What's with the Climate?

Voices of a Subcontinent grappling with Climate Change

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Time is Up, Time is Now

Shradha Shreejaya

Like every 8th of March, we rise this year in 2018 with an official theme of ‘Rural and urban activists transforming women’s lives’. This is a reminder for our movement and people on the original ‘revolutionary’ and ‘left’ origins of women’s day back in the early 1900s (until it became adopted by United Nations in 1975), and the reality of present day where every week we lose a woman environment, human rights defender to ‘development’ ambitions.

In the current climate politics of the world, where we are delaying justice to the most affected communities and negotiations lost in translation, hope and action come from the grassroots women leading the way for a just transition. Attempts of ‘pinkwashing’ by corporations and jargon agencies are trivializing the intent of strong movements by confining women’s roles in climate action to merely ‘cooking stove interventions’ and gender inclusive ‘colours’ or ‘text’, whereas the demands for real solutions are sidelined.

So what are we talking about when we talk about a ‘gender just’ climate agreement this Women’s Day – ensure just and equitable transition[1] of the economy and employment that safeguards environment, thus truly transforming women’s lives.  As we progress into the UNFCCC intersessionals in May, women and gender movements urge governments to take action and honor their promise for gender equality.

To be fair and equitable, this transition must also challenge the gendered-division of labour, which places women in often low waged, insecure and informal subsistence and service industries. This just and equitable transition should challenge the foundations of paid labour so that both paid and unpaid care and domestic work, mostly assumed by women, is valued and redistributed.

The climate crisis persists when private interests and profits matter more than the respect of human rights or the conservation of the Earth and the environment. We need energy and resource democracy, where local people, particularly women, are able to make decisions over the use of local resources and the best way to fulfil their needs. The fight against climate change cannot be impeded by commercial interests[2].

Women’s rights are human rights. Without safeguarding the climate agenda and agreements within the human rights charter and progressing on the commitment towards Loss and Damages, we will continue to fail the activists losing their communities and lives to the crisis.

So this year when we rise, let it be in remembrance of everyone who has risked, fought and lost their lives to keep us moving forward towards a just world that ensures a fair future for all.


[1] Women and Gender Constituency key demands 2017

[2] Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development’s Feminist Fossil Fuel Free Future (5F) vision statement


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Which way will we walk?

Source: DTMMS

 A Story from Mother’s Tales and Imaginary Hot Air Balloons

by Nimesh Ved, Tobias Dorr, Daniela Boos

During school days, of which I have endearing memories, my mother used to teach me mathematics during evenings. This primarily dealt with basics of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. This ‘rough-work’ as it was then referred to, used to take place, on most occasions, on envelopes. Reverse of envelopes that had brought in letters, news-papers and magazines; after scraping them open with foot-rulers. White and colourful, large and small, it used to be fun to tear and get them ready for use.

Mother’s point was (and still is), to use a thing – big or small, expensive or otherwise – optimally and explore alternate use after the article was rendered unfit for its primary usage. Added to this was the dictum of only buying items that one needed.

These values I somehow imbibed. Years later when I was part of teams in Saiha (Mizoram) and Baghmara (Meghalaya), we used to regularly get Sanctuary Asia, Down to Earth, Seminar India and other engrossing reading companions to these endearing places. Envelopes that brought in these were put to use as ‘sorters’ in the office files.

Mother’s reasoning, then, was guided more from the point of saving money (a scarce resource itself!) than others. This could be, without much difficulty, today shrugged off as a miserly approach to life. But is not this facet the same as espousing a lifestyle that is low on ecological foot-print and climate friendly?

Evidence of climate change and its impact can be already observed today in daily life, at a time when we are still able to make a change. Most farmers in multiple states across the country observe changes in rainfall patterns, a decrease in duration of the winter season, uncertainty of arrival of seasons and other issues that impact farming. They may have never heard of terms like climate change or global warming, but they understand the associated phenomena well.

For instance, a researcher working on the impacts of climate change on agriculture shared that farmers lamented that their festivals have lost their bearings during recent years due to changes in climate. These changes lead to alteration in cultivation cycles and most of their festivals revolved around these cultivation cycles. It is heartening, she said, that farmers, in different regions, have designed and implemented strategies to adapt to climate change. Many farmers in Odisha, in areas affected by soil salinity owing to the Super Cyclone in 1999, had switched from paddy to crab cultivation and betel leaf plantation. Apple cultivators of Himachal Pradesh had shifted to higher altitudes owing to the rise in temperatures; apple requires a cooler climate for a certain period.

