If the Bali roadmap was more a make-believe show than anything real, actions that follow the world over seem to be more rhetoric than anything concrete.
For instance the government of India says it has set up a high-level panel on how to tackle the tricky issue of greenhouse gas emissions, but would not commit itself on how far it would go towards stemming greenhouse gas emissions.
AdvertisementMany greenhouse gases occur naturally, such as water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and ozone. Others such as hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), and sulfur hexafluoride (SF6) result exclusively from human industrial processes. Carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere by the burning of solid waste, wood and wood products, and fossil fuels (oil, natural gas, and coal).
Nitrous oxide emissions occur during various agricultural and industrial processes, and when solid waste or fossil fuels are burned.
Methane is emitted when organic waste decomposes, whether in landfills or in connection with livestock farming.
Methane emissions also occur during the production and transport of fossil fuels.
When sunlight strikes the Earth's surface, some of it is reflected back towards space as infrared radiation (heat). The greenhouse gases mentioned above absorb this infrared radiation, trap the heat in the atmosphere and reemit the waves downward causing the temperature of the earth to go up.
And this is called the "greenhouse effect," because of a similar effect produced by the glass panes of a greenhouse, where plants are grown under controlled conditions.
Emissions of two greenhouse gases, methane and carbon dioxide have reached record high, says World Meteorological Organization, an agency of the United Nations.
India's Science and Technology Kapil Sibal has said the Bali initiative was only the beginning of a process to prepare a roadmap.
Significantly he stresses, "We would give sufficient time to our industries and other stakeholders to become energy efficient. It would not be at the cost of our growth. We have made clear to the world that poverty eradication is our first priority and we will not move away from it," Sibal said.
It is amidst such declarations the announcement of a new panel has been made. A ouncil headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will act as a think-tank to decide on India's future course of action in the short term as well as after 2012 when the Kyoto Protocol expires, it has been stated.
Besides a three-member sub-committee to be headed by Nobel laureate and chairman of the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) R K Pachauri will submit its own report on the issue early next year.
The IPCC has already warned that India, along with developing countries, will face a serious shortage of water and threat to food security, consequent on global warming.
And globally as India has been rated the 4th largest carbon emitter after the United States, Australia and China.
Still it is argued that with a 17 per cent share of the global population, the emissions from India are not high in percentage terms.
Whatever the quibbling, the impact on the ground is very real. Wheat production is already on the decline due to climate change while coastal areas are under threat of being submerged as the glaciers are melting, according to various studies.
Change in the water cycle may also cause an increase in water-borne diseases such as hepatitis, as well as diseases carried by insects such as malaria.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh repeatedly streses that "our per capita emissions will never exceed that of developed countries."
For the moment though India claims that it would aggressively harness wind power -it was one of the five countries of the world that added more than 1,000 MW capacity in 2006-07.
The country has launched a major afforestation programme called 'Green India' and decided to convert six million hectares of degraded forest land into green areas.
It also has the largest number of Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) projects aimed at reducing net emissions of greenhouse gases.
The Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) is an arrangement under the Kyoto Protocol allowing industrialised countries with a greenhouse gas reduction commitment to invest in projects that reduce emissions in developing countries as an alternative to more expensive emission reductions in their own countries.