This week marks the start of the 21st Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, or COP21. The conference, held in Paris, will convene policy makers from around the globe to discuss how to curb greenhouse gas emissions. Most parties will be pushing for an agreement; however, different nations will have a variety of opinions on the exact details of a possible accord.
India and China are two of the most important players at the COP21 talks. They represent the largest developing, or newly industrialized, economies, and are crucial to the success of any agreement on greenhouse gas emissions. Both countries have rising GDPs and standards of living and are responsible for massive amounts of greenhouse gas emissions.
China has unveiled a climate pledge in the buildup to the talks. However, this does not guarantee that its policy makers will see eye-to-eye with Western governments. U.S. President Barack Obama is set to meet with the leaders of India and China during the COP21. Judging by Obama’s recent firm stance on climate change, it is likely that he will try to put pressure on the leaders of both nations to confront the issue at the accord. This diplomatic focus could be key to the overall outcome of the talks.
But the conflict remains. India and China are unwilling to sacrifice their people’s prosperity for the (as they see it) mistakes of the West. Bringing them into the fold on an aggressive greenhouse gas mitigation accord will be as challenging as it is crucial.