The world is sitting on the brink on catastrophe. Neither America nor China is keen to safeguard the world through its roadmap of the Green World Order
-Dr Manoj Sinha & Dr Satish Kumar
There has been much talk of the shifting of power from West to East. The rise of China, along with India and Japan, was flared up that the 21st Century is destined to be an Asian century. But there are many disruptions. Will China become a superpower in the same status as Britain and America controlled the International system? One of the thinkers of world politics, Richard Haass explained that a superpower needs to have besides economic and military powers an ability to intervene politically in any part of the world and prove its unparalleled strength. Another qualification is to use nuclear weapons and its reach out across the globe. China flatly fails on both the parameters as a superpower. The second disruptions against the rising China theory are that more than two powers are emerging on the landscape of the International System. The concept of Middle Powers like India, Germany, Japan, South Africa, and few more are inching up to shape the world system together. Chinese aggressions in many parts of Asia are showing her utter desperations to become the unparalleled power in the region. Chinese led world order does not look taking a concrete shape.
The NITI Aayog has warned that the demand for drinking water will outstrip supply by 2030 if preventive steps are not taken. Nearly 600 million Indians suffer from high to extreme water stress. About 2,00,000 deaths occur every year due to the lack of access to safe water. Experts predict that 21 cities will run out of groundwater by the end this year
If there is a world order which could be developed beyond the conventional theory of the world system, is the Green World Order. A world order which creates a pitch for non-fossil free energy system and helps develop where the catastrophic situations could be controlled. That looks more promising. The economic and military might may not work as it has been shaping the system. The world is sitting on the brink on catastrophe. Neither America nor China is keen to safeguard the world through its roadmap of the Green World Order.
We have heard of a Panchtantra story, in the extreme exigencies of the flood, a tree becomes a shelter for tiger, human being, a serpent and peacock. None of them harms each other; they hang on calmly and mutually. The reason is an apprehension of existence lurks on each of head. The disruptions in climate has pushed the different countries in the same conditions to shelter on the same tree. The Corona pandemic is a harsh reminder of undergoing change. The CO-2 is not merely an emission problem but a stock problem. The beginning of Industrial revolutions in the early Nineteenth Century in Europe along with the political ideology of an unchallenged charter of Individualism created a world order which was based on more consumption better development and highly racial and with geographical superiority. One after another geo-political theorist from Henry Mackinder to TH Mahan, Heartland theory to Rim Land were postulated to justify the western interventions and to shape the world system with keeping the western interests focused. This is how two hundred years of history of the world is with us, which has created a threat of existence not merely for Asian and Africans but for European and American as well. Now the larger question is which country can shelter like a tree in flood. America is the odd man out. It has been the biggest disrupter of the Green World and that’s why it did not sign the Kyoto Protocol and withdrew from Paris Climate change. China is developing a huge infrastructure of green energy, especially wind and solar. China produced almost 170 GW of solar energy in 2018 when India was struggling in double-digit. The fleet of buses and trucks are running on solar. But China has a dubious character. Dragon wants to keep its house clean but litters with fossil fuels in other parts of the world. It is moving with huge coal plants through its signature campaign of ‘One Belt Road’ system.
The Chinese system does not think magnanimously to safeguard the planet through its inclusive approach. The COVID-19 pandemic has completely eclipsed the Chinese credentials in the international system. The way China manipulated and tempered WHO, which led to a cyclical expansion of pandemic in the globe, its Green and Humanitarian face has been unmasked. Rest of the countries are not as big as to shape the Green World Order. The only country which shines out in the crisis is, India. It will have the largest world population of the world by 2024. It has tested democratic credentials and strong constitutional framework. The ancient Indian wisdom is based on ‘Vashudhav Kutumbkam’ which encapsulates each country in its fold. India has displayed its commitment for the resolutions of Paris Commitment. The eight folds jump in solar energy in the last six years proved a point. India is going to generate more than 450 GW of energy through renewable sources by 2030. The Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was awarded as the ‘Champion of Earth’ by the UN Secretary-General in 2018. He started to lead the International Solar Alliance. India has made important progress towards meetings the United Nations Sustainable Developmental Goals, notably Goal-7 on delivering energy access. India’s per capita emissions today are 1.6 tonnes of CO2, well below the global average of 4.4 tonnes.
