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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Importance of Education & Involvement of Youth in Climate Dialogue

Indian Youth Climate Network Policy Brief on Article 6 of UNFCCC

Climate change and its impacts would severely test the capacities of nations to curb the instances of loss and damage, and also of communities to continue to adapt to unpredictable and rapidly changing weather patterns. Thus, to prepare for a world that is dealing with climate change, capacities of the nations, vulnerable communities, youth, and individuals need to be enhanced. Role of education and training for developing both mitigation and adaptation action will become significant as the world tries to develop resilient, equitable and just systems.

Article 6 of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change address this need and stipulates the promotion of education, training and public awareness on climate change. It defines activities under two sections in six priority areas, and lays emphasis on the participation at all levels and of all stakeholders in the climate change process.

Firstly it instructs the parties at national and regional levels to, ‘Promote and facilitate at the national and, as appropriate, sub-regional and regional levels, and in accordance with national laws and regulations, and within their respective capacities:

  • The development and implementation of educational and public awareness programmes on climate change and its effects;
  • Public access to information on climate change and its effects;
  • Public participation in addressing climate change and its effects and developing adequate responses; and
  • Training of scientific, technical and managerial personnel.

Secondly, it emphasizes the need for international cooperation and promotion to:

  • The development and exchange of educational and public awareness material on climate change and its effects; and
  • The development and implementation of education and training programmes, including the strengthening of national institutions and the exchange of personnel to train experts in this field, in particular for developing countries.’

Article 6 delineates in detail the commitment of the Parties to UNFCCC as outlined in Article 4,  which, on the basis of CBDR (Common but Differentiated Responsibilities) underlines, ‘the need for promotion and cooperation on matter related to climate change education, training and public awareness.’ Article 4 also explicitly states that Parties ensure wide participation of the people including that of non-governmental organizations.

Article 6 can provide necessary impetus to the countries to develop and implement programmes that will educate their populations about climate change and how it will affect various sectors and constituencies. It, along with Article 5  (research and systematic observation), provides the blueprint for developing adequate responses on dealing with climate change, its prevention, along with disaster management and relief in the event of loss and damage.

Important Landmarks

New Delhi Work Programme: At the COP-8 in New Delhi, the New Delhi Work Programme (NDWP) was launched as an elaboration of Article 6 for better understanding and implementation of the different provisions of the Article in Decision 11/CP.8. NDWP was a five-year country-driven programme aimed at engaging all stakeholders in the implementation of Article 6 as well as in seeking recommendation on the activities that could be undertaken to meet the commitments under the Article.  NDWP’s mandate came to an end in 2007 with participation being its primary focus.

Amended New Delhi Work Programme (ANDWP): In 2007 at COP 13 in Bali, parties recognized NWDP was a good framework for action on Article 6 and a decision was reached to adopt amended New Delhi Work Programme (ANDWP) for another five years. (decision 9/CP.13). It was recognized that implementation of Article 6 was a long term process where national efforts need to be supported. In this regard, actions towards strengthening regional and sub-regional cooperation became important elements of the programme. It was extended for another five years with a scheduled review in 2012. The focus of the programme was public awareness, public participation and public access to information. Implementation of the stipulations was to be considered by the National Focal Points (NFP’s) with consideration for each country’s specific conditions and characteristics.

In 2010 at COP 16 in Cancun, an intermediate review on Article 6 was undertaken by parties to identify gaps in implementation and outline best practices and recommendations on improving the actions that need to taken. Parties to the UNFCCC and civil society organisations submitted their recommendations at Cancun. The Cancun mandate was thus to assess the, “progress in, and ways to enhance, the implementation of the amended New Delhi work programme on Article 6 of the Convention”.  Decision at Cancun recognized women, youth, indigenous and civil society groups as vital stakeholders, non-formal education and informal education as important part of educational training and public awareness. It also urged the Global Environment Facility (GEF) to increase access to funding for Article 6 related activities. Inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations were also encouraged to enhance efforts and share information on their respective activities on the information network clearing house CC:iNet of UNFCCC.

