Posted on April 11, 2011. Filed under: International Watch |


A country”s rapid economic development accompanied by their adoption of higher environmental standards can be an effective way to face climatic change, says an energy expert and former top climate negotiator for India.

Although it seemed a route off the usual course for the protection of the environment, Ambassador Chandrashekhar Dasgupta, Distinguished Fellow at The Energy Research Institute (TERI) of India, contends how developed nations coped better with environmental disasters than less developed countries.

The developed countries have higher environment standards with superior sanitation systems, less water and air pollution and this has been possible through the financial resources that came with development, Chandrashekhar said when explaining his stand to participants at a recent forum organised by the Institute of Strategic and International Studies (ISIS).

Developing countries were more vulnerable to the onslaught of weather events linked to climate changes, and unlike the developed countries which were more prepared or have the resources to respond better, these countries were less equipped to face these events, he said in his his talk on “Harnessing Development To Protect The Environment.”

“Traditional farmers in developing countries are most vulnerable to these events and those living in flimsy dwellings sometimes cannot even take seasonal changes,” he said.

He said that the “environment cannot be improved amid poverty, and indeed financial resources are needed for a better environment and this can be attained through rapid development.”

While changes in environment cannot be fully reversed, remedial measures could be taken both by the developed and developing countries, Chandrashekhar, who has been involved in climate negotiations for India for 15 years, said.

The reality is that the environment is continuously evolving, mainly from natural causes, and the view held by the romantics that mankind has basically brought about the climate change calamities lacked basis, he said.

While the contribution of human activities to climate change had accelerated in the recent decades especially with the consumption of hydrocarbon fuels, economic development on the whole has benefited mankind, he opined.

Chandrashekhar also said besides adhering to environment regulations, development projects should consider using the profits from projects to offset any environment damage.

He said companies and governments would have to adopt more green policies in business operations.

While developing countries should adapt and adopt measures that would leave them more equipped to handle challenges of climate change, the developed countries’ focus should be on using their financial resources towards the research and development of renewable energy sources such as solar, as well as nuclear, Chandrashekhar said.

While there was no argument that the climate was changing, questions raised at the end of the talk reflected less consensus on whether more development or less development would be the better way to face climate change.

Nithi Nesadurai, Coordinator of Malaysian Climate Change Group and also President of Environmental Protection Society Malaysia, said taking on a course of rapid development would be following the very footsteps taken by the developed countries of “living beyond the earth”s ability to support their lifestyles”, and leaving serious ecological footprints.

While the poorer countries have a right to development, rapid development would be an ecologically unsuitable economic model to follow, he said.


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