The Politics of Climate Change and the Global Crisis: Mortgaging Our Future
Praful Bidwai
158 x 240 mm
Year of Publishing
Territorial Rights
Orient BlackSwan

Irreversible, catastrophic climate change represents the greatest threat to human kind's survival today. Relentlessly rising greenhouse gas emissions are heating up the atmosphere. Planet Earth is hurtling towards disaster, with rapidly melting ice-caps and glaciers, rising sea levels, rainfall pattern changes, and a breakdown of fragile climate balances.

The earth can cope with maximum global warming of 1.5-2 degree C. But temperatures are set to rise way beyond this-unless greenhouse emissions are drastically reduced by 2020.Yet1 the world has failed to reach agreement on this. Industrialised countries, which are primarily responsible for climate change, balk at cutting their emissions. They continue to occupy climate space at the expense of the developing countries' climate-vulnerable poor people. Equally unfairly, their emissions-reduction pledges are lower than the poor countries’.

The climate crisis thus aggravates the global developmental crisis. It is also intimately linked through the prevalent iniquitous development model to grave economic, social and political crises in evidence globally.

This unique book has a dual focus: impacts of climate change, and the politics of the international climate negotiations; and second, lndia as an example of an 'emerging economy' major polluter, which can potentially both aid or obstruct the fight against climate change. It analyses the role of the new BASIC (Brazil, South Africa, India, China) grouping and the short-term calculations of other major players in the climate talks.

Yet, there are alternatives to this dismal situation, based on equity, resource conservation, curbs on luxury consumption, promotion of renewable energy and new patterns of production and consumption which sustain low-carbon development. What the global effort lacks is candid acknowledgement of the need for a qualitative change in the growth model and the will to bring it about through democratic popular participation.

Written lucidly, The Politics of Climate Change and the Global Crisis: Mortgaging Our Future is mandatory reading for social scientists, environmentalists, civil servants, social activists and environmentally conscious citizens.

Praful Bidwai is a political columnist, a social science researcher, and an activist on issues of human rights, environment, global justice and peace. He currently holds the Durgabai Deshmukh Chair in Social Development, Equity and Human Security as a Visiting Professor at the Council for Social Development, Delhi. Bidwai is a Fellow of the Transnational Institute, Amsterdam.

List of tables, figures and boxes                                                                                                               

At the Edge of the Climate Precipice

1. The Doomsday Clock
Climate Change and the Global Developmental Crisis

2. Himalayan Trouble
Why Climate Change Matters to India and Why India Matters
in Fighting It

3. Through Twists and Turns
The Evolution of India’s Climate Policy and Negotiations Stand

4. Rooted in Incoherence
Anomalies and Contradictions in India’s Climate Policy

5. Too Little, Too Late
A Critique of India’s National Action Plan on Climate Change
and Its ‘Low-Carbon’ Growth Strategies

6. Domestic Imperatives
A Practical Agenda for Low-Carbon Development in India

7. No Heroes, Only Villains … and Too Many Victims

8. Alternative Visions
What Would an Equitable Global Climate Deal Look Like?

9. False Promise
The Bleak Future of Nuclear Power after Fukushima

10. India
Chasing the Nuclear Mirage

11. The Renewables Revolution is Here!
12. Can the Climate Impasse Be Broken?


'Bidwai gives us a sense of what an equitable approach to climate change should look like…. He has the passion of a committed social activist and the intellectual rigour of a serious scholar…  [A] valuable contribution to our understanding of … a complex ... subject.'

Shyam Saran, The Hindu

‘Clearly, a work of love … a marvellous example of intelligent critiquing but it does not stop there; it goes on to suggest possible solutions … highly recommended reading for politicians, citizens, entrepreneurs, researchers and students...’

—Down to Earth

'…a welcome treatise [on] India's climate change policy.... [the global] climate talks, where they are headed and how little really has been done'

—Economic and Political Weekly

‘Bidwai has compiled the most comprehensive analysis of climate change…. His meticulous research is marked by his moral commitment… [to] …equity between, and within, countries.’

Darryl D’Monte, Outlook

‘… [T]his is a superb book. Bidwai brings lucidity, breadth of knowledge and scholarship to a wide range of issues …. [E]ssential reading for a wide audience even beyond those engaged with climate change…’


‘No one seized of the rapid damage to the environment, or the urgency of developing equitable policies and practices to protect increasingly disenfranchised peoples whose livelihoods depend on the earth, its forests and limited water and energy sources, can afford to not read this book.’

—Hindustan Times

‘Bidwai is a rare analyst…  a man of the South, but at the same time… extremely critical of …India’s stance in the negotiations, which he judges to be incoherent,… short-sighted, and … rooted in an unjust model of development… that ultimately serves its elites…’

Greenhouse Development Rights

‘Bidwai, significantly raising the bar of scholar-activism, stylishly explores, putting on the stage, in the background, the main actors in the geopolitics of climate change…. Given his rigorous scholarship, … this is a book that cannot be ignored particularly by those who purport to steer our country.’

—Sanctuary Asia

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