NEW DELHI: During the Glasgow climate summit, while the focus obviously was on the challenge facing humanity and the inadequacy of efforts to tackle it, a sideshow was also unfolding. The UK, the host, found itself in an awkward spot when Turkey protested against the “special treatment” accorded to one “country” — its ire was directed at India.
With Glasgow lacking in wherewithal to host a mega global event of this scale, the UK government has urged delegations to share hotels. Likewise, buses were organised to take the heads of governments to the venue of the conference. Exceptions, however, were made for three countries — the host, the US and India. They were allowed to stay in hotels they had booked exclusively for themselves, while their leaders — Boris Johnson, Joe Biden and Narendra Modi — reached the venue on November 1 in motorcades.
The protocol differential did not go down well, at least with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan who, according to sources here, made his displeasure known. The Turkish leader, who, many observers feel, has meticulously been outfitting himself as the new Caliph, questioned what he considered to be the privileged treatment of India, sources said. Sources said the Turkish leader stayed aloof from the proceedings as a mark of protest, in what can further strain the already tense bilateral equations.
Officials, however, justified the asymmetry by saying that it was an acknowledgment of the efforts India has lately made to shake off “part of the problem” tag in respect of the climate crisis and to transit to among those who are seen as earnestly working for its resolution. It launched the International Solar Alliance — the US chose to join the grouping during the Glasgow conference — in 2015 ahead of the Paris Climate Change Conference, and the Coalition for Disaster Resilience Infrastructure at the United Nations Secretary General’s Climate Action Summit in 2019.
Besides, PM Modi has assiduously projected his initiatives — Swachh Bharat, Ujjwala, Namami Gange — as part of the fight against the threat to climate and environmental degradation. The PM, being a veteran on the global circuit with enough familiarity with the “summit craft”, was of course, also a factor.
In any case, few could have grudged the attention India grabbed after setting the bold target to bring down projected carbon emissions by one billion tonnes by 2030.
The ambitious goal came as a surprise, but, sources said, was absolutely necessary to come out of the unhappy situation where the country was getting tarred as the “third-largest polluter” despite having a measly 4% share of global greenhouse emissions between 1870 and 2019. Though dishonest, it could not have been ignored in view of the potency that climate threat has acquired in the global discourse and which gets reflected in the influence of outfits like the Green Party, celebrity activists as well as the emergence of “green concerns” as a factor in shareholder activism in the West.
But even as he engaged with it, the PM reminded the leading polluters, China and the US, as well as the developed West of their commitment to “common but differentiated responsibilities” or, simply put, the moral obligation of the rich countries to provide “measurable” funds to poor and developing countries for adaptation and mitigation. India, which also took up cudgels for the island countries who are facing existential threat because of the rising ocean levels, is obviously hopeful of getting a fair share of the funds from developed countries and benefiting from the gradual switch to the green era characterised by renewables, electric vehicles, green hydrogen and other technologies which are sure to spell more jobs.




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