India’s Environmental Strategy in the Global Climate Negotiations

Published date01 January 2014
AuthorMintu Barua
Date01 January 2014
Subject MatterArticles
India’s Environmental
Strategy in the Global
Climate Negotiations
Mintu Barua1
Politicization of environment is a unique feature of international politics in the
twenty-first century. In the game of environmental politics, rising powers, like
India, are playing a very decisive role as they are indispensable factors in achieving
a solution of climate crisis. Since the beginning of global environmental politics
(GEP), India has been a game changer, sometimes regarded as a deal breaker. India’s
environmental negotiation strategies are based on equity, which often successfully
derail the global environmental negotiations. From 2006 onwards, at the domestic
level, a series of environmental policies were adopted by the Indian government
that reflected optimism about resolving the crisis of environment. The policies were
mainly focused on energy efficiency. Also, contrary to its long-standing position, in
2009, India voluntarily committed to reduce its carbon emission, which was revised
in the form of Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC) in Paris
Agreement in 2015. However, the changes in Indian environmental policies, both
at the domestic and international levels, are not sudden, but they are deeply linked
with the concerns of India’s energy security. India’s declaration of sunshine alliance
at the Paris climate conference is nothing but a giant leap towards transforming
India from an energy-dependent country to energy-independent country.
Climate change, emission, energy, environmental politics, global, India
The twenty-first century will not be an American century, nor will it be an Asian
century because it will be a century which will determine whether human beings
will survive or not in future. Indeed, in the history of human civilization, the
International Studies
51(1–4) 195–211
2017 Jawaharlal Nehru University
SAGE Publications
DOI: 10.1177/0020881717719352
1 Research Associate of National Research Professor, University of Calcutta, Kolkata, India.
Corresponding author:
Mintu Barua, Research Associate of National Research Professor, University of Calcutta, Kolkata, India.
196 International Studies 51(1–4)
human race has never faced such a deadly challenge, that is, the challenge of
climate change, which, if not properly confronted, may extinguish the entire
human race. At the present moment of climate crisis, instead of working together,
the leaders of the developed and developing countries are blaming one another
for the crisis. Massive politicization of environmental affairs can be witnessed in
the various environmental summits, for example, the Copenhagen conference,
the Cancun conference, etc. Environment has become one of the major issues in
international politics of the twenty-first century, and politicization of environ-
ment has turned into a unique feature of international politics in the twenty-first
century. Never before, environment was so important in international politics, as
it is today. Therefore, it is essential to examine how environment came so much
into the arena of mainstream international politics that it began to attract the
attention of scholars.
What is Global Environmental Politics?
Before any discussion of the emergence of global environmental politics (GEP),
it is important to answer the question of what is GEP, which covers a very large
area from climatology to public policy. It is certainly very difficult to depict this
vast multidisciplinary phenomenon in a single sentence by way of providing a
so-called definition. Therefore, to understand the inherent complexities of the
subject, it is permissible to give an explanatory definition of GEP. It is the politics
of environment on a global scale, in which politics is practiced in different places
on different issues to alter or protect the environment (Harris, 2014). GEP is an
area of both practice and academic research, and it deals with the influence of
scholars, diplomats, diverse government agencies, social activists and other actors
on the global environment (Harris, 2014).
It may not be unfair to suggest briefly that GEP reflects how governments
across the world formulate their policies related to environment, and interact with
other nations and various international and non-governmental organizations to
cope with an immense variety of problems, for example, climate change, floods,
droughts and water sharing.
Emergence of Global Environmental
Politics as a Discipline
GEP has emerged as a field of interdisciplinary studies, comprising international
relations, comparative politics, geography, economics, history, law, climatology
and biology (Cass, 2014). Since it is a subject related to global ecological change,
GEP covers a wide range of subjects, that is, geography, environmental studies,
economics, sociology, law, history, philosophy, development studies, biology and
human ecology (Dauvergne, 2005).

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