India just a blip in Democratic presidential debate

Washington, Oct 14 (IANS) India figured just once in the two-and-a-half-hour long Democratic presidential primary debate – and that too negatively – when long-shot candidate Jim Webb said the US must have “highest polluting countries” like China and India on board in a climate deal.

As the first televised Democratic debate hosted by CNN in Las Vegas Tuesday turned to the climate-change question, the former Virginia senator said unilateral action by the US wouldn’t mean as much when many of the highest polluting nations in the world are China and India.

Frontrunner Hillary Clinton jumped on his comments, saying she was part of the White House’s effort to force China to make concessions on climate change. She said more should be done, though, at the upcoming Paris conference on climate change.

Her closest rival Bernie Sanders said he agreed with Pope Francis, who called it a “moral issue.”

Former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley said he wants to launch a clean energy revolution that eliminates US dependence on fossil fuels.

“We are not going to solve climate change simply with the laws here,” he said, calling for a more international system.

The influential Washington Post, meanwhile, joined issue with what it called “Webb’s grandstanding over India and China as the ‘world’s worst polluters,’ home to some of the world’s most smoke-clad cities.”

“It’s simply not fair to pin the blame on these countries, given the size of their populations,” wrote columnist Ishaan Tharoor.

“Of course, India and China are faced with huge questions over how to manage and grow their economies in a sustainable fashion,” he wrote.

“They don’t have the luxury of industrialising in the wanton way that the West did a century ago. And, yes, China is in terms of raw numbers now the world’s biggest carbon emitter,” Tharoor wrote.

“But officials in both countries have an easy riposte for Western politicians on climate change: the onus for reform is still on you,” he added.

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