What's with the Climate?

Voices of a Subcontinent grappling with Climate Change


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Climate Change Mitigation – an equitable solution?

A few weeks back, I was at attending a symposium on climate change, sustainability and equity in Hyderabad, organized by reputed institutions, and attended by prominent figures in academia and civil society. The symposium was informative and lively, consisting of numerous presentations on subjects ranging from climate change and gender to the future of ‘the protocol’. One topic that captured my attention was the issue of equity, and how climate change was creating inequity not only through its far reaching impacts, but also how even mitigation efforts were turning out to be an inequitable undertaking for the majority of the worlds’ population.  It is clear that the 36 Annex 1 countries of the UNFCCC, with their energy intensive lifestyles and their relentless but inequitable pursuit of progress have been responsible for the vast majority of emissions. Through this indiscriminate and inconsiderate pathway of development, they have created and reinforced inequity time and again.

Developing countries now have a very small window of opportunity for following this unsustainable but demonstrated development pathway before we reach the crucial tipping point of 550 ppmv of CO2 equivalent, following which the magnitude and frequency of impacts would far outweigh opportunities for development. Meanwhile, wealthy Annex 1 countries are perpetrating further injustices on the poor of the world, and are arm-wringing India into submission and into committing to binding emissions reductions. IsClimate Injustice portrayed by Center for Science & Environment this equity? Climate change will undoubtedly increase socio economic imbalances in society. Poorer segments of the population, especially those dependent on natural resource management such as farmers, livestock herders, fisher folk and other marginal communities would be most affected by the adverse impacts of climate change, while they themselves would have contributed very little to emissions. Even within a country like India, climate change is gradually revealing how inequitable the future will be. The section of the population which can afford air travel will also be the segment of the population which has an energy lifestyle comparable to the west, and is therefore most responsible for climate change.

Paradoxically, they are also the section which will be least impacted by climate change. Poorer people who can’t afford energy intensive lifestyles instead will have to face the brunt of climate change, and will be forced to adapt or perish. Is it equitable to ask these segments of the population to alter their lifestyles, which are already low carbon intensive, while they are going to suffer greatly because of no fault of theirs? It is crucial in future to maintain equity in society, and to protect those communities that are least equipped to adaptation to the impacts. Creating livelihood opportunities for vulnerable segments of the population who have been impacted, displaced and traumatized, and helping them during this period, would go a long way in preserving equitable development in our society.

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A Proactive Civil Society and Climate Change

What does our world wake up to??

To the news of children being killed in Iraq, of the homeless in Sudan, rising inflation, new consumer products, cinema, scientific discoveries and what not.

But of late, we are waking up to another unfortunate reality. That of climate change.

Climate change is a global problem that is going to affect us all negatively. And I realise that government leadership might seem as the most important factor. But given the fact that governmental goals are short term, only a proactive civil society can help spread awareness and mobilize people for public opinion, political participation and exerting pressure on representatives.

We need to realise that a civil society includes not just non-governmental organisations and groups, but individuals as well, you and me, people from various sectors-business, media, finance, academics, the young and the old. Any one who believes in creating a society that can sustain itself and move towards a better future. Climate change is predominantly an urban phenomenon and challenge. Though people living in rural areas bear the brunt of it, the challenge against it has to emanate from us. In response to this, cities are also making strides in mitigating GHG emissions from sectors they have direct control or influence over and that is why, some of the most influential sections amidst us can help build this proactive civil society, namely: the media, the business sector, NGOs and the youth.

The media is undoubtedly an element that can single-handedly create a global platform to tackle climate change and related issues. Both the print media and electronic media and the internet have had a significant impact on the way we think and act.

Littering, a problem of civil society?So imagine what change can be brought about if the media was to provide information to the people. If TV channels and newspapers were going to tell us of the ups and downs of the products we consume. We all know that global mass media lives off certain buzz words and they will be only glad to create an atmosphere of fear, with an issue as dangerous such as this. But let us not deny the power possessed by the media. What we need is a responsible mass media that will handle the truth in an efficient manner.

The media can help in educating people across regions. as media consumers can demand the truth only a pro active civil society

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