Doha Work Programme: At COP 18 in Doha in 2012, the COP adopted decision 15/CP.18 on eight-year Doha Work Programme. It was also decided to undertake a review of DWP in 2020 and an intermediate review of progress in 2016.  GEF was requested to provide continued financial resources to non-Annex I parties i.e. developing countries and least-developed countries for implementation of the article. All parties were asked to communicate actions taken and experiences on work programme for the 2016 and 2020 reviews. An annual in-session dialogue on Article 6 implementation was agreed to be organized under Subsidiary Body of Implementation (SBI).

Youth Intervention and participation: Article 6 provides youth along with women, indigenous group with an opportunity to intervene directly in policy and implementation process. The Youth Non-Government Organisations (YOUNGO), acting as the hub of the youth constituency, have a YOUNGO Article 6 Working Group that came out with ‘Enhanced Youth Participation and Education in Climate Change- The Article 6 Implementation Toolkit’ during COP 17 in 2011, Durban. The toolkit was made available at the CC:iNET and is an important contribution towards understanding the implications and stakes for youth in the process by way of the Article 6.

As observers and parts of the movements connected with grassroots, youth have been important agents in strengthening and democratizing the process under article 6. Their reflection on the representation of different groups and constituencies reflect a deeper understanding of the politics of climate negotiations. At the inter-sessional in Bonn, June 2014 at SBSTA-40 meeting, the youth highlighted the need for continued discussion and focus on Article 6 of the Convention, in particular on public participation. Thereby, they asked to enhance participation of the observers[1] and noted the under-representation of the youth from the global south at the negotiations.[2]

Significance and the Way Forward: The scope of interpretation of Article 6 is very large can help mainstream climate concerns as well as its complex inter-linkages with other environmental issues – like water availability, droughts, floods, food availability, livelihood questions- into national curriculum to prepare climate-resilient societies with necessary skills and capabilities to augment disaster preparedness and adaptation strategies.

It has the potential to create a more informed national and global community that better appreciates the challenges related to climate change. Education, training and public awareness create a much informed citizenry that can critically assess and feed into the developmental policy-making and implementation of actions on adaptation and mitigation.

Education and training can enable youth as agents to become empowered and assess governmental planning and implementation of actions (mitigation, adaptation, developmental) on youth and other vulnerable and marginalised groups. Through this, developmental and growth policy across the world can be subjected to greater scrutiny and decision makers reminded of precautionary principle when proceeding on important issues. Transformation to a world weaned off from fossil-fuels will need leadership and action by youth on matters of science, ecology and environment. Mainstreaming of environmental concerns into developmental policy will need trained and skilled people. Article 6 and youth involvement together can address this emerging urgent need.

Prepared by Reva Prakash after consultation with Indian Youth Climate Network members.

[1] Earth Negotiations Bulletin, Vol. 12 No. 598: pp6.

[2] Ibid, pp12.


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Strengthen CTCN, Encourage Energy Efficiency & Renewables, Involve Communities

Indian Youth Climate Network Policy Brief on Technology Transfer under UNFCCC

Background & Current Status:The world economy at large is still dependent on carbon intensive sources of energy. There are significant steps undertaken by many developed countries to move from carbon intensive sources to renewable sources. But there is lot left to do. The development trajectory followed the west after the industrial revolution can no longer be a safe pathway for developing countries to move on. Poverty, low access to financial services and political instability have kept many developing countries in the fossil fuel based carbon trap. Thisformed the backdrop for the adoption of Article 4.5 in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) that refers to commitment on the issue of transfer technology to help poor countries leapfrog to a less carbon intensive future. The article states

“The developed country Parties and other developed Parties included in Annex II shall take all practicable steps to promote, facilitate and finance, as appropriate, the transfer of, or access to, environmentally sound technologies and knowhow to other Parties, particularly developing country Parties, to enable them to implement the provisions of the Convention. In this process, the developed country Parties shall support the development and enhancement of endogenous capacities and technologies of developing country Parties. Other Parties and organizations in a position to do so may also assist in facilitating the transfer of such technologies.”

