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Why Al Gore and IPCC won Noble Peace Prize?

Written By Gopal Krishna on Friday, October 19, 2007 | 2:49 AM

The Noble Peace Prize for Al Gore and R K Pachauri headed Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is an effort to dilute the strong position taken by India as part of G-77 and China on 17 th April, 2007 in the UN Security Council debate on climate change.

In an interview to The Times of India in April 2002 before Pachauri won the Chairmanship of IPCC from Robert Watson because US has refused to support the latter following his criticism of the Bush administration for its failure to ratify the Kyoto Protocol. Pachauri had promised that he would not do that.

While agreeing that with carbon emissions being at the heart of human economic activity on the planet, it is inescapable that structural change to the global economy, accompanied by cultural changes, is a must for decarbonisation, countries, including China, India, Russia, Venezuela, and Pakistan besides many in the Group of 77 raised doubts over the Security Council's role on this issue, with some suggesting that it was primarily a socio-economic and/or sustainable development issue that should be addressed by UN General Assembly instead.

But the European position articulated by British Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett, the current president of the Security Council disagreed saying, "The Security Council is the forum to discuss issues that threaten the peace and security of the international community. What makes wars start? Fights over water. Changing patterns of rainfall. Fights over food production, land use," she said. "There are few greater potential threats to our economies ... but also to peace and security itself."

Expressing her concern about the poorest populations of the globe, she predicted global economic convulsions on a scale similar to those associated with the great wars and the economic depression of the first half of the 20th century. The fear of the developed countries which have inappropriately linked population with environment and health must be viewed in the backdrop of an expected increase of the world's population to eight billion by 2030. The Noble Peace Prize seems to be a reiteration of the US and European position that looks at climate change is a national security issue.

Take the US, for instance. While unwilling to embrace reductions in carbon emissions, the US government is internally examining the challenges that will result nonetheless. According to the report, National Security and the Threat of Climate Change, by the government-funded national security think tank, the Center for Naval Analyses, global climate change presents a serious national security threat, which could impact Americans at home, impact US military operations, and heighten global tensions. The Military Advisory Board and the study team that has authored the report received briefings from the U.S. and U.K. intelligence community, climate scientists, and business and state leaders. The report recommends, "Military planning should view climate change as a threat to the balance of energy access, water supplies, and a healthy environment, and it should require a response."

Although India has no binding commitment to reduce emissions under the UN Convention yet it perhaps is the only country that has a Ministry of New and Renewable Energy to deal with climate change. It has one of the largest renewable energy programmes in the world. Even if one excludes large hydroelectric projects about 6 % of its grid capacity based on renewables (China's share is less than 1 % and the US share is about 2 %. Its National Auto-fuel Policy mandates cleaner fuels for vehicles. The Energy Conservation Act, outlines initiatives to improve energy efficiency. It could reduce predicted emissions by about 20 per cent. Importing natural gas and encouraging the adoption of clean coal technologies shows how it is making efforts. India has launched a National Mission on Biodiesel. One can agree or disagree with the merit of the steps envisaged by India to deal with climate change but the the effort by the IPCC and others to bracket China and India together is totally uncalled for.

The Noble Peace Prize for appears to be a signal to IPCC to accept the US and Euorpe's perception of climate change as a security threat.
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