Talk about Newsnight

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Tuesday, 22 May, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 22 May 07, 06:02 PM

Jeremy Paxman presents Tuesday's programme - read all about it, then leave your comments below...


Andrei Lugovoi should be charged and stand trial in Britain for the murder of Alexander Litvinenko by poisoning, according to the Director of Public Prosecutions.

The Foreign Secretary, Margaret Beckett, has told the Russian Ambassador that she expects Russia's "full co-operation". This seems unlikely. Russia says it cannot agree to the extradition.

So what will this do to the already strained diplomatic relations between the UK and Russia?

Susan Watts, one of the first reporters to link the Polonium trail to Andrei Lugovoi, has been looking at the evidence.

And Mark Urban will be exploring the diplomatic implications.


The head of the judiciary, Lord Phillips, has struck out against the newly created Ministry of Justice, calling it a "serious constitutional problem".

Lord Phillips told the Constitutional Affairs Select Committee that negotiations between the judges and the government to put in constitutional safeguards had not resulted in agreement.

Are the judges now set on an unavoidable collision course with the government? Michael Crick is on the case.


With less than two weeks to go until they were due to be made compulsory for anyone selling a home, the government has announced that Home Information Packs will be delayed until August, and then only phased in.

Why has the government been so slow to react to the problems?


In a temporary reincarnation, Newsnight's one-time Ethical Man, Justin Rowlatt, travels (somewhat unethically by plane) to India - the fourth biggest producer of greenhouse gases on earth.

Can he persuade middle class families enjoying new found wealth there to consider giving up their recently acquired cars and reduce their CO2 emissions?

Should Indians drive cars?

  • Justin Rowlatt -
  • 22 May 07, 05:11 PM

Now that my year of living ethically has come to an end I am free to explore the question that has haunted me throughout the last year.

justin_rickshaw.jpgThe question was raised wherever I went and whatever I did and it went to the very heart of the Ethical Man project.

What people wanted to know was whether my ethical efforts really counted for anything when India and China are building new coal-fired power stations every single week.

That’s why a few weeks ago Sara, the Ethical Man producer, and I boarded a plane to Mumbai. I’m hoping that our decision to fly won’t incur the torrent of criticism that followed my trip to Jamaica last year. The question is whether our report is worth the carbon cost.

What we set out to explore was what Indians made of the whole idea of “ethical living”. We wanted to see if we could create an Indian Ethical Man.

justin_shirt.jpgWithin days of arriving in India I got a pretty good indication of Indian attitudes. I opened the Times of India over breakfast to find that the Indian parliament had scheduled May the 8th for its first ever debate on India’s role in global warming.

That seemed a clear sign that Indian politicians are recognising that there is a problem but any optimism this might have inspired was quelled by a restatement by the country’s environment minister of the Indian government’s official position - global warming is not the responsibility of developing countries like India.

Yet India is a world-class polluter. It has already overtaken Japan to become the fourth biggest producer of greenhouse gases on earth. In 2000 India was responsible for 1.89 billion tonnes of CO2 (5.6 per cent of the world total) – just a few million tonnes behind the Russian Federation - 1.91 billion tonnes (5.7%).

(For more on these figures see the World Resources Institute’s Climate Analysis Indicators Tool CAIT)

Of course India isn’t yet the carbon catastrophe that is the Chinese or American economy. In 2000 China produced a whopping 4.96 billion tonnes of CO2 (14.7 per cent of the world total). But even China’s carbon count was dwarfed by the 6.87 billion tonnes of CO2 America spewed out. That’s a fifth (20.3%) of the world total.

justin_crew.jpgNevertheless Indian emissions show every sign of continuing their rapid growth. India has over a billion people and its population is booming. By 2050 it is expected to have overtaken China to become the most populous nation on earth with 1.6 billion people to China’s 1.4 billion (see Population Reference Bureau).

By comparison to India, Britain’s emissions – 0.66 billion tonnes (1.95% world total) - seem relatively modest.

Indeed, you only need to do some simple maths to see why the growth of the Indian economy could have such a consequence for global warming. Even relatively small increases in the incomes of Indians could lead to huge increases in carbon emissions.

For example, imagine every Indian bought a car or took a return short haul flight or even just used a tumble dryer 90 times a year. That would be enough to increase their carbon footprint by a tonne of CO2 and would add (obviously) a billion tonnes to the national total – almost twice Britain’s current total emissions.

So does that mean that India should curb its population’s carbon consumption?

The Indian Government’s policy of blaming global warming on the West is based on the fact that, over the years, India has emitted significantly less greenhouse gasses than the leading developed countries.

Between 1950 and 2000 India emitted 17.58 billion tonnes of greenhouse gasses. That makes it the 13th biggest polluter over the period with 1.58% of all world emissions. Britain has emitted almost twice that – 29.73 billion tonnes putting it in 8th place with 2.67% of global emissions.

Once again America dominates the table. Between 1950 and 2000 it emitted a staggering 186.70 billion tonnes of carbon – 10 times the emissions of India – 16.77 per cent of world emissions.

But take a look at the emissions per person and you can see why even the Indian branch of Greenpeace argues that the primary responsibility for tackling global warming lies with the West.

Between 1950 and 2000 each American produced 642.0 tonnes of CO2 emissions. Each Briton toted up 499.1 tonnes. Over the same period the average Indian was responsible for just 16.5 tonnes. That is one of the lowest figures for any country on earth - 164th out of 185 countries - and is less than the average American is responsible for in a single year.

That is why – after a week in India – I found it easy to understand the Indian Government’s position. It is also why I found it hard to begrudge Indians – in particular the two families we filmed with - some of the luxuries like cars and holidays abroad we in the West have been enjoying for years.

We are told the world needs to reduce carbon emissions worldwide if we are to avoid catastrophic global warming. If India is going to increase its emissions that means someone somewhere will need to make some carbon cuts.

The question is who.

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