Describing the US as the biggest contributor of unsustainability, Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh today regretted that India and China were "hell-bent" on following the American model of development.
Ramesh, the former Environment Minister who is currently on UN Secretary General`s panel of Global Sustainability, voiced his "frustration" with the committee as he apprehended that its report to be submitted in January next could be ignored by the US.
"The real drivers of unsustainability are in advanced countries and the big elephant moving in that room is the US.
It does not want to even engage in the debate over sustainability," he said here while releasing UN Development Programme`s Human Deveopment Index report 2011.
Referring to the Global Sustainability Committee, Ramesh said member countries to it are going to support their final report to the UN Secretary General on January 12, 2012.
"So we come out with a beautiful report on the 12th of January, which can be completely ignored by the US. It is really a pity because the US does more to contribute to unsustainability than any other single country in the world," he said.
He went on the add, "if the US had been the only country in the world doing this, it was manageable. But the US has such a powerful impact across the world that countries like
China and India are hell-bent on following the American model. That is what is driving now increasingly unsustainability."
The Minister said it was "not just inequality between nations but also inequalities within nations that are very important."
Underlining the importance of environmental issues, Ramesh took a dig at those advocating that such concerns should be postponed to enable the country to have high economic growth rate.
"We can afford to put off environmental issues. Some argue that let us have 10 percent growth for next 30 years and then we will worry about environment after that. I think that luxury is not available to us," the minister said.
Cautioning against treating environmentalism as something confined to the elite and the rich, he said environmental degradation hurts the poor much more than it hurts the rich.
"Issues of land degradation, water management and land degradation affect the poor, the farmer more than the rich.
Environmental issues are not just elite pass time. They are fundamental to safeguarding and securing livelihood of the most deprived and marginalised," he emphasised.
Noting that the drivers of environmental degradation are predominantly from the transportation and energy sectors, he said countries have by now clearly analysed the problem to its limit.
"Now to expect countries to make paradigm shifts in their economic growth projectory is quite unrealistic.... I do not think any country in the world including India is prepared to make the type of choices that are required in industry, in energy, in transportation which will need to more sustainable patterns of consumption," he said.
Stressing that lifestyle cannot be delinked from livelihood, he said just as lifestyle is threatening livelihoods in the US, so is the case in India.