The world cannot afford to follow the American consumption model, says CSE on the final day of its Annual Media Briefing on Climate Change

  • American consumption is not the model to follow, says CSE at Annual Media Briefing on Climate Change

  • About 100 journalists from 13 countries of Asia and Africa are attending this two-day event in New Delhi

  • Renewable energy, livestock emissions, energy needs of developing countries discussed

  • In 2030, only 15 per cent of US’s electricity will come from renewable sources

New Delhi, November 6: The world was following the unsustainable American consumption model which was leading to excessive demand for consumer goods and energy, said Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) on the final day of the Annual Media Briefing on Climate Change. The closing session was attended by the French AmbassadorFrancois Richierand Zambian Ambassador Sikapale Chinzewe. Richier said more than 40,000 persons were likely to attend the CoP at Paris and that the French government would offer free visas to journalists.

Speaking in a session to discuss American consumption trends, CSE Director General Sunita Narain said that if the US did not make serious changes to its “conspicuous consumption”, climate change mitigation efforts would not be as successful as US needed to lead the way, having been the highest emitter in the world.

Earlier, CSE Deputy Director General Chandra Bhushan said that the per capita annual emission of the United States would be 12tonnes while that of the European Union would be five tonnes in 2030. “People live well in the EU. Americans need to scale down their lifestyles,” he said.

Capitan America 

Bhushan presented findings from CSE’s recent publication: Capitan America – US climate goals – A Reckoning and said that the US was shifting from coal to gas-based electricity production because it had found gas and that it was cheaper to produce electricity from gas in the current context for the US. “It is the price that is determining the shift in policy, not its environmental thinking,” he said. He said in 2030, only 15 per cent of US energy would come from renewable energy. “This is very small, and does not show the US is serious about cutting down its emissions,” he said. 

Bhushan also said US lifestyle was lavish, and while an American house was on an average 2200 sq ft, for a German it was 1200 sq ft. US was one country in the world where use of public transport was declining. “This is alarming,” he said.


Gaping inequalities between the developed and the developing world and its development needs were discussed on the in the several content-based sessions that covered thematic issues as well as geographies – including Africa and South Asia. The panellists on Friday included former secretary of the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, SB Agnihotri;Livestock scientist Assah Ndambi;Thusitha Sugathpala from University of Moratuwa, Sri Lanka; and other specialists. 

Renewable energy

In the session on renewable energy, Agnihotri presented electrification maps for “India” and “Bharat” – representing urban and rural India. “There is huge Inequality between rural and urban India. If 10 per cent of households in an Indian village have an electrical connection, it is considered to be electrified. Rural India needs more energy. Renewable energy could be an excellent alternative,” he said. 

Kumarakandath said while there was energy poverty in a part of the world, excessive consumption was the norm in another part of the world. Comparing 13,000 units of electricity a US citizen consumes in a year, 52 units consumed by an Ethiopian, she said the large energy deficit can be addressed by renewable energy. However, the initial capital investment for renewable energy was high, she said. 

She said a global partnershipas part of the GREEAT programme was aimed at bringing about collaboration between countries, including developing and developed ones. “Rich countries can immediately switch to renewable energy while the developing nations make a transition,” she said.

Other issues

Other issues which are part of the climate change discussion were discussed in sessions on livestock emissions, methane emission due to rice farming, among others. Livestock emissions constitute 14.5 per cent of the total greenhouse gas emissions in the world. Switching to a diet which has different proteins can reduce GHG emissions, said Ndambi. Maricar Alberto from International Rice Research Institute said that one way of reducing methane emission in cultivation of rice was using irrigation methods which used less water.