What's with the Climate?

Voices of a Subcontinent grappling with Climate Change


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Need for Resilient Agricultural Systems in the face of Climate Variability

Indian Youth Climate Network Policy Brief on Agriculture under UNFCCC

Background & Current Status: Agriculture contributes to and is threatened by climate change, thus jeopardizing global food security. Increasing variability in weather patterns makes agriculture one of the sectors this is most vulnerable to impacts of climate change. Smallholders, comprising approximately 500 million small farms globally, are particularly vulnerable to climate change, potentially making nearly two billion people food insecure worldwide.

Agriculture is recognized as integral part for both adaption and mitigation on climate change. Article 2 of the UNFCCC outlines as ultimate objective the need to stabilize concentration of green house gases to ‘ensure that food production is not threatened’ by climate change. Article 4.1 (c) of UNFCCC detailing the commitments of parties provides for ‘promotion and cooperation in the development of technologies, practices and processes that can mitigate emissions from the relevant sectors’, including agriculture. It also states that parties need to cooperate in preparing to adapt to the impacts of climate change, and develop and elaborate appropriate and integrated plans for agriculture amongst other things Art 4.1 (e).

At COP 13 in Bali, parties had agreed to ‘develop and elaborate cooperative and sectoral approaches and sector specific actions to implement Art. 4.1(c)’, under the Ad-hoc Working Group on Long Term Cooperative Action (AWG-LCA).

The text from LWG-LCA in COP 15 in 2009 at Copenhagen was agreed to be protected. The text mentioned the need to improve the efficiency and productivity of agricultural production systems in a sustainable manner. Interests of farmers, rights of indigenous peoples and traditional knowledge practices were also recognized along with the link between agriculture and food security, adaptation and mitigation. It was also argued that agriculture sector should not become a reason for imposing trade barriers. A Work Programme on Agriculture under Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA- a technical body that advises parties to UNFCCC and Kyoto Protocol on scientific, technological and methodological questions) was sought to be established.

At COP 17 in Durban (2011), parties agreed to include Agriculture as an agenda item in SBSTA, thereby, moving it from the LCA discussions. At Doha in COP 18, no agreement was reached on the work programme on agriculture and the discussions on agriculture continued under SBSTA. As SBSTA mandate is to look at scientific and technological aspects and not policy matters, it also invites reports from the UN Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) including the report by the High-Level Panel of Experts on food security and nutrition to feed into its own working and at the workshops it organizes.

Some key areas and interventions on Agriculture:

  • Developing countries have argued for emphasis on adaptation to climate change given that it will impact a majority of their population that are directly dependent on agriculture as an important source of livelihood.
  • EU is in support of a Work Programme on Agriculture that addresses mitigation, adaptation and means of implementation within one umbrella.
  • Least Developed Countries (LDC’s) argue for inclusion of agriculture in Adaptation Committee and discussions in Ad Hoc Durban Platform (ADP).
  • Coalition for Rainforest Nations have stressed on agriculture as a source of food security and livelihoods, and therefore need for greater adaptation.
  • Independent Alliance of Latin America and the Caribbean(AILAC) underlined the potential of adaptation efforts and associated co-benefits on agriculture.
  • Farmers’s NGO’s have repeatedly asked for work programme on agriculture under SBSTA.

At Bonn in June 2014, SBSTA agreed to consider the development of early warning systems and contingency plans in relation to extreme weather events; assessment of vulnerability and risk of agricultural systems in relation to different climate change scenarios; identification of adaptation measures; and identification and assessment of agricultural practices and technologies to enhance productivity in a sustainable manner, food security and resilience (FCCC/SBSTA/2014/L.14) at the SBSTA 42 /44 inter-sessional discussions. [1]

Developed countries continue to stress on the need to develop the work programme which addresses adaptation and mitigation together,it is still under discussion.

Some key areas that need added focus:

  • As UNFCCC seeks experts reports and feedback from FAO and CFS on its discussions on agriculture, SBSTA needs to analyse how it can ensure greater coherence on agricultural policies while at the same time avoid high transaction costs that are associated with duplication of efforts.
  • SBSTA’s workshops can be used as a forum to foster greater dialogue on contentious issues with an aim to arrive at policies that are necessary for an equitable, food secure, sustainable, and humane farming future in the face of climate change.
  • As the scientific and technical body, SBSTA should identify research and exchanges that are necessary to fulfill these goals.

