Monday, May 29, 2023

माझं शहर माझी जबाबदारी - स्वच्छ, हिरव्या नद्या आणि बरंच काही हवं!!!!

प्रिय मित्रांनो, 



जागरूक नागरिकांसोबत सेल्फी!

पुणे नदी पुनरुज्जीवन (पीआरआर) चळवळीचा भाग होणे हा एक आव्हानात्मक प्रवास आहे. पुणे महापालिकेने प्रस्तावित केलेली आपल्या नदीकिनाऱ्यांवरील तथाकथित 'पुनरुज्जीवन' योजना रद्द व्हावी आणि जीवितनदी संस्थेने सुचवलेला पर्यावरणपूरक पर्याय स्वीकारावा, यासाठी जीवितनदी या संस्थेच्या पुढाकाराने सुरू झालेल्या चळवळीत सहभागी नागरिक विविध प्रकारे प्रयत्न करत आहेत!


नदीच्या ज्या भागात या प्रकल्पाअंतर्गत बेसुमार विनाशकारी काम सुरू करण्यात आले आहे, त्या भागात अधूनमधून फेरीचे आयोजन केले जाते. मी बंड गार्डनच्या परिसरातील अशाच एका फेरीत सहभागी झाले होते. तिथे मी ५०० मीटरपेक्षा कमी अंतरावर सुमारे ७००-१००० वृक्षांची बेकायदेशीर कत्तल पाहिली. आपण कल्पना करू शकता की या पट्ट्यालगतची झाडी किती घनदाट आहे. या ७००+ वृक्षांमध्ये चांगले वाढलेले, पन्नास वर्षे किंवा त्याहून जुने स्थानिक वृक्षही होते. या वृक्षांसोबत हजारो पक्षी, सस्तन प्राणी, कीटक आणि सूक्ष्मजीव (एक चांगली जैवविविधता) नांदत होते. यातील काही वृक्षांचे म्हणे पुनर्रोपण होणार आहे... पण इथे जे नष्ट होत आहे त्यात झुडपांपासून वृक्षांपर्यंत विविध स्तरांमध्ये वाढलेली वनश्री आहे. अगदी चांगल्या नैसर्गिक जंगलाची एक छोटी प्रतिकृतीच जणू.




कापण्यासाठी चिन्हांकित केलेले परिपक्व झाड


मात्र, विकासाची प्रक्रिया जलद गतीने व्हावी, यासाठी या वनश्रीवर राडारोडा व दगड टाकून निर्दयीपणे हे जंगल नष्ट केले जात आहे. माझे सहकारी सत्या आणि उमा म्हणाले की, ते या झाडांना 'जिवंत समाधी' देत आहेत.


हे ज्या पद्धतीने होत आहे ते निव्वळ अनाकलनीय आणि अतार्किक आहे, जुनी वाढलेली सध्याची झाडे आणि घनदाट वनश्री नष्ट करून त्या जागी हिरव्या गवताचे ठिपके, ठरावीक अंतरावर नियोजन करून लावलेली  एकांडी झाडे आणि काँक्रीटच्या रचना उभ्या करण्यातून काय साध्य होते?  आपले नदीकाठ शाश्वत करण्यासाठी नक्कीच वेगळे मार्ग काढावे लागतील.



बांधकामाच्या ढिगाऱ्याखाली पडलेली झाडे आणि झुडपे

नदीपात्र कसे कार्य करते, त्याची वैशिष्ट्ये काय आहेत आणि नदी कोणत्या परिसंस्थिकीय सेवा पुरवते याच्या मूलभूत समजेचा अभाव येथे स्पष्टपणे दिसून येतो. नदीचे पाणी जलपर्णीने भरलेले (आपल्याला नको असलेली हिरवाई) आणि दुर्गंधीयुक्त आहे. हा भाग बोट क्लबचाही भाग असल्याने येथे नौकाविहाराची व्यवस्था करण्याची योजना आहे, मात्र जोपर्यंत नद्यांमध्ये सातत्याने स्वच्छ पाणी येत नाही, तोपर्यंत त्यात बोटी चालविणे किंवा नदीतले इतर कोणतेही उपक्रम राबवणे अशक्य आहे. नदी मेली आहे, तिचे पुनरुज्जीवन करायला हवे आहे! 



नदीमध्ये जलपर्णी

नदीपात्रातल्या या विध्वंसाबरोबरच तिथे चालू असलेल्या कामावरील मजूरांच्या वसाहतीतील दृश्यही निराशाजनक होते. कामगार, त्यांचे कुटुंबीय आणि लहान मुले पत्र्याच्या तात्पुरत्या झोपड्यांमध्ये राहत असून उन्हाच्या तीव्र लाटेला सामोरे जात आहेत. मात्र या झोपड्यांना पूर्ण वाढलेल्या झाडांच्या सावलीचाच काय तो आधार आहे. काय विडंबन आहे पहा! 



