Climate Change: Responding to Resource Scarcity

India and other Asian countries are at relatively greater risk of being affected by the negative effects of climate change; one study estimates that 1.2 billion Asians could be affected. To discuss how best to tackle the issue of climate change, the ACC convened a panel discussion of five expert speakers.

The panel discussion on climate change began with a presentation by David Breashears, mountaineer, photographer and Senior Fellow at the Asia Society’s Center on US-China Relations. Mr. Breashears presented his photographic study of glacial retreat in Himalayas. By taking photographs from the exact locations where George Mallory had taken his, Mr. Breashears was able to vividly show the how the glaciers have retreated due to climate change.

Mr. Shyam Saran, Former Special Envoy on Climate Change to the Prime Minister, spoke on the significance of the financial crisis in impeding negotiations at the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen. He argued that the crisis not only decreased resources available for funding climate change mitigation programs, but that it also made policymakers nervous about decelerating their economic recoveries, making them less likely to agree to carbon reductions. Rajat Gupta, Director at McKinsey and Co., drew parallels between the situation in 2010 and the industrial revolution in terms of the magnitude of productivity growth required to mitigate climate change while fostering growth.

John Negroponte, Vice Chairman of McLarty Associates, is optimistic that the international community will reach an agreement on climate change, but only within the next 5-10 years. This would be a much more comprehensive agreement than what was reached at Copenhagen.

Simon Tay, Chairman of the Singapore Institute of International Affairs, argued that Asia needs a new green agenda, but that there have already been positive steps. China, for example, in 2009 made up its mind to become the world center for clean tech manufacturing.