Technology Transfer in UNFCCC has been one of the most contested issues as it involves added financial costs for developed countries to help developing countries leapfrog. There are additional concerns over “Intellectual Property Rights” that are currently under the rubric of “World Trade Organization” and not the UNFCCC that impede work under article 4.5. Some of these obstacles were addressed in COP 7 in Marrakesh, resulting in an accord, which had Technology needs assessment, technology information, enabling environments and capacity building as its four pillars.  These are described below -

Technology needs assessment: “Technology Needs Assessments (TNAs) are a set of country-driven activities that identify and determine the mitigation and adaptation technology priorities of Parties other than developed country Parties, and other developed Parties not included in Annex II, particularly developing country Parties.”

Technology information: “The technology information component of the framework defines the means, including hardware, software and networking, to facilitate the flow of information between the different stakeholders to enhance the development and transfer of environmentally sound technologies.”

Enabling environments: “This component of the framework focuses on government actions, such as fair trade policies, removal of technical, legal and administrative barriers to technology transfer, sound economic policy, regulatory frameworks and transparency, all of which create an environment conducive to private and public sector technology transfer.”

Capacity Building: The capacity building component is a process which seeks to build, develop, strengthen, enhance and improve existing scientific and technical skills, capabilities and institutions in Parties other than developed country Parties, and other developed Parties not included in Annex II, particularly developing country Parties, to enable them to assess, adapt, manage and develop environmentally sound technologies.”

These components were expanded in the Cancun Agreement in COP 16 and termed Technology Mechanism, “fostering public-private partnerships; promoting innovation; catalyzing the use of technology road maps or action plans; responding to developing country party requests on matters related to technology transfer; and facilitating joint R&D activities.”

The Technology mechanism consists of Technology Executive Committee (TEC) and Climate Technology Center and Network (CTCN).  The Technology executive committee that worked on the technology mechanism, formulated a report based on the needs of 31 parties who submitted their application including Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Bhutan from South Asia. In order to compile the report, the existing frameworks of the parties were studied, sectors were prioritized for adaptation and mitigation and barriers were identified. Following this recommendations for technology action plans were prepared and submitted for consideration to the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice in 2013. This has been a good starting point with more parties sending their requests to become the beneficiaries of the technology mechanism in subsequent months.

Last year in Warsaw, COP 19, parties finalized the modalities of Climate Technology Center & Network and its advisory board resulting in streamlining of submissions from National Designated Entities on the issue.

The Road Ahead

Mandate to TEC to provide guidance on CTCN priorities:  The work of CTCN is seen as a developing country driven process, but fact remains that there is no adequate mechanism by which developing countries can voice their collective requests.  The TM needs to adopt and request prioritization procedures that are based on the ADP’s understanding of equity, and how it is measured, to create an “equitable distribution” of the resources of the CTCN.

Long term funding for TEC and CTCN: Long term financing of technologies is must for making Technology Mechanism work. There have been contributions from Indonesia, Netherlands, United States and others under Global Climate Finance that are most welcome. However,developed countries need to mobilize more resources to reach the specified targets. Voluntary commitments from developing countries for climate financing should be encouraged. Private funding can and should be mobilized as private enterprises have a large role to play in the TM. However, there is a note of caution with private funding. It will come with its own set of strings which may hamper the agenda of TEC & CTCN orienting it towards certain interests.Therefore, the core funding for the decision making part of the TM, the TEC and the Climate Technology Centre and its Advisory Board should be supported in the long term through public funding.

