ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Greenhouse Gas Mitigation and Carbon Markets in Indian Agriculture

The prospects and implications for continued and possibly rapid extension of the broader effort at greenhouse gas mitigation and the specific effort of carbon markets in India are assessed along four axes: (i) the global experience of mitigation and carbon markets in agriculture in the global North, who are expected to be leaders in such actions; (ii) the theoretical prospects of carbon markets and carbon offsets in agriculture, with special reference to welfare and distributional aspects; (iii) the key initiatives in GHG mitigation and carbon trading related to Indian agriculture; and (iv) considerations of the priority to be assigned to both mitigation and carbon trading in Indian agriculture both in the international and intra-national contexts.

Vaunting Rhetoric versus Grim Realities

While the rhetoric of collective responsibility to achieve “ambitious outcomes” in terms of climate action to address the “climate emergency” stands questioned in the 25th Conference of Parties, the grim realities of the inequalities between countries and the evasion of responsibilities and commitments by the developed countries point towards the fundamental role and continued importance of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change that remains wider in its scope and broader in its vision than the Paris Agreement. The developed countries are also seeking to manipulate the science–policy interface in an attempt to sideline the equity and climate justice-related perspectives of the developing countries.

International Relations Impeding Equity and Global Climate Justice

By drawing heavily from neoclassical economics, game theory, and rational choice theory, mainstream international relations ends up adopting a managerial approach to the issue of climate change, wherein international politics becomes structurally similar to a market economy in which states are rational, self-interested actors. Consequently, cost–benefit calculations rule out the normative moral arguments for an equitable sharing of future carbon space that do not converge with the material interests of states.

Climate Action and theNorth–South Divide

At COP23 in Bonn, notwithstanding the United States’ announcement of its withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, the developed countries remained united in diluting or reneging on their commitments to developing countries, particularly on the issues of finance, and loss and damage. In a concerted pushback, the latter obtained a few important procedural gains, including bringing back to the negotiations the issue of equityin the implementation ofthe agreement.

Utopian Rhetoric on Global Warming

Will the Flower Slip through the Asphalt: Writers Respond to Capitalist Climate Change edited by Vijay Prashad, New Delhi, LeftWord Books, 2017; pp 118, ₹175.

The Paris Agreement

The Paris Agreement has set targets for limiting temperature rise due to global warming which will be virtually impossible (1.5°C) or very difficult (well below 2°C) to realise. It ignores the fact that these targets require a strict limit on global cumulative emissions in the future. Allowing all countries, especially developed ones, to do what they feel able to, rather than what is necessary, sets the world on a dangerous and inequitable path to the future.

Appraising the Debate on Biodiversity Conservation in the Western Ghats

This critical review and comparison of the Gadgil and Kasturirangan panel reports on the Western Ghats highlights various concerns related to their methodology, recommendations, and the manner in which they resolve the contradictions between the imperatives of environmental protection and economic development. It also focuses on basic demographic data on the affected areas in the Western Ghats, statistics on agricultural land use, and occupation data of the affected population in the ecologically sensitive zones, none of which has been considered in the two reports. The paper argues that the constitution of expert panels for the Western Ghats is an attempt to appeal to the principles of scientific certainty for addressing the dual concerns of environment and development. The two reports have an unwitting common ground: while they are alive to environmental concerns, they ignore insights from development theory and practice. The recommendations of both the reports presume that environmental and developmental imperatives can be combined without a political debate.

Holding Back the 'Green Economy' Idea, But for How Long?

The agenda of the developed countries at Rio+20 was to confront the issue of sustainability strictly within the scope of the dominant paradigms on how to manage economies. In the end, the developing countries had some cause for satisfaction at the outcome of Rio+20 since some of their core concerns were included in the fi nal document. However, the global South lacks as yet the knowledge capabilities required to counter the fl ood of Northern scholarship that is now directed towards establishing an architecture of global environmental governance that would preserve the current pattern of global economic dominance and signifi cantly shift the burden of sustainability onto the developing world.


There are major issues at stake in the Rio+20 Summit on Sustainable Development to be held on 20-22 June. Yet governments of developing countries have not given adequate importance to the run-up to the conference. As has happened in the climate change negotiations, the outcome draft now under negotiation shows a concerted move to rewrite the terms of global environmental governance. There is an attempt to push through the decidedly narrow and environmentally defi ned “green economy” and there are moves to dilute the importance of development for poverty eradication. Backed by an arsenal of research on environmental economics, the North is out to set a policy agenda that the South is fi nding it diffi cult to catch up with.

Deconstructing the Climate Blame Game

An accusation that is being made post-Copenhagen is that the major developing countries, China in particular, blocked ambitious emission reduction targets that were offered by the advanced economies. But a dissection of the offers shows that a backloading of cuts and a refusal to specify near-term reductions would retain inequalities in emissions and lead to a further grab by the developed countries of the "carbon space" available to keep global temperature rise under 2 degrees celsius.

Will It Be a US Endgame at Copenhagen?

The US is in Copenhagen with a very strong hand, having succeeded in significantly furthering its basic agenda of refusing to commit itself to a substantial reduction in emissions until the major developing economies are on board. It is also clear that the US remains firmly committed to ensuring that its hegemonic interests are not seriously compromised by the outcome of climate change negotiations. With the climate laggards in tow, and a pliant European Union unwilling to assert its better instincts, there is a serious danger that the US would dominate the endgame at Copenhagen with an outcome that substantially meets its requirements, at the cost of the developing countries. Above all, a US-led outcome would spell an end, at least temporarily, to serious emissions cuts by the developed countries.

Swinging from Inaction to Capitulation on Climate Policy

Manmohan Singh's government appears to be contemplating a 180-degree turn to India's twodecade old position on global and country-wise commitments to combat climate change. The leaked contents of an extraordinary communication from Minister of State for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh indicate that the new thinking is only a thinly veiled proposal to barter India's energy and developmental future for an illusory superpower status that would contribute little to the nation and its people. The focus on the new thinking is on the accommodation of developed nations' interests on climate change rather than finding means to force them to live up to their commitments.


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