Why there is need of Green World Order?
So far, world politics was driven by the greed of oil and gas. Churchill after the end of the First World War ventured to use imported oil in place of coal for British fleets since then the oil became the driving force of world politics. Geo-Politics of Oil embargos are common; it was displayed many times. Oil and gas have not only been used as ‘Sticks to hurt or deter foes but also as ‘carrots’ to reward allies and ensure their allegiance. Venezuela Petrocaribe scheme granted massive discounts on crude and oil product deliveries to small Caribbean states to counter US influence in the region. The alliance between the US and Saudi Arabia is a prime example of a strategic relationship in which oil plays a key role. This alliance dates back to 1945 when King Abdul Aziz Aban Saud and US president Franklin Roosevelt came to an understanding that the US would provide military assistance in exchange for access to Saudi oil.
A report by the Ministry of Earth Sciences predicts that the average temperature in India by the end of this Century will rise by about 4.4 Celsius. The average rise during 1901-2018 was 0.7 degree Celsius. The Sea surface temperature in the Indian Ocean during the 1951-2015 periods was one degree Celsius which was more than the global average
The consistent reminder of the Climate conference of the UN to switch over from fossil fuels to renewable sources of energy, the 25th meeting which took place in Madrid, reminded the bigger economies. But things are not moving. American president Trump, meeting with COs of the companies during the pandemic assuring them of carbon led economic development in future. The impact of the fossil-fuel economy is visible.
Southeast Asia and South Asia potentially will face more severe consequences of climate change than other parts of the world. Asia as a region faces hazards including flooding, droughts, severe typhoons as well as conditions of rising heat and humidity. India is facing the worst water crisis in history. Nearly half of the population is struggling with drought-like conditions. The NITI Aayog has warned that the demand for drinking water will outstrip supply by 2030 if preventive steps are not taken. Nearly 600 million Indians suffer from high to extreme water stress. About 2,00,000 deaths occur every year due to the lack of access to safe water. Experts predict that 21 cities will run out of groundwater by the end this year.
A report by the Ministry of Earth Sciences presents a very grim picture of the nature of climate change and its impact on the country in the coming decades. The report predicts that the average temperature in India by the end of this Century will rise by about 4.4 Celsius. The average rise during 1901-2018 was 0.7 degree Celsius. The Sea surface temperature in the Indian Ocean during the 1951-2015 periods was one degree Celsius which was more than the global average. The report further explains that there will be a decrease in monsoon rainfall and an increase in temperature, which will raise sea levels and course more severe droughts and cyclone. There will be many other extreme weather events. At least 207 natural disasters were recorded globally in the first six months of 2020. Cyclone Amphan, the strongest on record in the Bay of Bengal is the world’s costliest damage so far, $15 billion economic loss estimated. The cyclone had spoiled the Gulf of Bengal, India and Bangladesh.
Why can China not become a Global Green World Power?
The climate Action Tracker gives China a very poor grade. It continued reliance on coal. China is still failing at stopping the building of the new coal-fired plants. China is financing coal-fired power plants outside of the country, so increasing emissions elsewhere. Climate Action tracker lists India is the 20 nations whose actions are compatible with keeping global warming under 2 degree Celsius. China remains the world’s largest producer of carbon emissions. It is a plan to finance and build roads, railways, bridges, ports, and industrial parks abroad, beginning with China’s neighbours in Central, South, and Southeast Asia and eventually reaching Western Europe and across the Pacific to Latin America. While China has imposed a cap on coal consumption at home, its coal and energy companies are on a building spree overseas. Chinese companies are involved in at least 240 coal projects in 25 of the Belt and Road countries, including in Bangladesh, Pakistan, Serbia, Kenya, Ghana, Malawi, and Zimbabwe. It had a particular eye on the coal resources of South Asia, Southeast Asia, Central and Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and the Russian Far East. Secondly, the Chinese political system is not transparent. Its next move is unpredictable. Third, China is very keen to settle the historical scores after becoming the largest economy. Therefore, its intentions are based on self-interests which would generate more conflicts in the International System.