The Way Forward: For the deal between and after Paris, it has become important to ensure that climate policies encompassing agriculture include considerations and safeguards that protect and promote food security, biodiversity, equitable access to resources, the right to food, animal welfare, and the rights of indigenous peoples and local populations, while promoting poverty reduction and climate adaptation. Given the extreme vulnerability of small farmers and producers, policies need to promote biodiverse, resilient agricultural systems that achieve social and gender equity and are led by small producers. Depending on the contextual requirement, systems should be developed, demonstrated, tested, and implemented, so as to transform farming which is environmentally, economically, or socially unsustainable into farming that improves ecosystem health, communities, and cultures – even in the face of a changing climate.

Prepared by Supriya Singh after consultation with Indian Youth Climate Network members.

[1]Earth Negotiations Bulletin, Vol. 12 No. 598, pp 15.

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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.

SCHEDULE

Date

City

August       23, 24

Hyderabad

                 30, 31

Bangalore

September 6,7

Pune

                 13, 14

Ahmadabad

                 20, 21

Chandigarh

                 27, 28

Delhi

October     11, 12

Kolkata

                 18, 19

Bangalore

November   1, 2

Vizag

 

 

 


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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.


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A Freedom Past Due

The following is an address at the Youth Summit segment of the Renewable Energy India Expo 2008 held in Pragati Maidan in New Delhi on August 23, 2008.


Kahi saalon pehale, humne, badi mushkil se, ek azadi payi thi.  Aur indino hum ek nayi azadi chahte hain.

There comes a time in our lives when we have to take a stand for something.  Every generation is defined by some large event or movement.  Ours is a unique case in that the event is something that has gained momentum with time with no clear victims and perpetrators.  The damage caused till date and that which awaits us is on such a scale that to begin to comprehend it may leave you feeling helpless and in despair.  We know the root problem and there is tension in the understanding for the need of  a groundswell movement that will not only define us as a generation, but decide the fate of humanity.

There has been a lot of talk about freedom at this expo.  Someone mentioned a “quit oil movement” and the Honorable Minister of MNRE also spoke from the heart about doing more than just business here.  There is an apparent need to turn renewable energy into a movement.  Let us go back to the “stroke of the midnight hour” and the tryst we had once made with destiny.  Let us renew our pledge not only to ourselves but to the still larger cause of humanity.  For this time, as the world slowly awakens, India must reignite its ingenuity and its drive for freedom to rid ourselves of the burden of foreign energy sources and those that will make the planet play dearly.

We as a nation stand at the crossroads of not only defining our own developmental future but the ecological future of the entire planet.  Climate change is a simple call for humanity to unite and as youth we make up nearly 48% of the global population.  In India with nearly 3/4ths of the population being below the age of 30, we ARE youth.  It is our future that is on the line and we must get engaged in the debate.  Youth around the world are uniting for the cause.  They are vying for a seat as official stake holders (alongside the World Bank, the IMF and many civil society organizations) at the UNFCCC, the international body attempting to frame the next global deal to address this crucial matter.  In Bali when the road map for this next global deal was unveiled there was no youth representation from India.  A country who is coming under greater scrutiny for its current stand on the matter, and which is majority youth must see to it that its youth are found there.

The Indian Youth Climate Network was born out of this idea and with the belief that youth needed a platform to discuss and debate the issue of climate change in an attempt to drive consensus on the need to take action on the matter here in India.  We can take our economy to new heights by pushing for green jobs.  We can push for a cleaner, brighter future by engaging the government in policy.  We can demand climate justice in the international forum but ensure that we are having it here at home as well. This is an andolan to beat all andolans as there is no time to lose.  If we lose this one, we may not be around to have any more andolans.  Recently a close friend of mine in the climate movement broke down and cried.  Her words shook me:  “I think what makes me sad is that I may not live to see the successful end of climate change.”  I think those of us who are in their 20s know that grave danger lies ahead and that the least our generation can do is to take considerable steps to ensure that those younger than us can have a glimmer of hope.

The winds of change have started blowing.  Over 150 youth and young professionals from across the country gathered in Hyderabad on the Infosys campus to draft the national youth action plan on climate change and the overarching Indian youth Declaration on climate change.  The principals in this vision is what we as youth are advocating for and we want all sectors in society to take these commitments to ensure a future of hope for us.   We want the government and industry to know that the youth have arrived at last.  We are here to pave the way for green jobs but we will need enlightened corporations to come forward.  We are here to take up civic duties and hunt for solutions but we will need the support of enlightened leadership in the government.  We are here to give a voice to the voiceless and lend a hand to those who feel alone in the dark about how to take action.  Join us and become an agent of change today!