The framework of CTCN is sound but there has to be enhanced emphasis on including transfer of knowledge, technology and skills for energy efficiency and renewable energy. This will help developing countries to diversify their energy portfolio, thereby reducing their dependence on coal.  Many countries like India & China are already moving in that direction. Setting up CTCN at regional levels could then be the next step.

Application of Precautionary Principle: CTCN should also have a mandate to ensure that the socio-environment impact of all environmentally sound technologies is studied thoroughly. There are many technologies that may seem less carbon intensive but can have high ecological, economic and health costs. Funding to such technologies should be refrained.

Stakeholder identification and community participation in decision making on technology assessment and action plan should be made compulsory. The methodology for stakeholder identification and participants should be evolved and adapted to varying local conditions of countries. It is important to ensure the participation of youth, women, indigenous peoples and local communities and other marginalized groups as stakeholders in the process.  Inputs collected should be presented by the national designated entities while filing the request. Any opposition from the communities should also be recorded for consideration. Technology Transfer should be done in an inclusive way and the goals of poverty alleviation intertwined with it. More Green jobs for youth, skill building of the poor and marginalized groups on priority basis should be encouraged.

Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) norms should be revisited for ensuring that past mistakes of funding “efficient but still carbon intensive technologies” are not repeated. For technology transfer non-market based approaches should also be identified, which currently is considered as anti-thesis of innovation in technology.

Stronger engagement with other conventions and agreements: International and other national Patent Rights norms of developed countries can be a hurdle and obstacle in technology transfer. Parties should be encouraged to remove those barriers for accessing the resources. If possible, creating a common pool of technologies and best practices should be evolved for the benefit of the commons.

Youth has an important role to play. With their energies and risk taking abilities they can take charge of innovating and adapting shared technologies, marketing them at affordable prices thereby creating more green jobs and better growth model.

Prepared by Kabir Arora after consultation with Indian Youth Climate Network members.


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Time for India to step out of the Climate Shadow

Riddhima Yadav*

The announcement last week by the United States and China of a deal setting limits on greenhouse gases has set the ball rolling for the UN climate talks at Lima next week. But it has also done something long overdue – turned the spotlight on India. India has been under some pressure from the US and EU in the run up to the Peru talks to revise its INDCs (intended nationally determined contributions), which would push the country to further reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. However, India’s long-held position is that it will not sacrifice eradicating poverty to limit carbon emissions. In the words of Environment minister Prakash Javadekar, “Poverty is India’s greatest environmental challenge.”

But is this really an excuse? Not really, according to several climate campaigners and experts. “Energy poverty is no longer a justification for coal expansion,” said Ashish Fernandes of Greenpeace India. In the last five years alone, India increased its coal power capacity by 73 percent. To fuel the new plants, India plans to double domestic coal production to one billion tons a year by 2019, and boost imports, notably from Australia. Pollution from India’s coal plants — largely unregulated and unmonitored — kills up to 115,000 Indians a year, and costs India’s economy as much as $4.6 billion. India’s air is among the world’s dirtiest.

India, the world’s third highest emitter of greenhouse gases has long been hiding in the shadows of Chinese climate policies. Indian delegates have long been ardent defenders of the principle of “common but differentiated responsibility” – the concept that the burden of emissions reductions and financial assistance on climate change for poor countries belongs to developed countries, who have a historical responsibility.The concept has often hampered global climate negotiations, especially as some developing countries became emerging economies.Jairam Ramesh, India’s former environment minister and chief negotiator, believes it is time to rethink that approach.”Differentiation is essential but is this distinction made in a completely different era over two decades back still meaningful? Simply put, it is not,” he said.

