching a strategy of attacks within India from basis in Afghanistan, one can only think of the last days of the Mughal Empire. The Emperor would not look at real threat from colonialists but concentrated on pointless small ones in his Kingdom.

As for NSA India raising this with NSA UK, it will be better for High Commissioner of India (HCI) I to talk to Priti Patel, Britain’s Home Minister, who, despite being alleged to be a Modi fan, will tell the HCI, that there is nothing she can do. British law interprets freedom of expression as it literally means.

The more India reacts, by labelling SFJ as terrorist and the referendum as a ‘great threat’ on par with border attacks by China, the more Sikh nationalists around the world participate in it. If all it takes to create panic in India is to put a cross on a paper with no teeth in London, why not do it again and again. That’s what many say. It is more than surrealist. If China is financing it, their officials must be having a real laugh.