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IYSoCC Just the Beginning

From debate paralleling UN climate negotiations to Mr. Narayana Murthy’s address to the youth and from discussion of India’s emissions targets to staying up till 3am discussing the future youth want to build: the Indian Youth Summit on Climate Change was a milestone for India’s youth movement on climate change.

IYSoCC Participants in front of the Charminar in Hyderabad city

IYSoCC Participants in front of the Charminar in Hyderabad city

The aim of the summit was to come out with a youth declaration on climate change to unite the individuals and organizations that have a stake in climate change – which is everyone! The summit also aimed to create the framework that would then move on to produce the India’s Youth Action Plan on Climate Change, climate policy that will be proposed to the government over the next 6-8 months. The summit was organized by the Friendship Foundation, Global Citizens for Sustainable Development, Nature & Biological Sciences Society, the Indian Youth Climate Network, and hosted by Infosys Technologies Limited at their Gachibowli campus.

It was agreed that “young people have power” as mentioned by guest speaker Bittu Sahgal, founder of Sanctuary Magazine, who went on to say it was time for youth to use it to their advantage. Deepa Gupta, co-founder of the Indian Youth Climate Network (IYCN), said, “There are so many young people working on this issue, and we won’t be listened to as individuals or as a small group of people, but mass united as the youth of India: we cannot be ignored. India has about 700 million under the age of 35. How can they not be represented in the decisions, when they are the ones that will be impacted the most by climate change?” This outlined the aim of IYCN, who have grown from a reach of 3 to over 200,000 people within 4 months of the inception of the youth movement.

Mr. Narayana Murthy, co-founder, non-executive Chairman and Chief Mentor of Infosys Technologies Limited, addressed the Indian Youth Summit on Climate Change delegates. He encouraged all of the delegates to walk the talk, “I have always believed that the most powerful instrument that a leader has is leadership by example.” He further proved this by describing his sustainable living practices, including bathing with only half a bucket of water every day for the past 40 years.

Participants agreed that India needs to act urgently, commit to emissions reduction targets and renewable energy targets. They also agreed our actions need to be based on an international target of 350ppm concentration of carbon dioxide emissions in the atmosphere. This was outlined by Mr. Will Bates from 350.org, as being the maximum safe upper limit for a safe and stable climate.

There was lots of discussion including a future India powered 100% renewable energy, international taxes to high carbon emitters, an independent GHG regulatory authority. There was also discussion on mandatory emissions reporting, all metropolitan roofs having rainwater harvesting systems by 2012 and adapting to the projected 125 million climate refugees in a business as usual scenario.

Youth presented on the climate impacts in their area, with representation ranging from Kashmir to Tamil Nadu, and Rajasthan to Meghalaya. They committed to actions in their states from organizing renewable energy expos, working with schools and colleges, lobbying their local government to implementing rural energy projects, organizing solar powered rock concerts and participating in the international climate negotiations.

The launch included all delegates from Hyderabad and AP signing on to the Hyderabad Climate Alliance Pledge, agreeing that they “understand that climate change is an impending global catastrophe… and believe that Hyderabad and Andhra Pradesh will be particularly susceptible… and commit to contribute in earnest to mitigating climate change and helping the people and natural environment of Hyderabad to adapt.”

Other guest speakers included, Mr. Nitin Desai, former Under Secretary General of the United Nations; Vandana Shiva, an eminent physicist, environmental activist, author and the founder of the Navdanya Institute; Amala Akkinani, film star and founder of the Blue Cross of Hyderabad, Gaurav Gupta from the Climate Project India, Dr Rajamani, Former Chief Secretary, Ministry of Environment & Forests, GoI, and speakers from CSM, Oxfam, Greenpeace and Sierra Club.

Other quotes:

Narayana Murthy

“We have a population of 650 to 700 million people under the age of 30. If we can mobilize this force, we will have enormous power for change to address climate change.”

Dr Rajamani:

“In your own group wherever you’re live, make the change”

“I think you’re on the ball, on the move, all the best”

Amala Akkinani

“I may not be a climate expert, but I am a concerned citizen. I love my planet; it is my only home.”

Bittu Sehgal

“Young people have power, and it is time to use it to your advantage.”