After dwelling in my childhood memories and recognizing the challenges of climate change the earth faces these days, I moved to imagining the world 50 years down the line. How would India look like some time in 2065? Where and how would people live? I closed my eyes and I flew over the country in an imaginary hot air balloon – and I was surprised: Continue reading

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How The Last Week Turned Out To Be One Of The Saddest Weeks In The Environmental History Of India

Mr. Modi’s recent speech, which received a standing ovation from the Indian delegation in a largely empty United Nations General assembly, is a representation of our collective ignorance. The popularly elected Prime Minister hinted that yoga is a way to mitigate climate change. One is not sure whether he was ridiculing the threat of climate change or mocking the ancient science of Yoga. This is not the first time Mr. Modi has shown his ignorance about climate change. His past statements are well documented where he declared that climate is not changing, our lifestyle is.

A request out of utter humour was posted on the Indian Youth Climate Network Page – “Our sincere requests to our ‘popular’ Prime Minister- please don’t make unnecessary linkages. Yoga is good for health but definitely not a strategy of mitigating climate change. Changing in lifestyle as you stated is needed and should start from your own very self, maybe you should learn from your counterpart in Uruguay. Too much to ask for, is it?!” received absurd responses, which were later removed by the admin.

Many of them actually made connections between yoga and climate change mitigation. According to one of the commentator, yoga helps to still the mind, and that ways we can face climate change. Most people who read it were not able to make any sense of it. It shows our collective ignorance and failure of scientific understanding.

India was founded by its makers to promote scientific understanding. Constitution starts with the declaration of ‘we the people’ and not with invocation of God or Almighty, or any particular religious or spiritual tradition. It seems that as Indians, we have missed the point altogether. We have failed to inculcate scientific values and prefer giving copies of Bhagvad Gita to everyone. While we have low understanding of science, we have become over-obsessed with technology. Let me make myself clear here – technology doesn’t always translate into science, rationale or logic. There are differences which we will not get into now.

Let’s move back to environmental governance and ignorance of the political class in India. A day before the Prime Minister’s visit to New York UN Assembly, Mr. Javadekar, Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change sang the old raga of ‘historical responsibility’ of emissions and just made a fool of his very own self in the UN summit on Climate Change called by Ban Ki Moon. The variability in climate will not cause natural disasters in historically responsible developed nations alone. For the weather patterns, these artificial nation state boundaries mean nothing. We all need to take firm commitments, whatever we can afford. And India has a vast potential to take shared responsibility on her shoulders. We have an opportunity to take a leap from the dirty polluting model of development. A pragmatic view is what we are lacking in our leadership. This is something which we need to remind our Environment Minister of….

The piece is originally published in Youth Ki Awaaz and is continued here.-

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Agents of Change (IYCN) Helping Educate Students About Climate Change

by Manish Gautam*

Climate Change is a buzzword these days, although one can notice its absence in the English and other vernacular newspapers, education syllabuses and other general discourses, except in the scientific community in India (however due to its jargon language and closed room discussions it does not often grab the attention of the laymen). The question that might occur to anyone is what exactly is ‘this’ climate change and what we mean by climate change knowledge. It consists of definition of (human induced) climate change, the scientific findings supporting that the climate change occurring today is chiefly due to human activities, and it is important to take action timely otherwise the sustenance in this world would be difficult in near future. The main accused of this climate change are greenhouse gases that have been emitted mostly due to human activities (industries, agriculture, etc.), and the primary stress that every scientific study assessing the impact of climate change is to mitigate emission of these gases[1].

The UN summits and other global venues where climate change is being discussed, the developed and developing nations are often at the tug of war on who should be blamed for this 21st century scare. Montreal protocol, Kyoto protocol and other agreements, however, gave an optimistic picture that the future might be better; the agenda of economic growth being at the helm, lately, in developing countries such as India and China are rendering Climate Change issue as less important [2]. Despite the hesitation and seemingly inaction at the world stage, India, however, has keenly started its own set of programs to deal the Climate Change. It has already deployed a national action plan on Climate Change, and the (in)famous words also made their entry to the latest five year plan (12th FYP-Planning Commission). Some states also have followed suit and laid out state level action plans. The scientific communities, NGOs, and other citizen groups are also coming forward to set the action in the right course [3].

