India blames industrialised nations for deadly floods

Devastating flooding in Chennai reflects climate change caused by developed countries, environment minister says.

Chennai floods, India
India's environment minister blamed the Chennai floods on developed nations' climate change [Arun Sankar K/AP]

The heaviest rains in 100 years that spawned devastating floods in India’s south are the result of greenhouse gas emissions pumped by developed nations into the atmosphere, its environment minister said.

Nearly 300 people have been killed and more than 1,000 injured after the southern city of Chennai and its adjoining areas were flooded when days of torrential rains caused two major rivers to overflow.

“What is happening in Chennai is the result of what has happened for 150 years in the developed world,” Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar told the English-language newspaper The Hindu on Friday. 

“That is what has caused 0.8-degrees-Celsius temperature rise and, therefore, they must now take action more vigorously,” he said.

A study by British charity Oxfam showed the poorest half of the world’s population – 3.5 billion people – is responsible for just 10 percent of carbon emissions, despite being the most threatened by catastrophic storms, droughts and other severe weather shocks linked to climate change.

Developed countries pledged in 2009 to provide $100bn annually by 2020 to help developing nations offset the effects of global warming.
Javadekar will arrive in Paris on Saturday for international climate talks with leaders of 194 countries seeking to hammer out a binding agreement to keep global temperatures from rising above 2 degrees C – a level deemed dangerous by scientists.
Meanwhile, extra troops were deployed to carry out rescue and relief work in southern India after criticism that the government was slow to respond.

 India steps up rescue efforts as floods hit Chennai

On Friday, 18 patients died in a hospital’s intensive care unit after flood-related power cuts turned off life-support systems.

Parts of the coastal city in the state of Tamil Nadu – with a population of nearly 70 million people – remained under water for a fifth day. Many residents have spent days stranded on rooftops since more than 345mm of rain fell over 24 hours on December 1.

Climate scientists say India is among the countries most vulnerable to climate change with the intensification of cyclones, droughts and floods.

An Indian environmental think-tank, the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), has said a lack of drainage channels and natural water reservoirs has made the flooding worse.
Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies