Saturday, September 12, 2009

Climate change, people and policy

The decisions that world leaders, will make in Copenhagen, in December 2009, will be some of the most important that world will take for years to come. They are not only important for curbing climate change all over the world but are vital for security and sustainable development that South Asia hopes to achieve.
Climate change holds great significance for millions in south Asia. Flooding of the Kosi river has left millions homeless in Bihar and Nepal, cyclones such as the Nargis have displaced millions more in Burma, Bangladesh, and West Bengal, heavy rain storms have caused disastrous landslides all over the Himalayan range. And now a weakening monsoon and the drought like situation has caused thousands of farmers to commit suicide. Although none of these natural disasters can be directly linked to climate change the impact that global warming has on natural weather phenomena is undeniable. [1]
The most vulnerable to natural disasters are the poor who have had almost no hand to play in contributing to this intensifying problem and who have born the brunt, weather it be in death or in facing un-imaginable poverty.
The poor must be kept in the fore front of any policy making or deals that governments might strike internationally. The so far muted voices of the poor must be heard, only a co-operating world can see substantial change in the climate as well as living standers of millions of people.
India is contributing important steps towards reversal of this calamitous situation. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has already set up the National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC), eight missions forming its core.
(I) National Solar Plan (II) National Mission on Enhanced Energy Efficiency (III) National Mission on Sustainable Habitat (IV) National Water Mission (V) National Mission for Sustaining the Himalayan Eco-System (VI) National Mission for a Green India (VII) National Mission for a sustainable Agriculture and (VIII) National Mission on strategic knowledge for climate change.
Of these eight missions, the first two, the National Solar Mission and the National Mission for Enhanced Energy Efficiency are ready for implementation after deliberation by the Prime Ministers council on climate change.
For the remaining six mission comities involving different ministries have been set up, under the co-ordination of the Prime Ministers office. These comities include trained professionals and technical groups that have worked towards and prepared mission documents for each mission. Each mission has initiated research in its own field to be better equipped to handle the specific problems and deliver relevant solutions.
A more concrete example of implementing a sustainable plan is the government’s endeavors in the field of transport, identified as a major guzzler of energy producing pollution and heat.
In this regard the government is trying to promote the use of public transport and limit private vehicle use.
Apart from strengthening its policies within India, which include steps to increase the use of renewable energy and increase forest cover, India has taken various international decisions such as in July this year, world leaders including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh agreed to strive to keep global temperature rise within a two degree threshold.
A combined effort is needed, the world community has to come together to safe guard the futures of nations.
The world community also has to realize a statistical division of responsibility is not going to work, a developed nation with a population of 5.3 million (Finland) can not have similar carbon emissions to a developing country like India which is larger is size and has a much higher population.
Having said that, India must realize that following the western model of development is potentially disastrous. Not only do we have to reverse this catastrophic damage, we have to find new ways of equitable sustainable development. A stand India must take with the international community in Copenhagen later this year.
References:
1. The Hindu – dated August 31st 2009, climate change and development.
Ed Miliband and Douglas Alexander.
2 Economic and political weekly- dated August 8th-14th 2009, exploring
climate regimes by Lavanya Rajmani
K. Ammu Sanyal
B.A. (Hons.) History; III year

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