The climate talks finished, and reporters from news channels were found wandering around streets of Paris with expressions that begged what did I miss, did any of you see something that I should have seen, what is the big news? For all the hype that the talks generated, in the end it was like an old, damp, bad quality Chinese Diwali cracker that would hiss, splutter and then quietly close its eyes and die in a corner out of embarrassment without anyone noticing.
Most of the outcomes of climate change were on the table even before the talks started, and it was fairly certain that no one was going to throw a bombshell. India was certainly well behaved as the diplomatic harsh lights were shone in our eyes by some smart Chanakya’s ensuring we did not upset the Western apple cart. So the talks overall passed like a quiet ship in the dark seas, the drone of its engine being some murmurs of ‘developed nations were short changed with lack of adequate financial and technological support’ which everyone ignored, like the crackle of a chips packet in the movie theater.
While governments have signed and sealed the agreement, there is much work to be done.
They should now achieve clarity in their thinking and prepare for adaptation, as the big storms are coming. They need to prepare their countries for the bigger climate events that are going to occur. Chennai was a classic example of what governments should not have done. Allowing construction in catchments, lakes and marshes was a huge mistake in urban planning. So now what do you do? You can’t bring down all the new buildings because citizens have paid their life savings for an apartment that they did not know was built on a marshland, they should not be punished. Can you punish the politicians now? So what do you do? Just start re planning how you are going to cope when the next down pour comes. Ensure you build more storm water drains, ensure that the drains you have already have are cleared of debris, ensure you have a decentralised disaster management system for releasing water from lakes that are getting filled up during a downpour, etc.
They also need to enact legislation to help in mitigation efforts. Most of the efforts here are going to be in the space of preventing emission of green house gasses. Governments need to start setting up utility level solar and wind mill generation plants. They should start developing incentives for citizens to install roof top solar like it has been done in states like Karnataka. They should find the political courage to pass legislation restricting emissions from vehicles so that we do not have a Delhi like situation where the HC declared that living in Delhi is like living in a gas chamber!
Lots for the governments to do. Let them do what they have to do or may not do.
I was particularly happy when I read the 31 page declaration that was signed by the 195 countries in Paris, as I saw the opportunity to take on more responsibilities for my planet. Taking on responsibility expands you said a guru. I believe this, as I feel bigger when I take on more responsibilities. Being self centered shrinks you, as you are only thinking about yourself, your family, your kids, your neighbours. We need to become more world centric from being just ethno centric. This is not just to feel big and good, but we have no choice! So much damage has already been done to the planet, that it now requires efforts from all of us.
I am referring to the opportunity for the private sector, civil society and NGO’s, to do what they have to do to help the planet, while also helping their governments. Article 6, point 4b of the climate change document from Paris urges all countries ‘To incentivize and facilitate participation in the mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions by public and private entities authorized by a Party and to contribute to the reduction of emission’. This means, all of us need to contribute, and not just the governments. The private sector, civil society and NGO’s have energies that no government can match. Its enterprise and creative thinking abilities is what the planet needs now. In the end it is our lives and the lives of our children and grand children that are at stake. Here is our chance to come up with crazy ways to save the planet!
I for one am all up for the challenge and have already identified what all I am going to do. I have identified projects that I am going to do to save the planet. Ok, I can’t save the plant on my own, but I am definitely going to try! I have thought up of some projects that will help in climate change mitigation efforts-to help reduce green house gas emissions in a variety of ways for India and for the world. These are detailed in www.GreenDreams.Vision.
But all of us citizens, private sector citizens, civil society folks, NGO’s will all now have to do our bit to move this huge ship along to its destinations. Destiny has thrown all of us together onto this planet, and now we all need to hold each others hands and do this together.
I say this because governments cannot do it all on. Most actions of governments are based on their own vested interests, interests of lobbies, political compulsions etc. They last 4 to 8 years and then they go. It is only us as citizens with our own work places, and businesses and civil society friends and committed NGO’s who have to take on tasks.
So here is what I think all of us need to do as watch dogs, ensuring governments do what they promised to do;
1) Ensure that governments keep their focus on adaptation measures. Push them to ensure that our local infrastructure is up to the mark to withstand extreme weather events – droughts and massive downpours.
2) Encourage aforestation efforts where ever possible, as we need to develop larger carbon sinks to absorb the CO2 we are emitting.
3) Encourage governments to pass legislation to reduce green house gas emissions. It may be to restrict number of vehicles n the road to motivate specific industries to switch from diesel generators to roof top solar for electricity.
4) Provide the environment for the private sector to invest in utility scale solar farms so that the state slowly but surely starts the journey of moving away from fossil fuels to renewable energy.
This will go a long way to ensuring that the promises made in Paris are kept alive. We need to have watchful eyes to monitor, willing hands to work, and large hearts to ensure we do the best for our own planet earth!