“If a lot do a little, a lot gets done.”

“If your house is on fire, you can’t go downstairs and have a debate on who started the fire and who is responsible to put it out. You all need to get some water and put it out.”

Ms. Farida Tampal

“Genetic diversity in our food crops means that we will be protected from a single climatic disaster.”

Natasha Chandy of Greenpeace India

“If we need to fight climate change, we – tomorrow’s future – need to create a revolution today. IYSoCC is just the beginning.”


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Commuters – including car owners – support the BRT overwhelmingly: finds random survey by CSE and Delhi Greens

  • A joint perception survey of commuters traveling on the BRT corridor, done by Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) and the Delhi-based student groups Delhi Greens and the Indian Youth Climate Network, has found overwhelming support for the BRT system.
  • Majority of commuters want BRT corridors in other parts of the city for better connectivity.
  • Surprise finding: contrary to general perceptions, a large majority of car and two-wheeler drivers surveyed have supported the BRT!

New Delhi, May 19, 2008: The much discussed Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system in Delhi has received another thumbs up – this time, from its regular users. A joint random perception survey of commuters traveling on the capital’s first BRT corridor, done by Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), Delhi Greens and the Indian Youth Climate Network (IYCN), has found overwhelming support for the corridor from pedestrians, cyclists, bus drivers and commuters and – surprisingly – also from car and two-wheeler drivers. The findings of the survey were released by CSE today. These findings will also be shared with the Delhi government.

Between April 30 to May 5, 2008, CSE and Delhi Greens volunteers fanned out daily on the corridor, randomly stopping and asking commuters what difference – positive or negative – was the BRT making to their daily commutes. Since there have been talks of scrapping the project, the surveyors also asked whether commuters wanted the BRT to continue.

‘Yes’ to BRT even from car drivers

Of the 1,500 people surveyed in this period, 55 per cent were bus commuters, 23 per cent were cyclists and pedestrians, 16 per cent were car and two-wheeler commuters and the rest constituted a mixed category of those using autos etc. The survey results say:

  • As much as 83 per cent of all commuters are happy with the dedicated lane system of BRT and want that the BRT system should be continued in the city.

  • The major support comes from bus commuters and pedestrians/cyclists — a whopping 88-91 per cent of these respondents said that they are happy with the BRT system and want that it should be extended to more areas of Delhi.

  • Contrary to popular belief, only 8 per cent of the car and two-wheeler commuters said that BRT should be scrapped and 73 per cent agreed that the project can be continued.

  • When asked whether they will shift from their personal vehicles to better, faster and high frequency buses equipped with AC and GPS running on the BRT corridor — 26 per cent of car and two-wheeler answered positively. However, they are seemingly reluctant to use the BRT corridor now because it extends for a mere 5.8 km. They are more willing to shift if its network covers most of the city’s roads and gets connected with the Metro

  • Many of car and two-wheeler commuters also said that jams on the MV lanes and at intersections should be reduced and more space should be allocated to them. (for the survey results, please visit www.cseindia.org).

  • Most commuters wanted the BRT corridor to be connected to the Delhi Metro and introduction of feeder buses on the corridor. There were also suggestions of cycles to be made available on rent on the stretch.

The CSE-Delhi Greens-IYCN survey shows that while there is an acknowledgement of the teething troubles that BRT is having, there is also overwhelming support for the system in the city. Commuting data from various agencies support the findings – they tell us that around 60 per cent of commuters on the corridor use buses, while cars actually carry less than 20 per cent of the people.

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Who will Arise to the Climate Challenge?

\"Youth Want Hard Caps on Emissions from Industrialized Countries!\" Bali Climate Chnage Talks, December 2007Youth: comprising 48% of the global population, or roughly 3 billion people. It is our future that was at the negotiating table in Bali last December at the UN Climate Change Conference. Yet we the youth had no say about our very own future that according to some has already been burned away by the generations preceding us. It is important to note that the so called “developing countries,” where more youth are coming from simply because of demographic advantage and where more people directly depend on their natural resources for day to day survival, have more to lose from our changing climate than those in the industrialized nations. It is ok to sit back and not be phased by it if you are not sensing the change that is already evident around us. But to those youth of South Asia, where more than a billion people depend on an increasingly erratic monsoon and where the lives of hundreds of millions depends directly on waters sourced from the retreating glaciers of the Himalayas, we must arise to address this looming crisis of global proportions and unimaginable local implications.