‘Agents of Change’, a flagship program of IYCN and into existence since 2008, is determined to disseminate knowledge and information on Climate Change and create awareness among the Indian youth about the issue. The Agents of Change have continuously made their presence at the past CoPs representing the Indian youth and appealing to the leaders of nation-states to adopt measures to curb the carbon emissions, and to combat the Climate Change problem [4].

On the onset of the next CoP in Lima, December 2014, the youth organizations worldwide once again are preparing themselves to mark their presence and let their voices heard. Indian youth are also not behind and they are, in the form of AoCs (IYCN) are doing their homework. The Climate Catalysts workshop, that took off in August 2014, and had its first workshop in Hyderabad city, has been empowering youth through these workshops. The two-day workshops have climate change science, global negotiations summary and policy reviews, interactive sessions with green entrepreneurs and sustainability practitioners, and group discussions among participants to understand the issue along with India’s role into climate change on its menu. The outcome so far – Hyderabad, Bangalore, Pune, Ahmedabad, Chandigarh – has been encouraging and the responses from the participating youth are making AoCs to achieve its goal of spreading knowledge on Climate Change.

While the ecological and environmental issues pertaining to India have been at the center of the discussions at the workshops, the youth have started to perceive the issue of Climate Change and to understand it as an imminent threat at national and regional level. The workshops are the groundwork for the Agents to present the youth’s opinion in the dialog of climate change at CoP. Amid the news of increasing levels of CO2 emissions, population growth, and action-inaction of the nation states to make the vulnerable future resilient, the information and knowledge can prove to be a powerful tool to fight for a livable, sustainable world.

*Manish Gautam is a researcher @Indian Institute for Human Settlements and member of Indian Youth Climate Network



3.http://www.c2es.org/international/key-country-policies/india/climate-plan-summary, http://envfor.nic.in/ccd-sapcc

  1. http://iycn.in/

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These ‘Green Entrepreneurs’ Are Our Saviours In The Climate Emergency

Informal economy! I’m not sure whether any of the readers have had heard the term ‘informal economy’ ever before. As far as I know, the term is not there in school syllabus. It is apparently absent from Bachelors’ courses too. Informal economy workers are everywhere. Let me also make one thing very clear, that informal economy workers are neither illegal nor illegitimate children of the republic. It is definitely not the other name of black market.

Informal economy, at very basic level, means the economy or sectors which are not regularized or recognized by the state or other state actors. Most of the developing economies are known for large scale informalities in various sectors. South Asia, particularly India, is no different. According to the Employment & Unemployment Survey 2004-05, 84.7 % of Indians work in the informal economy, a majority of those are women and many fall in the category of youth. A street vendor selling vegetables, a cobbler repairing shoes, domestic help, waste picker collecting –sell-able or recyclable waste, agriculture labourer, carpenter and many more are all informal economy workers. They are the backbone of Indian economy. Their contribution to GDP is rarely acknowledged.

Most informal economy workers are poor, marginalized and in context of India, belong to erstwhile lower castes. They live in informal settlements which are disease prone, with no proper water and sanitation facilities. Their access to social, educational and nutritional security is lowest amongst most social groups. In recent years, a few welfare measures like right to food and right to education have come up, but they are too short of addressing the cores issues which make masses vulnerable.

In the troubled times like the ones we are living in, another monster is standing at our door. The monster is Climate Emergency. The nation-states have not taken any stringent action to mitigate the climate crisis. Instead, they agreed to have a 2 degree C rise in temperature without even knowing what it implies. This means that they have agreed to more floods, droughts, irregular rains and falling agriculture production.

The article was originally published in Youth Ki Awaaz and can be read here.

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Indian Youth on Climate Change

Climate Catalysts 2014

Climate Catalysts 2014

According to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), ‘climate change is a change of climate which is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity that  alters the composition of the global atmosphere and which occurs in addition to natural climate variability observed over comparable time and periods.