Maybe that is why, sensing the change in global sentiment on climate change strategies, Prime Minister Modi recast the almost defunct Prime Minister’s council on climate change, seeking to reinvigorate the body ahead of a pivotal year for global talks. The council, which was set up in 2006 under the erstwhile UPA government, had not met in the past three years due to differences in the government ranks over climate policy. Aware of the global expectations, the Modi-government has also commissioned a study to assess India’s current greenhouse gas emissions trajectory, the results of which will be out by December. These results, along with the internal assessments of the government, will be used to prepare India’s new voluntary targets to the international community under the new pact to be signed in 2015. Furthermore, this has been followed up by an announcement on renewable energyIndia has indicated it aimed to increase the share of renewables to at least 15 per cent of its total energy usage, up from 6 per cent currently. India also hopes to bring in nearly USD$100 billion investment in renewable energy projects and install 100GW of solar capacity.

It remains to be seen whether this announcement will be followed through with concrete action – the long standing issue with a majority of climate committments. In the run up to Paris, pressure is now building on india to take a clear stance at the UN Climate talks. The negotiations next week will be intently watched to see what India comes up with!

*Riddhima Yadav is a member of Indian Youth Climate Network


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Youth can change the climate change discourse

by Ram Kishan*

Climate change mitigation, adaptation and loss and damage have become hot topics, and also one of the areas of focus for most environmental based institutions. It concerns everyone but even more the youth because future of climate change forecast by IPCC looks alarming. This is why it is especially important that youth continue to be actively involved in shaping the future. 

The Indian Youth Climate Network (IYCN) is a network of young people in 18 states uniting people who are concerned about climate change and environmental issues. The purpose of IYCN is to bring the voice of Indian youth to the global platform, as South Asia is one of the most vulnerable regions to be affected by climate change.

COP-13 in Bali highlighted the lack of youth voices from India. As a result, the Indian Youth Climate Network (IYCN) was born with a view that the voice of Indian youth needs to be strengthened by empowering an Indian Youth Delegation to the UNFCCC Conference of Parties (COP). IYCN is hence working to empower Indian Youth to have a stronger voice at the UNFCCC COP negotiations through its Agents of Change programme.  The programme involved:  training a selected number of young people from all parts of India on climate policy; providing them with a platform to communicate regularly with the Indian parliamentarians to share their ideas, opinions and stance about climate policy in the months ahead of the COP20.

COP20 will lay the groundwork for the future of international policy on climate change, and youth must make their voices heard. Youth from across the globe will come together to bring a sense of urgency and rationality to the meeting.

Climate change is a significant and lasting change in the statistical distribution of weather patterns over periods ranging from decades to millions of years. Climate change has been there, is here and will always be there! It is part of us! Climate change is a result of greenhouse effect which is a process by which thermal radiation from a planetary surface is absorbed by atmospheric greenhouse gases i.e. CO2, and is re-radiated in all directions leading to global warming.

But wait a minute, temperatures are increasing at a very abnormal rate and since some species are unable to adapt to the temperature rise they are slowly adding pages to the extinct species record book. Anthropogenic activities are the primary causes of global warming including burning of fossil fuels, deforestation, landfills, burning of grass. Name them!

Although everything moves along, we hope the rumor is wrong: That Mother Nature Goes to Heaven. Right, you never got it wrong, it always got away! Can one person help stop global climate change? Yes! Especially when the simple steps you, your friends, and your family take are multiplied by millions of people all over the world. It’s the simple things that we do which make a difference.

  • Switching to clean energy, reducing waste, using less energy, travel green i.e. walk, bike, skateboard, rollerblade, or take a bus to school, plant a tree, spread the word.
  • Give a presentation to your family, school, or community group that explains how their actions can cause or reduce climate change. That’s easy!

We cannot do nothing and think that someone else will make it right. It’s only fair when we can appreciate the delicacy of dew or a flower in bloom, water as it runs over the pebbles, or the majesty of an elephant, the fragility of the butterfly, or a field of wheat or leaves blowing in the wind. Such aesthetic responses are valid in their own right, and as reactions to the natural world they can inspire in us a sense of wonder and beauty that in turn encourages a sense of the Divine.

