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May 13, 2009 / zanzi

Day Seven-Eight

Day Seven, Monday the 11th of May, began with a dialogue on climate change, one of the three themes that working groups are focussing on. The resource persons included Chirantana Kar from EPTRI, N Kalidas from ISWREB, Sunil Thakur and Onkar Nath from GTZ, Sangeet Srivastava from TERI and Kartikeya Singh from IYCN. A fishbowl format was followed, keeping one chair free for any of the participants to intervene during the course of the discussion as it unfolded along the lines indicated by a set of leading questions.

The leading questions asked whether one was contributing to or degrading the environment at an individual and institutional level, whether growth and lowered carbon emissions could be reconciled with a green economy, what the role of clean development mechanism and agro-fuels could be and how knowledge could be built on climate issues.

The opening statement was the latest point raised by a World Bank stating that poverty eradication could not occur in India without a resultant 3.5 times increase from 2007 emission levels by 2031 following business-as-usual (BAU), which could be minimized to 2.7 times at best. In response, the panel gave an overview of activities of their home institutions. This included comments on the feasibility of advanced technology, the need for awareness and capacity building with respect to CDM, the revenue potential for municipal composting as part of solid waste management, the need to downscale climate change impact studies to the district level in order to better policy, the decentralized use of renewable energy (RE), the role of networks and the triple bottom-line of people, planet and profit. Several specific topics were explored and the suggestions that came up are selectively documented below.

Mechanisms for segregating waste to be implemented from the top official down to people’s participation must be identified rather than left to the chance interest of a bureaucrat. In the context of CDM, technology dumping must be prevented and leapfrogging must be enabled. In developing nations, decentralized rural technological changes have a relatively smaller role than mass urban changes. Developed nations are not using only the latest technologies in an integrated manner due to policy loopholes and these need to be addressed. CDM must be prevented from becoming a way of sidestepping problems at home in favour of cheap ways out abroad.

Bio-fuels, rather than being a transport solution, run the danger of being cropped in fertile lands, and this problem can be circumvented by using them as decentralized rural fuels for micro-grid electricity or small motor operation by farmers, but this runs counter to practices that favour corporate interests in general. Potential problems with carbon credits need to be ironed out in order to safeguard against their unintended misuse. Problem areas include carbon emission reduction (CERs) trading only in certain regulated areas, the lack of laws commoditizing CERs, the lack of small-scale equity investment available, and certain accounting limitations and a weak legal regulatory environment in the context of implementation. While voluntary mechanisms are in place, regulatory and market mechanisms sometimes seem to be confuted and this is troublesome for accountability. Bundling mechanisms for farmers through special purpose vehicles (SPVs) and a carbon tax are of interest as well.

The topic of global environmental governance was brought up and discussed at length. The role of UNFCCC and State governments, the question of scale and representation, and within this accountability, ‘subsidiarity’ and good communication practices were discussed. How well or otherwise Agenda 21 is implemented is a good indicator of how much these are functional, and it is seen that only a handful of the 190+ UN member-signatories are achieving anything similar in practice. This signals decay. A set of “bouncing elements” was developed in this context, which interlink with each other. Politics, local governance, planning, policies, the built environment, energy management in RE and transport, gender, the absence of an up-to-date concept of urbanism, all contribute to the lack of a transnational network that links up with global environmental governance. Why this is so was discussed.

The solutions emerging included the need for a long-term perspective for sustainable development, the importance of building and sharing knowledge, of raising awareness through education, and of learning from both best and worst practices. Lifestyle choices were looked into, and a connection between traditional and technical knowledge seen as desirable, as well as effective translation of knowledge. Local and global participation, the creation of networks, capacity building, interlinking departments working on environmental issues, the conjoined promotion of IT as well as ET (environmental technology) and the utilization of green technology across levels complete the solutions that came up.


One Comment

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  1. S.P. / May 14 2009 2:44 am

    “sustainable development” new and old companies and the goverment is paying attention more to sustainable society and protecting environment. There is a bank called they are establishing this new bank just based on this approach, you can get involved too, by investing your money in these kind of companies and support this.

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