When I embarked on my journey to Bali this last December with the US youth delegation (yes, youth representatives of the world’s largest emitter of green house gases), I was looking forward to bridging the voices of youth from the global North with those of the global South. Being an Indian citizen, it was a rather unique opportunity to be in the middle of one of the biggest road-blocks to the success of the negotiations: the as of yet irreconcilable US vs. rapidly industrializing country view on the “common but differentiated responsibility” for mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions. Unfortunately, I found myself to be the only Indian youth present (and one of only a few from all of South Asia) at the historic talks which were supposed to define how negotiations would take shape in the post 2012 world. With this in mind, I helped form an Asian Youth Caucus on the sidelines of the informal “International Youth Delegation” which was dominated by well organized and well informed youth from Canada, Australia and the United States. In an effort to get increased participation from youth from the global South and give a more holistic angle to the youth perspective, it was apparent that we would need an unofficial Asian youth caucus which would help us share stories and ideas in the Asian context. Being the only Indian youth—I aimed to bring in the stories of and plug in the voices of youth from South Asia in this pan-Asian network.

The start of the conference was filled with high energy and high hopes—all of which turned into frustration in the second week. Recent polls in the US have revealed that approximately 80% of the population would now like to see firm action on climate change. Within the last year we saw major youth movements across the US in the form of the “Step It Up” campaign, and more recently, the largest public gathering on climate change, “Power Shift,” which saw nearly 6,000 youth from nearly every congressional district in the US converge on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. Why then one would ask, is there a disconnect between the current administration and what the majority of Americans really want? The US negotiators in Bali asked of us whether we had the votes within the US to demand of them to make stronger commitment at the international negotiations (because it is the administration in power that dictates international policy). Thus the goal of our delegation was clear: go back to the US and mobilize the masses to take action at the polls—which we hope will happen in the coming elections. Regardless of the outcome, it is clear that change will only come with the spreading of awareness.

Meanwhile my interaction with the Indian officials can be summed up by sharing one simple interaction: upon my telling one of the negotiators that I was an Indian youth representative, he simply replied, “the youth? . . . Shouldn’t they have the same views as their elders?” This is one of the fundamental problems right now. The problem of climate change is so complex that politicians must realize that it goes well beyond the games they play. Its ecological implications are so far reaching that it is a problem that will cross-cut generations and be magnified for our generation. Youth of India, a young nation, must have their voices heard by politicians who are debating our very future. A nation at the cross-roads, while we must demand climate equity at an international level, we must also demand that we do not go down the pathway of the industrialized nations before we too find ourselves in a hydrocarbon trap.

Asian Youth Caucus, UN Climate Change Talks, Bali, IndonesiaSo where do we begin? There is hardly any debate amongst us youth here in India right now regarding climate change. Yet there are signs of the change all around us. Go to the rural areas and ask the struggling farmers whether they have noticed a change in the weather patterns within the past 10 or more years and the answer is always yes. Look to your cities—are they too choked with fumes from the growing number of cars in the back drop of a rapidly expanding concrete jungle with decreasing green cover? Make the connections and see where our country is headed. Some will argue of poverty and education being bigger priorities for our growing nation. Others will point at the US and the industrialized nations claiming they should take action, not us. While this is true, won’t our abject poverty make us even more vulnerable to the changing climate? Do we sit by and watch our own house burn? Shouldn’t we as Indians redefine the concept of “development” which we always associate with the West? Where do we begin? Perhaps we should start by discussing it in an Indian context and eventually establish an “Indian Youth Charter on Climate Change.” I hope that this all too important dialog will begin before it is too late.

Before the Bali conference, I never dreamed that a process on which the world’s fate rests so heavily could be so complicated and so cumbersome to the point that all sense of urgency is lost in the labyrinthine process itself. I have never been so disappointed with the international political process. We did leave Bali with a victory of sorts with the US conceding to the need for deep emissions cuts. The youth present at the conference had made a stand in the final hours of the harrowing debate and we believe that our voices were heard. It is with this hope and our attempts to get official stake holder status with the UNFCCC (Framework Convention on Climate Change) that I am more determined now than ever before to become a part of this dialog and to make change happen from the bottom up. As youth from India, a country whose role in the process is becoming increasingly apparent, we must make our voices and our presence felt not just at the national but international level. Climate change is the biggest challenge any generation has had to face in the history of the planet and how we address it will define the fate of all humanity. Who then is ready to take up this climate challenge?