Sweden is likely to achieve its renewable energy targets for 2030 this year. Yikes! That’s like more than a decade earlier than it was supposed to. And, on the other end of the spectrum are Messrs. Donald Trump and Jair Bolsonaro  who believe that climate change is a will-o-wisp of someone’s imagination.

And there’s no way we are going to compare Sweden and India. Sweden’s 2018 population was about 1.01 crores. In 2011, 1.6 crores was the population of Delhi. Sweden’s size (by area) is 4,50,295 km2. India’s size by the same metrics is 3.287 million km². As a whole, India’s population density is 416 persons per square kilometres. Sweden’s is 24. Stockholm (the Swedish capital) has an area of 188 km2, and a population density of 4,800 per sq. km. Mumbai’s area is 603.4 km2, and a population density of 73,000. Sweden is a functioning welfare state where anyone earning over £32,000 pays between 49-60% through a combination of local government and state income tax. India’s taxation policies, while progressive for a capitalist state, doesn’t cross 30% of income  for the highest income levels.

So. We’re not going to compare Sweden’s progress with India. Instead, we’re going to say, loud and clear, that the so-called First World should do more than developing nations like India and China to mitigate climate change, for the moment.

(You heard us, Mr. Trump?)

The reasoning is very simple- so simple, in fact, that it can be depicted in a simple chart:

Image via Centre For Global Development

Developed countries have some of the the highest emission levels in the world. While China leads the pack and India stands third, our emissions are largely caused by attempts to develop. Developed countries? Their emissions are a result of their average lifestyle.  

(Also, our population densities are like… wildly different. The USA’s is 36 per sq. km.)

We emit because of an upward curve; they emit even at flatline level, because the way of life in the developed world is based on decades of fossil fuel-powered technology. It is, simply put, unfair of developed countries to put so much of the onus of fixing the climate crisis on developing countries when it was the development of the Global North that landed us in this mess in the first place!

The First World needs to lead the way in fixing the crisis that has its roots in the Industrial Revolution, was spread by colonialism, and received a massive boost by the consumerism that overtook the West in the first half of the 20th century. After all, Indian industries were a little too busy producing cheap goods for British interests, weren’t they?

The development of the European Union was based on the exploitation of their colonies. By putting pressure to ‘find alternative solutions to fossil fuels’ on African and Asian nations that were rendered ‘backward’ by their depredations is to tell your victim to clean up your mess.

This is not to say that developing nations should ignore the climate crisis. That is out of the question. But to expect governments of these nations to shoulder the burden of the climate crisis on equal terms with developed nations is unjust. The focus should be on equitable, rather than equal, responsibility to find solutions, because honestly, America, you guys emit far more CO2 than is normal for a country with, like, 5 people.

Posted by Malavika

Books, bells, and big dreams.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.