Climate Change builds elevated levels of insecurity about our future and amidst this uncertainty; there is only one thing certain. We shall leave our planet to our children, the future generations – today’s youth. The swift environmental changes demand humanity to not think in terms of years and decades, but across centuries and generations, where choices made today shall have a spillover on climate across the coming years. This recognizes the high need of making the youth aware about the challenges and opportunities that shall come along the science and policy of climate change. Undoubtedly, it is a must and the right of the youth to have a say in their future, not because of the anticipated impacts but it is their ingenuity, ability to define and bring upon answers with outright determination, that can make a significant difference in evading the catastrophes of climate change.

India is a powerhouse of the youth; not only for itself, but also for the world. By 2020, India is said to be the world’s youngest country with 64 percent of its population to be below 35 (United Nations IRIS Knowledge Foundation Report 2012). Think the quantum of change such millions minds can bring out. But battling with huge population, high poverty rate, weakening Indian rupee and weak governance coupled with its unparallel development schemes, India is a fragile landwhen it comes to impacts of climate change. The techno-economic solutions, financial incentives and political regulations are not enough. Education is the most powerful tool that has the potential to bring about a fundamental change in the way people think. It requires extensive makeover of the conventional education. It calls for learning and knowing climate change, about risk mitigation measures, biodiversity and innovative alternatives.

This key role to the involvement of the young in the matters of climate change was recognized by the United Nations Systems which works in collaboration with the United Nations Joint Framework Initiative on Children, Youth and Climate Change (Joint Framework Initiative). Through this, the youth has a decisive role of raising the national ambitions, which would result into an established new climate change regime by the year 2015. The COP13 (Conference of Parties) at Bali witnessed a paradoxical absence of the Indian delegation. Despite being one of the most vulnerable nations with the leading youth population, there was only a mere representation at the conference. Thus, to empower the Indian youth with a voice and to facilitate communication with the Indian parliamentarians, the Indian Youth Climate Network (IYCN) was born. Such a formulation gave a platform to Indian youth to participate and contribute to the Indian climate dialogues on climate policy and agreements at national and international levels. The onset of COP20, to be held in Lima this year in December, will have IYCN play a very important role as it will take the climate change movement of India youth from the grassroots level to the global arena. A flagship programme called the IYCN Agents of Change, will train hundreds of youth across India around climate change. Through its workshops Agents of Change programme will lay a favorable ground for the Indian youth to formulate their voices for the future international policy on climate change. Selected youth from these workshops will be taken to Lima in December this year to attend COP 20. Agents of Change programme will expose youth to ongoing international climate discussions and gear them to participate at the local level negotiations. The programme will also help in harnessing the youth as a nation’s asset, driving them towards sustainable development where they shall formulate, work and lead the change.

The increasing impact and presence of young people in the climate talks in not only because climate change is inter-generational, but all because climate change doesn’t discriminate between with respect to age. Youth bring a different voice, energy and determinations. A youth attending the Regional Workshop on the Implementation of Article 6 of the UNFCCC in Africa, 2010, rightly said, “Fighting climate change is not about polar bears. It’s about me and about us; it’s about love and about trust.”

Youth can build effectual partnership with printing and social media to exponentially spread public awareness on youth action on climate change. They can produce documentaries, movies and science fiction on anticipated consequence of climate change on the ecosystem. Through networks like IYCN, the youth have immense opportunities to mobilize their ideas and imagination and develop them to drive India on the path of sustainable development. Al Gore in his new climate change awareness campaign, The Climate Reality Project, correctly highlighted the youth as ‘the advocates of the climate change movement.’ — By Dimple Ranpara, Project Survival Media

Agents of Change is a programme of IYCN and being supported by Germany India Cooperation (GIZ). The workshops are being conducted in 8 cities- Delhi, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Kolkata, Pune, Ahmedabad, Vizag and Chandigarh. The workshops are open to youth from all walks of life. Please check the schedulebelow to participate in your city. There is no fee for attending these workshops.




August       23, 24


                 30, 31


September 6,7


                 13, 14


                 20, 21


                 27, 28


October     11, 12


                 18, 19


November   1, 2





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A Journey to Remember: Climate Solutions Road Tour (Episodes 1 & 2)

In 2009, an adventurous team of young people gathered in India to undertake a 3,500 kilometer journey across the country in search of solutions to climate change.  This unforgettable journey in a caravan led by electric vehicles made quite a splash.  Five years later thanks to Solar Punch, we are able to share this journey with you in snippets.  For more on the tour, you can also visit the website.