And there will be no sadder day, when all the birds have flown away, the last tree has been cut, and the last fish caught will we realize we cannot eat money!

People talk too much. We are no longer talking, we are working!

We have faith: Act Now on Climate Justice!

*Ram Kishan is Country Director, Afghanistan, Christian Aid and is a mentor to Indian Youth Climate Network (IYCN) for Agents of Change, 2014


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Water Status of Bangalore City – Maneuvering Through Space and Time

by Manish Gautam*

“Will Bangalore have to be evacuated by 2023?” ~ Firstpost, April 2013

“The land of a thousand lakes, now a sewage pit” ~ Deccan Chronicle, September 2013

“The City of Thousand Lakes is now home to a concrete jungle” ~ Deccan Herald, December 2013

Bangalore or Bengaluru, fourth metropolitan area in India and one of the largest cities in the world, is known by many monikers since it came into existing. From pensioners’ paradise to becoming a cradle for Information Technology in India, the city has accommodated a large population, and a thriving economy. Bangalore enjoys a salubrious, pleasant weather round the year, the air is becoming toxic due to heavy pollution, and the number of hot days is increasing day by day as the result of lurking climate change. Despite all this, the city is on the verge of collapse, as Firstpost in a related news published in April 2013 alarmingly states, “the Government of Karnataka will have to evacuate half of Bangalore in the next ten years, due to water scarcity, contamination of water and diseases”.

Water is one of the most important elements of the nature for human survival. Water is also essential for sustaining a city, and it has been noted that many historical cities had been perished because of the scarcity of water or by other ecological damage, either natural or man-made. Bangalore has always been water-scarce, there flows no river within the city to provide enough water to its resident as compared to the big cities in the northern India, and perhaps this was the reason that the early planners has devised a scheme to harvest the rain in form of network of ponds, known as ‘tanks’, and linked together by channels. As the city grew spatially and a huge influx of people, in quest of better employment opportunity, came in, the increasing water demand compelled the city administration to come up with other engineering solutions.

Launching a water extraction scheme from Cauvery River, situated about 100 km. far from the city, in year 1964 Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB), a body to provide and manage water in the city came into existence. Being the first such utility in the country, the board have had to ensure the access of water far and wide city’s perimeter. The extent of growth can be perceived from this that water extraction from Cauvery River, through Cauvery Water Supply Scheme (CWSS), increased from 135 Million Litres per Day in year 1975 to 500 Million Litres per Day presently. This, however, points out to a significant issue with the present water status. Even if the city is equipped with a supply infrastructure, few locations in the city often cries about lack of adequate water supply. This inequitable water access is often glaring and shows that most of the poor people who are unable to seek other sources and modes of water (such as bore well, or private water supply) are at a very vulnerable position, as documented by many researchers and civil society groups’ findings.

Due to the intermittent and inadequate, and sometimes no access to water supply from BWSSB, the residents are either digging bore wells or hiring private water tankers to meet their water requirements. The city is dotted with a huge numbers (around 4 lakhs) of bore wells especially in those areas, mostly around outer ring-road, where BWSSB supply infrastructure is minimal, and as a result the water levels are falling down rapidly. In a city, due to higher extent of impervious surfaces, the groundwater system is unable to recharge itself even though the Bangalore witnesses a high amount of rain. This increasing depth to water levels is inviting other environmental dangers such as ingress of polluted water from nearby water bodies or leaking sewerage systems, and other contaminants such as leakages from industries and petrol bunks, into the groundwater system. This makes groundwater highly undrinkable in some locations, as highlighted in a recent report by Department of Mines and Geology, Karnataka. In addition to this, the booming, unruly ‘water mafia’ is hampering the city’s economy and ecosystem.

