New Delhi: Ahead of the crucial climate change summit in Paris, a Delhi-based think tank Friday said that the world was following the "unsustainable" American consumption model which was leading to excessive demand for consumer goods and energy.
Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) said if the US did not make serious changes to its "conspicuous consumption", climate change mitigation efforts would not be as successful as the US needed to lead the way, being the highest emitter of harmful greenhouse gases.
"If the US did not make serious changes to its conspicuous consumption, climate change mitigation efforts would not be as successful as the US needed to lead the way, having been the highest emitter in the world," CSE Director General Sunita Narain said.
She was speaking on the final day of the annual media briefing on climate change organised by CSE.
"The world was following the unsustainable American consumption model which was leading to excessive demand for consumer goods and energy," CSE said in a statement.
CSE Deputy Director General Chandra Bhushan said that the per capita annual emission of the US would be 12 tonnes while that of the European Union would be five tonnes in 2030. "People live well in the EU. Americans need to scale down their lifestyles," he said.
Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar had more than once expressed India's commitment to sustainable lifestyle and said while the country needs just one earth to sustain that lifestyle the the developed nations needed five earths to maintain their lifestyle.
The closing session of CSE-organized conference was attended by French Ambassador to India Francois Richier and Zambian Ambassador Sikapale Chinzewe.
Richier said more than 40,000 persons were likely to attend the Conference of Parties (CoP21) at Paris scheduled to take place from November 30 to December 11 and that the French government would offer free visas to journalists.
Bhushan, while presenting the findings from CSE's recent publication “Capitan America: US climate goals – Reckoning”, said that the US was shifting from coal to gas-based electricity production because it had found gas and that it was cheaper to produce electricity from gas in the current context for the US.
"It is the price that is determining the shift in policy, not its environmental thinking. In 2030, only 15 per cent of US energy would come from renewable energy. This is very small and does not show the US is serious about cutting down its emissions," he said.
Bhushan also said the US lifestyle was "lavish" and while an American house was on an average 2200 sq ft, for a German it was 1200 sq ft while the US was one country where use of public transport was declining. "This is alarming," he said.
The session also discussed the gaping inequalities between the developed and developing world and their needs.
The panellists included former secretary of the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy S B Agnihotri, Livestock scientist Assah Ndambi and Thusitha Sugathpala from University of Moratuwa, Sri Lanka. Agnihotri presented electrification maps for "India" and "Bharat" representing urban and rural India.
"There is huge inequality between rural and urban India. If 10 per cent of households in an Indian village have an electricity connection, it is considered to be electrified. Rural India needs more energy. Renewable energy could be an excellent alternative," Agnihotri said.
Another expert said that while there was energy poverty in a part of the world, excessive consumption was the norm in another part of the world.
Other issues which are part of the climate change discussion were taken up in sessions on livestock emissions, methane emission due to rice farming, among others.
Livestock emissions constitute 14.5 per cent of the total greenhouse gas emissions in the world. Switching to a diet which has different proteins can reduce GHG emissions, said livestock scientist Assah Ndambi.
Maricar Alberto from International Rice Research Institute said that one way of reducing methane emission in cultivation of rice was using irrigation methods which used less water.
About 100 journalists from 13 countries of Asia and Africa attended this two-day event here which concluded Friday.