What's with the Climate?

Voices of a Subcontinent grappling with Climate Change


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Climate change, ISIS and Economy of Common Good

Rishab Khanna*

What if I said that the floods in Chennai, crazy storm in Sweden, and the upsurges in the Middle East have only one long-time solution?

Some might say that this is absurd, but I believe that not being able to see the connections and the systemic loopholes is absurd.  Untamed thirst for natural resources, coupled with excessive carbon emissions, has created major crises in many of the economies.

It is no surprise that the developing countries and especially Least Developed Countries have most to lose. The developed countries have been built on the colonial past, during which they not only exploited resources of the developing countries, but also left a lasting imprint on the social and ecological systems, in a way that has continued the neocolonial exploitation.  Many of the developing countries have been controlled through dictatorial regimes which have been often imposed on them by the west.

According to my colleague Peter Riddle, “Whenever we (the Western coalition) have supported a particular group in West Asia to counter another group, that group has become a monster. We supported Israel, and that alienated the whole Arab and Muslim world. We supported the Taliban in Afghanistan to oust the Soviets, and it became Al-Qaeda, which spawned ISIS”.

However, the G20, or the group of developed nations refused to take responsibility of the historical debt, at the same time, they continue to misguide the world with the arbitrary figure of the GDP. Do more products and services in the economy mean a better life, improvement in the ecological system? Not  necessarily. On the contrary, it could mean more war and increase in destruction of natural resources.  No wonder most countries do not want to stop climate change, or stop the oil trade with ISIS, as it affects the GDP of our world.

Don’t we all wonder, why are we obsessed with quantifying the GDP, when it has not the relation with the quality of life?

In fact, in a survey done by Accenture in Germany and Austria, almost 80 to 90 percent of the respondents said that they wanted a change in the economic system, and almost 67 percent said that they would like to review GDP as the highest goal of the economy.  Then what are we waiting for?

Currently the leaders from emerging countries like India believe that mitigating climate change is a huge sacrifice for us.

President Pranab Mukherjee recently said, “India faces a huge responsibility and challenge in meeting its developmental requirements while remaining committed at the same time to clean energy.” What If there are no contradictions in these goals. What if development goals are only possible with clean energy, with minimal impact on health and environment?

Imagine that the new climate target of the COP 21 agreement for limiting global warming to less than 1.5 degrees of warming becomes part of the common good product of nation, making GDP (Gross Domestic Product) irrelevant.  An increase in the common good product would mean reducing inequality, reduction in emissions and more jobs.

At the corporate level, an increase in the common good balance sheet, would mean fair wages, reduction in emissions of carbon dioxide and no revenue coming from the sales of weapons or on patents of live forms.

Our financial return would be the common good return, where investments are creating social impact rather than just blind profit.

The founder of the Economy for the Common Good, Christian Felber, says that working for the common good as the highest goal of the economy is nothing new, as most constitutions of democratic countries refer to the same; however this has not been given the attention it deserves.

The COP 21 agreement is a historical treaty for us, as 196 countries have committed to the path of climate justice, however the political reality is often shaped by the economic rhetoric of blind growth, without creating the right framework for a transparent market which would promote ethical and sustainable production, and until we turn the economy back to its feet, we will struggle to achieve the climate target, 17 SDGs or even peace in the world.

(Rishab is former Board Member of Indian Youth Climate Network -IYCN and is currently working as Programm associate for Ethical Leadership and Sustainable Living at Initiatives of Change, Sweden)

 

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A Whole INDsea of Issues OR Incrementally Nonsensical Difficult and Confusing

Pandora Batra 

Seeing as large international organisations telling individual countries what to do and how to do it hasn’t really worked so far, in the lead up to the COP 21 countries have been asked to provide their own ‘Intended Nationally Determined Contributions.’ (INDCs). These take the form of a report from each of the UNFCCC parties (countries) outlining what they are going to do to reduce CO2 emissions and help their populations adapt to the impacts of climate change.

You may have seen mention of India’s INDCs in the news recently as they were released on Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday (2nd October, 2015) and have created quite a stir in the Indian and global climate change community.

The main Indian INDCs in the report were:

To reduce the emissions intensity of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 33% to 35% by 2030 from 2005 level.

Translation: rather than making absolute reductions in emissions they are pledging to reduce the amount of GHG emissions released per unit of GDP.  They are saying they will continue to develop but reduce the amount of emissions that this development causes.

To achieve 40% cumulative electric power installed capacity from non-fossil fuel based energy resources by 2030.

Translation: “installed capacity” means that lots of solar parks/ wind turbines/ hydro and nuclear power plants will be built but that the actual electricity generated from these non-fossil fuel technologies will be lower due to transmission and and generation losses.

To better adapt by enhancing investments in vulnerable sectors.

To create an additional carbon sink of 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of co2 equivalent through additional forest and tree cover by 2030.

Translation: Plant many trees..but what kind of trees? And newly planted mono-culture trees do not a forest make!

To better adapt, to mobilize domestic and new and additional funding from developed countries and to build capacities for improving research and development (R&D) opportunities and implement the above mitigation and adaptation strategies.

The reactions to India’s INDCs have been varied; Climate Action Tracker  which assesses the ambitiousness of each countries targets places India in the medium category, better than countries like the US and Russia but not as ambitious as countries like Brazil and China. Climate Action Tracker also claims that India is likely to over-achieve on its targets without having to update or implement any new policies. i.e. If India sticks to the targets they had made before the INDCs came out then they will overachieve on the INDC targets. Basically, the INDCs don’t really change anything, they are a nice bit of motivation and publicity but the targets aren’t moving India towards reducing its emissions faster or more efficiently.

What does this mean in global terms? Do the INDCs add up to the 2°C target? Well, according to a recent report by the International Energy Agency (IEA) the answer, simply put, is no. In fact the IEA report stated that “If stronger action is not forthcoming after 2030, the path in the INDC Scenario would be consistent with an average temperature increase of around 2.6 °C by 2100 and 3.5 °C after 2200,”

Contact: Pandora Batra- pandora.batra@hotmail.com