How India can become a Global World Leader
The Indian government says that India will meet two major pledges under the Paris Agreement on Climate change ahead of schedule. India has promised to ensure that 40 per cent of its electricity generation capacity comes from non-fossil fuel sources by 2030. It will also reduce its emission intensity. India has increased its Solar-energy capacity for more than twelvefold since 2014. Indian stands are not contradictory. It says what it does. Democratic credentials are well respected. This government has prepared a blueprint of Green World Order. The share of electricity will largely come from renewable sources. The second most fossil fuel sector, which consumes oil and gas is the transportation sector. The government is planning to diversify the heavy public transport to battery led three-wheelers and two-wheelers. The large number of batteries driven vehicles could be seen from megacities to the small town of India. According to PM Modi, it is secured, sure and pure. India has earmarked 450 GW of renewable energy by 2030 and also provides 17 lakh solar pumps to farmers under Pradhanmantri Kusum Yojana.
Inequality and climate change are parts of the same coin. Therefore, climate change is also related to lifestyle. A western economist, Thorstein Veblen who coined the terms’ conspicuous consumption and Invidious Comparisons’ pointed out how individual use luxury goods to show off their status. The US top ten per cent emits six times more than 50 per cent off bottom-up at households. Adam Smith, the father of economics, explained in his path-breaking book ‘the Wealth of Nations’ it is the industry which is going to make the country rich. Adam Smith opposed any government intervention in industry and commerce. The neo-liberal like Hayek through his book ‘The Road to Serfdom’ further accentuated the individual actions. But ancient Indian wisdom is opposite to the views of Adam Smith. Gandhi once said that India could not afford to follow the British economic policy of greed. If two-thirds of the planet failed to satisfy the greed’s of Britain, India had four times the population of Britain, so it would need four planets like earth to fulfil the greed. Unfortunately, Independent India became a copy cat of the western pattern of development.
The energy issue is not merely related to fossil fuels but also with the pattern of lifestyle. The ancient wisdom of India is based on “god give me so much that I should not go hungry, nor my guest sleeps without food’. But the last two centuries of western evolutions of modern economics changed the dynamics of development. India blindly followed the same set of the system. That is how fossil fuels heavily drive Indian growth
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar has also said that Climate Change is not merely a fuel issue, but it has a larger context. Unsustainable consumption is the fundamental cause of pollution and ecological destruction. Since the industrial revolution in the 1850s, our energy use has increased 25 times to feed our consumption; land under cultivation has expanded three-fold, in this process world has destroyed 30 per cent of tropical forests and wiped out 60 per cent of mammals, fish and reptiles.
The climate crisis is a product of greed. The energy issue is not merely related to fossil fuels but also with the pattern of lifestyle. The ancient wisdom of India is based on “god give me so much that I should not go hungry, nor my guest sleeps without food’. But the last two centuries of western evolutions of modern economics changed the dynamics of development. India blindly followed the same set of the system. That is how fossil fuels heavily drive Indian growth. India’s energy system is largely based on the use of coal for power generation, oil for transport and industry and biomass for heating and cooking. Industry consumes almost 56 per cent of mix energy which constitutes of coal, oil, natural gas, electricity and biofuels. The residential sector is the 2nd largest energy consumer at 29 per cent, and transport is the third largest sector consuming almost 17 per cent of energy. But India has a strong base of green energy. Each of Indian festivals is directly related to nature. Recently PM Modi mentioned about Onam. India has to revive its old wisdom to shape the mindset of its populace and accordingly, the patterns of the world. The containment of greed could reduce the churning of half of the industries of the world. Once it is achieved, half of the green world is created. The rest will follow through renewable sources. It looks promising that by 2030 India can display to the world of a Green World Order.
(Dr Manoj Sinha is Principal, Aryabhatta College, Delhi University and Dr Satish Kumar is Associate Professor MMH College, Meerut)