How Climate Jamboree along with youth and relevant stakeholders envisions for a sustainable environment?
The Climate Jamboree is attempting to create a youth movement wherein young India would engage with, and take ownership of, the sustainability of their own future. This would require them to gain a fuller understanding of the inter-connectedness of various systems, the intended and unintended consequences of economic growth, and the power they wield in determining this growth path through their lifestyles and consumption choices. Young India would also learn to articulate their positions on various issues of climate and sustainability and would learn to appreciate the power of partnerships. Sustainability is a subject that can only be addressed through collaboration and not competition.
Where do you think our country stands in the Change of Climate (COP) Convention taking place in Poland?
India has done very well in terms of its renewable energy ambitions. It has also designed some innovative programmes on energy efficiency. However, beyond these, a lot more needs to be done on emissions reductions opportunities such as mobility choices, agricultural production, green buildings, etc. Also, India needs to move beyond the design of government driven policies and programmes to engage every other stakeholder in the effort to reduce its GHG emissions – corporates and civil society included. As of now, the perception still remains that climate change is a problem that only governments have to deal with and initiate action on.
As regards the upcoming Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP), the focus is going to be on taking stock of national commitments so as to inform the preparation of NDCs, develop modalities, procedures and guidelines for review of national commitments and for improved reporting and transparency among other issues. All of this would require a robust data collection and analysis system to be established, as well as, a clear assessment of enhanced measures that India would be able to take to further its commitments.
How was the Climate Jamboree welcomed by the participants?
The Climate Jamboree created a deep resonance in all the diverse partners that we approached to help us with delivering a unique pedagogical experience on climate and sustainability. Their excitement in turn was transferred to all the young participants at the main event and they very enthusiastically engaged with the diverse elements of responsible climate and sustainability actions. From deliberating on measures to reduce their footprints, to identifying how the SDG agenda could enhance their opportunities while being sensitive to the vulnerable – students absorbed a lot from the facilitators of sessions as also from their peers. The use of performing arts, live labs, quizzes and games also enhanced their learning experience in a relaxed and fun environment.
How do you think India should address power and energy issues? What changes can we afford to bring in this sector?
The opportunities to reduce demand for energy are many – in terms of absolute quantities of energy consumed, the quality of the energy and the time of day/season when energy is demanded. The convergence of information technology with energy systems has opened up a plethora of opportunities to effect energy efficiency and demand management measures in a decentralized manner. Of course, both our hard and soft infrastructures would need to be strengthened to ensure a smooth transition to an alternative energy pathway. The academic institutions in our country should work towards building the requisite capacities to respond to emerging demands.
Additionally, the deployment of artificial intelligence, IOT, e-commerce, etc. will significantly change the patterns of mobility – both of individuals and commodities. We need to recognize these evolving consumption patterns and re-visit the design of the energy infrastructure investments that the country is making so as to support these transitions.
Are the smart cities enough to support the environmental degradation that is going on?
The smart city initiative is an excellent initiative of the Government of India. However, there still seems to be a huge gap between design and implementation. The programme also suffers from a lack of financial support as well as coverage. A major weakness of the Smart City Programme is a lack of focus on achieving sustainability in an integrated manner. The siloed approach to development continues.
How do you think we can inculcate a more responsible behaviour towards ecological balance and sustenance?
Every individual – young or old – should be able to (i) first and foremost recognize the socio-ecological vulnerabilities that we are facing as humanity on planet earth, and (ii) critically think through, and analyze, the consequences of their own actions and choices in exacerbating these vulnerabilities. This would result in more responsible citizens – citizens who would also engage with the communities around them and effect the transformative changes that are required to make us more sustainable and resilient. This change cannot be brought about in one year through one event – it is a change that would come by being reinforced at every stage of one’s life and over a reasonably long period of time! Thus, we need many more prime movers to engage with the climate and sustainability agendas.