A policy paper published today in Science predicts that neighbours China and India will play a dominant role in “shaping the environmental outcomes for our planet in the 21st century.” According to the authors — two from India — natural resource consumption in the two countries will be a major factor in deciding which way the environmental, social, and economic outcomes will swing in future. They propose that much more earnest cooperation between the world’s two most populous countries will be vital for mitigating biodiversity loss, global warming, and deforestation.
The World Bank estimates that the countries will grow at a pace of 8 to 9% over the next few years. In fact, despite the recession year (2009 ), the Asian giants achieved high Gross Domestic Product growth (China, 8.4%; India, 6.2%; world, –2.2%). Their growth boosters were natural capital as also imports of raw materials, particularly from southeast Asia.
The Indian authors Kamaljeet Bawa and P. S. Ramakrishnan along with six co-authors highlight issues such as groundwater shortages, changes in hydrology in the Himalayan region, accelerated energy consumption, loss of biodiversity, increased pollution, and climate change. In short, a scary scenario for the future of this planet hinging on how these two growing economies manage there resources.
They also coax India and China to learn from one another — “For instance, India’s energy efficiency is higher than China’s. However, China has much to offer to India in poverty reduction, health care, and large conservation programs, including the Natural Forest Conservation Program and the Grain-to-Green Program.”
This indeed is fodder for policy makers of both countries.