The tank systems, basically rainwater harvesting systems, are prominently seen in various part of southern India, are one of the important links to the human-ecological system. The tank system in Bangalore dates back to pre-British era, when these water impounding structures were dug to store the rainwater. The undulating terrain caused water to store in tanks and lakes, and this water was utilized for drinking purposes and irrigational usages. These structures play an important part in the hydrological cycle of the city, storing and channelizing the excess water and thus stopping the occurrence of flooding in the city during the rain, and recharging the groundwater system. Urbanisation, however, gobbled up many of these water bodies, wetlands and channels to the encroachment. The result was that many low-lying parts of the city are started to flood. Centre for Science and Environment, a New Delhi based research and advocacy body, in their Excreta Matter report on Bangalore city presented a detailed report on the Bangalore’s water status. It has documented the testimonies of people and listed the struggle from civil society groups to save these water bodies.

The access to water is considered to be a fundamental right; the challenges ahead for the cities are quite enormous. One has to include the ecological aspects to deal with the water problem of the city and not just rely only on the infrastructural measures. The ‘garden city’, ‘land of thousand lakes’ has to revive its own environmental legacy for its survival and to maintain the status of the ‘silicon valley’ of the country, and it cannot be achieved without the participation of aware citizens and a strong determination of city administration.

*Manish Gautam is a researcher in Indian Institute for Human Settlements and is volunteering with Indian Youth Climate Network (IYCN) for Agents of Change Programme. 


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Everyday Life & Climate Change– What can we do?

By Dimple Ranpara*

Recently, prior to the Summit on Climate Change in New York, the “People’s Climate March” was held on 20th September in New Delhi. It was a march to demonstrate the climate change concerns of the citizens to the political leaders. Students, young professionals, rights groups, farming communities and welfare associations came together and adorned the capital with this global movement. The ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyan’ launched by Prime Minister, Mr. Narendra Modi, on October 2, 2014, is a huge initiative taken to tackle the issues of solid waste management. There will be a trickle down impact on the sectors of water and sanitation, sewage supply and related infrastructure supply chain. All of these concern the actions and impacts of preparing the country to be climate change resilient.

The consciousness is growing, but climate change cannot be left at the mercy of mere perception. Climate skeptics,who believe that climate change is a natural cycle, pose hindrance to the changes in adaption and mitigation that is required at the micro level. A group of people from Bangalore, who call themselves ‘The Ugly Indians’ work on the philosophy of ‘Kaamchalumoohbandh’ (Stop Talking, Start Doing).They work against the filth in the city and this movement has brought about a radical change in the way people view their public spaces. Such an effort is an excellent example that can motivate individuals to take responsibility, individually and collectively.

Having understood the stimuli to climate change at the government and corporate level, the question arises, how can YOU adapt to climate change and what’s YOUR plan? How can YOU contribute through YOUR actions that can bring about a paradigm shift in the way you consume and dispose resources? One has to go beyond the myopic vision and share civic responsibility towards Mother Nature.  The journey is a long one and to start with baby steps, let’s talk about what can we do for real and be consistent in our efforts to make it a sustainable lifestyle of our own.

  •  Goodbye to Standby

Use the ‘on/off’ function of the appliance to save energy. Pull the changers off the sockets because even if your mobile phone, iPod or tabs are unplugged, the charger is still draining energy. Out of the total energy consumption by mobile devices in the charging mode, 20% is consumed by the standby mode. [1] Imagine the quantum of power wastage for a nation who’s expected mobile users are 1260 Million by 2020.

  • Light up guilt-free

Replace the most frequently used bulbs of your house with CFLs or LEDs. CFLs facilitate up to 70% [2] energy savings over the conventional incandescent bulb and LEDs is even 50% lower consumption compared to CFLs. It can be a huge impact over 246.7 million households (Census 2011) in India.

  •  Covered cooking

Pressure cooking is economical and fastest way of cooking. For example, there are fuel savings of 20% on rice and 41.5%[3] on meats as compared to ordinary cooking. Covering the pots while cooking reduces loss of heat by 2.5 times thereby lowering fuel consumption.

