Justice, Development and India’s Climate Politics: A Postcolonial Political Ecology of the Atmospheric Commons
Joshi, Shangrila, 1981-
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Joshi, Shangrila, 1981-
Global climate negotiations have been at a standstill for over a decade now over the issue of distributing the responsibility of mitigating climate change among countries. During the past few years, countries such as India and China - the so-called emerging economies that were under no obligation to mitigate under the Kyoto Protocol - have increasingly come under pressure to accept limits comparable to those for industrialized countries. These countries, in turn, have strongly resisted these pressures. My dissertation examines India's participation in these ongoing climate negotiations. Based on qualitative interviews with relevant Indian officials, textual analysis and participant observation, I tell the story of why and how this so-called emerging economy has been resisting a cap on its emissions despite being one of the most vulnerable countries to the consequences of climate change. I draw upon the literatures of environmental justice, international relations, postcolonialism and political ecology to develop my dissertation and adopt a self-reflexive approach in my analysis. The need for global cooperation to address global environmental issues has arguably provided greater bargaining power to countries formerly marginalized in the global political economy. Following the dynamics of North-South environmental politics, India's climate politics consists of utilizing this power to increase its access to global resources as well as to hold hegemonic industrialized countries accountable for their historical and continuing exploitation of the environmental commons. A key aspect of India's climate politics consists of self-identification as a developing country. Developed countries with higher cumulative and per capita emissions are seen to have the primary responsibility to mitigate climate change and to provide financial and technological support to developing countries to mitigate and adapt to climate change. Developing countries are seen to have a right to pursue development defined as economic growth. The climate crisis is thus seen by my respondents as an opportunity to address the unequal status quo between developed and developing countries. I suggest that this crisis also creates opportunities to redefine development beyond a narrow focus on economic growth. This may be enabled if the demand for justice in an international context is extended to the domestic sphere.