left photo: Mats Lindh; right photo: Nir Nussbaum
Speaking at a conference in Delhi, India's environment minister Jairam Ramesh urged Western nations to leave population out of climate talks, The Guardian reports. Ramesh said, "Influential American think tanks are asking why should we reward profligate reproduction behavior" in the developing world. Then Ramesh really laid out bare the gap between rich and poor nations in the world when it comes to climate change:
For us this is about survival. We need to put electricity into people's homes and do it cleanly.
You in the West need to live with only one car rather than three. For you it's about luxury. For us it is about survival.
Admittedly speaking for a position of comparative luxury, I agree entirely.
Rich Nations Need to Meet Poor in the Middle on Consumption
Per capita carbon emissions in the United States are twenty times higher than those in India and many developing countries. Those of us living in the West have to do with less, full stop. The level of natural resource consumption we consider normal simply cannot be extended equitably to all humanity (or even the majority of it). Our ecological footprint is just way too high.
We need to recognize that we have to meet developing nations in the middle -- raising consumption in poor nations so that poverty is reduced, basic needs met, education and health improved (which can go a long way to reducing population growth) while at the same time reducing consumption in rich nations.
More of Jairam Ramesh's comments: The Guardian
Population Growth, Resource Over-Consumption at Center of 'Looming Catastrophe'
India Won't Commit to Binding Emissions Reductions - Which is Why Rich Countries Must Make Deeper Cuts
The Best Way You Can Go Green: Have Fewer Children