  •  Shop Intelligently

Buying in bulk would reduce millions of tons[4] of packaging waste from entering the landfill. A bottle of 1.5 liters consumes less energy and produces lesser waste than three bottles of 0.5 liters.

  •  Act Global, Eat Local

Shopping at local farmer markets over supermarkets will save on high fossil fuels used in transporting the groceries to your plate. And fresh vegetables and fruits are way healthier than frozen processed foods (which consume lots of energy to store them). One can eliminate up to 400kgs[5] of CO2emissions in a year by switching to locally produced food.

  •  Drive inflated

Properly inflated tires improve your fuel efficiency by more than 3%[6], lowering the carbon dioxide emissions.

  •  Wash when full

Run your washing machine and dish washers only when they full, for optimized water and energy consumption. Washing machines with Energy Star labels use 35%[7]less water for laundry and 20% less energy consumption.

  •  Keep reusable bags handy

Buying milk or shopping for veggies, keeping a reusable bag would shun down the consumption of plastic.

  •  Not in my backyard

Keeping your own house clean and dumping the garbage outside your premises is too hypocrite. Adopt your lane and share the responsibility with the neighbors to keep your street clean. A clean neighborhood remains clean and demands respect compared a dirty one which only deteriorates. (See: The Ugly Indian, Bangalore)

  •  Eyes on Water

While brushing our teeth to cleansing your face, the water knob should be turned on only when you require it. 20 liters of water is wasted for every 5 minutes of running tap and 50 liters of water is lost by a dripping tap of one drop per second in a single day[8].

  • Walk and Talk

Sharing a ride together or meeting friends in open spaces is an excellent way to contribute to lower carbon emissions and higher friendship bonds. Carpooling could save an individual about 122 kgs of CO2emissions[9] in a year per km travelled.

  •  Go Digital

Switch to online payments, service complaints, invoicing and ordering. Saves time, energy and emissions.

  •  Cool with sense

Sun control films on windows can reduce air-conditioning cost by 5-10% and lining windows with plants reduces the costs by 40%[10].

  •  Explore Nature’s Beauty

Next time you plan your holiday, instead of going to a luxurious resort, try visiting some natural landscapes of your region or country to experience the beauty of Nature. It shall move you and strengthen your responsibility towards protecting it.

  •  Turn it off

Every driver should switch off his engine at a traffic signal over a halt of 14 seconds. While idling, CO2emissions increase about 5 times[11].

These simple, energy and cost efficient steps can be an easy part of our everyday lives. Collective effort is required but at the same time, individual effort in its own way shall be the driving force to this huge mission of reducing man-made impacts leading to climate change. Let’s be more responsible, involved, and aware to inspire communities around us by being an example of change. Be your own Agent of Change and let the nation follow.

References and Web Links

[1]http://www.cstep.in/sites/default/files/CSTEP_Energy%20Consumption%20and%20CO2%20Emissions%20by%20the%20Indian%20Mobile.pdf

[2] https://www.bijlibachao.com/lights/use-energy-efficient-lights.html

[3] http://www.pcra.org/english/domestic/lastLong.htm

[4] http://www.bulkisgreen.org/blog/post/Portland-St-University-releases-first-US-Bulk-Foods-Study.aspx

[5] Calculated by http://www.carbonindependent.org/

[6] http://shrinkthatfootprint.com/fuel-gas-mileage-tips

[7] http://www.surfexcel.in/machine-maintenance/choose-the-best-washing-machine-in-india-to-save-water-and-energy/

[8] https://www.projectsunlight.co.in/stories/392270/What-s-your-water-quotient-.aspx

[9]http://timeforchange.org/what-is-a-carbon-footprint-definition

[10] http://www.bsesdelhi.com/bsesdelhi/wbMyCoolIdea.do

[11] http://ijret.org/Volumes/V02/I10/IJRET_110210006.pdf

*Deepa Ranpara is an intern with Project Survival Media.

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