One of the biggest terror attacks on France could not deter a truly historical event – the Paris Climate Summit. France has set an example. Nations and governments cannot be intimidated by terror – determination and resolve to deal with the toughest of situations is the real power of the free and civilized world!
Has the resolve of the French government influenced the minds of people in the Climate summit? Maybe, maybe not. However, the representatives from nearly 200 countries, 15 years after the unsuccessful Kyoto summit, did not go back empty handed this time. Most of them took active roles, contributed and committed something to address the vulnerabilities of climate change. Skeptics may not be satisfied enough, however 13 days of exchanges and staying together for a common goal in itself was an achievement. Details are to be analyzed by the pundits and we shall see the progress report in 5 years.
What was India’s role in it? There was a report that “India’s PM Modi stole the show”. But how did India prefigure in the final round? PM Modi and Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar started the conversation by putting forth the real deal – ‘Climate Justice’. Nations that abused nature uncontrollably for many decades do have an obligation to recuperate and replenish. That message reverberated throughout the conference since India lead that conversation on behalf of the developing nations as well as the nations facing immediate threat of being submerged due to a rise of ocean water. The US and other developed nations pushed back on their responsibilities. But through the leadership of India, equity and justice has found place in the agreement as “common but differentiated responsibilities”.
The second important message was the ‘lifestyle’ of people. It is a well-known fact that some countries like the US consume natural resources disproportionately compared to rest of the world. Developed nations have major share of responsibilities for carbon emissions. Consuming fossil fuel is only part of the story, but now the world is slowly realizing that the cattle industry has a larger share of the carbon footprint than our vehicles and factories. Hollywood star and former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger passionately urged people to seek alternative sources of protein and avoid eating meat in order to save the planet, he told BBC: “Twenty-eight per cent of the greenhouse gases come from eating meat and from raising cattle, so we can do a much better job.”
I wish India could add this to the final resolution specifically, but it was able to put ‘Sustainable Lifestyle and Consumption’ as a necessity, which is perhaps the beginning of a discourse for the world. It will require wide-spread awareness and education campaigns for people to change their lifestyle, not a job just for the government, but also for social organizations, and global citizens will have to play a major role.
PM Modi also has successfully launched a global solar alliance of 120 countries to collaborate and share new technologies and investments – not a simple achievement.
In the meantime, in order to give electricity to all Indians by 2019, India will have to use lot more coal which will add to greenhouse gases. However, India has taken major initiatives to move towards renewable very soon. If that is achieved, then in long run, the environment will be safer. It will be even safer if the global cattle industry is curtailed. China eventually was compelled to come forward after initial sluggishness. It will be only good for the entire world if China and India with their enormous populations can provide cleaner energy along with cleaner air, water and soil to their citizens.
Agreements will have no meaning unless governments actively execute their responsibilities. Developing nations will need technology and financial resources to move towards clean energy. However, the, intellectual property rights issues need to be addressed more definitively to ensure not just cooperation in technology, but transferability as well.
Although India has made some significant commitments, it will have to overcome some huge challenges to meet the goals back home. For renewable – space and location for solar and wind farms will not be easy to find without disturbing nature and human habitats. Increasing forest cover will be a challenge too. Technology along with strict policy implementation and people’s cooperation will be critical for success.
Other important news is that dozens of environmental groups, farmers, and sustainable food organizations came together at the COP21 Paris to announce that Monsanto will face an international tribunal over crimes against humanity and the environment. The groups expressed that Monsanto is a major contributor to anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions, the depletion of soil and water resources, declining biodiversity, species extinction, and the displacement of millions of small farmers worldwide.
Finally, to prevent an increase of greenhouse gases to achieve the current target of keeping the global temperature increase below 2 degrees Celsius before 2100 there are a few immediate actions that need to be taken up by the government and people of the world together: find ways not to cut trees, plant trees, reduce usage of private vehicles, reduce consumption of meat for the health of the planet. And also, we need new technologies to convert CO2 and Methane to a less volatile gas from the atmosphere through engineering by our scientists. All these missions pose a challenge to the global scientific community, Governments, the business communities and you and I, the people.
President Obama who also has shown leadership in this summit despite his domestic challenges called PM Modi noting his positive role and leadership said: “India played a critical role in climate change to make the Paris summit a historic success”. Saluer (salute) to Paris and abhinandan (congratulations) to Delhi!
Let us all hope for the best and act individually to see that we also play our critical roles. After all, Indian sages (Yajur Veda 36:17) gave this mantra to the world:
Aum dyauḥ śāntirantarikṣaṁ śāntiḥ
pṛthivī śāntirāpaḥ śāntiroṣadhayaḥ śāntiḥ
vanaspatayaḥ śāntirviśvedevāḥ śāntirbrahma śāntiḥ
sarvaṁ śāntiḥ śāntireva śāntiḥ
sā mā śāntiredhi
Aum śāntiḥ, śāntiḥ, śāntiḥ
May peace radiate there in the whole sky as well as in the vast ethereal space everywhere.
May peace reign all over this earth, in water and in all herbs, trees and creepers.
May peace flow over the whole universe.
May peace be in the Supreme Being Brahman.
And may there always exist in all peace and peace alone.
Aum peace, peace and peace to us and all beings!