Published by SAIIA's Economic Diplomacy Programme
India embraced the concept of green growth advocated at the G-20 forum primarily because it did not compromise on its pursuit of prosperity through economic growth. The concept of green growth also lent itself to multiple interpretations, which meant that India could adapt it to national circumstances and priorities, and present it as part of its routine policymaking. However, the discourse has not convinced all constituencies in India that green growth will lead to material and social progress without imposing any costs. In multilateral climate forums, even the Indian government departs from its G-20 stand on green growth and raises questions on the cost to poor nations shouldering the burden of climate change. The two parallel narratives in India reflect the coexistence of different political constituencies with different preferences. At the aggregate level India is a large economic power that wants to be seen as a global player. However, at the individual level India is an impoverished nation that cannot afford the lavish promises it makes as a globa player. In the final analysis, the concept of green growth that promotes bureaucratic and technocratic solutions may prevail, but this will come at the cost of postponing solutions to the long-pending political and social conflicts that underpin environmental conflicts in India.
Author: Lydia Powell