What's with the Climate?

Voices of a Subcontinent grappling with Climate Change


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India’s expectation from UNFCCC COP 20

COP 20, Lima is very important and will prepare roadmap for a potential agreement in Paris, 2015. This was reiterated by Ravi Shankar Prasad lead negotiator from India, in an informal conversation with Indian Youth Delegation. Setting India’s expectation he said, India, like all other developing countries, wants to know what goes in “intended Nationally Determined Contributions” (iNDCs). Intended Nationally Determined Contributions is a mechanism put in place for voluntary commitments which parties can undertake for enhancing actions in pre-2020 period. Apart from mitigation measures like emission reduction, developing countries also want adaptation and capacity building strategies in the iNDCs. For iNDCs to be effective adequate financial resources need to be mobilized. These two are critical issues which hopefully will be looked into in the coming days and later months. India on its part is having internal evaluation for iNDCs, the report will be out this month. Between March- June, 2015 formal submission of Indian iNDC will be made to UNFCCC Secretariat.

Indian Youth Delegation with Indian NegotiatorAccording to Mr. Prasad US- China climate deal is a minor announcement. They have agreed only on two issues i.e. China peaking its green house gas emissions by 2030 and US reducing its emission by 26-28% below 2005 levels by 2025. It’s not as amazing an announcement, but is a good starting point. He denied the fact that it will have major implications on India and also rejected the suggestion that India is going to announce its Green House Gas peaking anytime soon.

Apart from iNDCs and adequate resource mobilization, he also reflected on technology mechanism. According to him, India is pushing for relaxation of global Intellectual Patent Rights Norms so as to access efficient technologies. Conducive global IPR regime will provide enabling environment for developing countries to move towards greener economy.

Rest as they say, the charm of negotiator is determined by the way he hides his thoughts and not the revelation of it. It’s just the first day, and nothing is final till the deal is sealed.

With inputs from N. S. Prasad.

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Time for India to step out of the Climate Shadow

Riddhima Yadav*

The announcement last week by the United States and China of a deal setting limits on greenhouse gases has set the ball rolling for the UN climate talks at Lima next week. But it has also done something long overdue – turned the spotlight on India. India has been under some pressure from the US and EU in the run up to the Peru talks to revise its INDCs (intended nationally determined contributions), which would push the country to further reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. However, India’s long-held position is that it will not sacrifice eradicating poverty to limit carbon emissions. In the words of Environment minister Prakash Javadekar, “Poverty is India’s greatest environmental challenge.”

But is this really an excuse? Not really, according to several climate campaigners and experts. “Energy poverty is no longer a justification for coal expansion,” said Ashish Fernandes of Greenpeace India. In the last five years alone, India increased its coal power capacity by 73 percent. To fuel the new plants, India plans to double domestic coal production to one billion tons a year by 2019, and boost imports, notably from Australia. Pollution from India’s coal plants — largely unregulated and unmonitored — kills up to 115,000 Indians a year, and costs India’s economy as much as $4.6 billion. India’s air is among the world’s dirtiest.

India, the world’s third highest emitter of greenhouse gases has long been hiding in the shadows of Chinese climate policies. Indian delegates have long been ardent defenders of the principle of “common but differentiated responsibility” – the concept that the burden of emissions reductions and financial assistance on climate change for poor countries belongs to developed countries, who have a historical responsibility.The concept has often hampered global climate negotiations, especially as some developing countries became emerging economies.Jairam Ramesh, India’s former environment minister and chief negotiator, believes it is time to rethink that approach.”Differentiation is essential but is this distinction made in a completely different era over two decades back still meaningful? Simply put, it is not,” he said.

Maybe that is why, sensing the change in global sentiment on climate change strategies, Prime Minister Modi recast the almost defunct Prime Minister’s council on climate change, seeking to reinvigorate the body ahead of a pivotal year for global talks. The council, which was set up in 2006 under the erstwhile UPA government, had not met in the past three years due to differences in the government ranks over climate policy. Aware of the global expectations, the Modi-government has also commissioned a study to assess India’s current greenhouse gas emissions trajectory, the results of which will be out by December. These results, along with the internal assessments of the government, will be used to prepare India’s new voluntary targets to the international community under the new pact to be signed in 2015. Furthermore, this has been followed up by an announcement on renewable energyIndia has indicated it aimed to increase the share of renewables to at least 15 per cent of its total energy usage, up from 6 per cent currently. India also hopes to bring in nearly USD$100 billion investment in renewable energy projects and install 100GW of solar capacity.

It remains to be seen whether this announcement will be followed through with concrete action – the long standing issue with a majority of climate committments. In the run up to Paris, pressure is now building on india to take a clear stance at the UN Climate talks. The negotiations next week will be intently watched to see what India comes up with!

*Riddhima Yadav is a member of Indian Youth Climate Network


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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

1.https://unfccc.int/essential_background/the_science/items/6064.php

2.http://www.vox.com/2014/9/25/6843673/india-climate-change-stance-emissions-rise-30-years

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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Climate crisis: An appeal to the governments of Pakistan and India

By Rina Saeed Khan and Kabir Arora

With Jammu and Kashmir inundated and Punjab in Pakistan flooded, the time bomb is ticking away. Climate change has been declared to be the greatest threat facing mankind this century.

South Asian countries such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar are all vulnerable today.

We have not yet resolved the basic issues of poverty, hunger and inequality, which breed discontent and terrorism. And in these troubling times, we are forced to face the brunt of extreme weather events because of growing climate variability.

Recent scientific research shows near to virtual certainty of linkages between climate change and extreme weather events.

Climate change is a potent threat multiplier that will make all our problems much worse.

The investment on constructing Asia’s largest solar thermal power plant in the Cholistan Desert and subsidies to buy solar technology for households and institutions in India are good starting points for sustainable growth pathways to mitigate climate change. However, a lot more is expected from the South Asian leadership.

In India and Pakistan, we have popularly elected strong governments, who now should show pragmatic leadership to tackle the climate crisis.

Already a proposal has been submitted to the Pakistan government to request India, as part of the current “flood aid diplomacy” to establish a system for the real-time exchange of hydro-logical (rivers flow and reservoirs level) data between the two countries….

The article is originally published on dawn.com and can be read at here.