बांधकाम कामगारांची तात्पुरती वसाहत

कामगार व त्यांच्या कुटुंबियां अवस्था आणि नदीकाठावरील विध्वंसक काम पाहून नदीकाठ विकासाची ही सारी प्रक्रिया किती निष्काळजी आणि अज्ञानी आहे, याची जाणीव होते! नागरिकांचे जीवनमान उंचावणे हा या प्रकल्पाचा एक हेतू आहे, असे त्यांचे म्हणणे आहे, पण त्याचे प्रतिबिंब या प्रक्रियेतसुध्दा उमटलेले नाही! 


असे म्हटले जाते की आम्ही पर्यावरणवादी किंवा कार्यकर्ते किंवा जे काही नाव ते आम्हाला नावे देतात ते आम्ही सर्व विकासाच्या विरोधात आहोत… तर होय, आम्ही आहोत या असल्या विकासाच्या विरोधात! कारण हे २०२३ आहे आणि आपण अजूनही १९८० च्या दशकात असल्यासारखे काम करत आहोत. त्या काळात आपल्याला 'शाश्वतता' हा शब्द माहीत होता पण त्याचा अर्थ पुरता आकळलेला नव्हता. आपण आपल्या आजूबाजूच्या आपल्याच लोकांना आणि आपल्या पर्यावरणाला कधीही महत्व दिले नाही, परंतु आता वेळ आली आहे की आपण स्वत: ला वाचविण्यासाठी शाश्वततेच्या आधुनिक निकषांचे पालन केले पाहिजे आणि आपल्या विकासाच्या कल्पनेला शाश्वत विकास लक्ष्यांशी जोडून घेतले पाहिजे.  


जागतिक वातावरण बदलाच्या संकटामुळे वाढता उकाडा आणि दिवसागणिक हवामानात अचानक होणारे बदल यांना आपण सामोरे जात आहोतच. त्यात ही निष्काळजी, बेफिकीरी, पैसा कमावण्याची हाव आपल्याला परवडणारी नाही. आपली अर्थव्यवस्था भरभराटीला यावी जरूर, पण आपले पर्यावरण आणि आपले लोक यांचीही भरभराट व्हायला हवी!!!


शहरात होत असलेला हा तथाकथित विकास पाहिल्यानंतर एक जागरूक नागरिक म्हणून मला माझ्या प्रश्नाचे उत्तर हवे आहे - आपण कुठे जात आहोत???


कोणत्याही सुशोभीकरणाआधी आम्हाला मूलभूत सेवांची आवश्यकता आहे, त्यापैकी काहींची ही यादी.

प्रदूषणमुक्त व सुरक्षित सुरक्षित सार्वजनिक जागा .

स्वच्छ नद्या.

खड्डेमुक्त रस्ते .

योग्य सावली असलेले सुरक्षित वाहन तळ. 

वाहतुकीचे कार्यक्षम व्यवस्थापन.

चालणे आणि सायकल चालविण्यासाठी सुरक्षित रस्ते.

फक्त आवश्यक तिथेच उड्डाणपूल (आणि आपल्या टेकड्यांचा बळी देणारे उड्डाणपूल अजिबात नकोत).

कार्यक्षम कचरा व्यवस्थापन सेवा (अर्थातच वर्गीकरण केलेला कचरा कचरावेचकांना देण्याची जबाबदारी नागरिकांची!) 100% सेंद्रिय कचऱ्याचे जागेवरच व्यवस्थापन (कंपोस्ट / बायोगॅस / बायोचार अशी तंत्रे वापरून).

सांडपाण्यावर १०० टक्के प्रक्रिया करून या पाण्याचा बांधकामासाठी वापर करून स्थानिक गोड्या पाण्याच्या स्त्रोतांवरील भार कमी करणे. 

विजेचे कार्यक्षम, सातत्यपूर्ण आणि स्वच्छ स्त्रोत आणि शाश्वत पाणी पुरवठा. 

जेथे शक्य असेल तेथे (निवासी वसाहतींत शक्यतो १०० टक्के) पावसाचे पाणी साठवणे.

असलेले भूजलवाहक, नैसर्गिक व सांस्कृतिक वारसा क्षेत्रे आणि आपल्या टेकड्या आणि नद्यांचे संवर्धन व संरक्षण. 


या यादीत आणखीही भर घातली जाऊ शकते. या गुगल फॉर्मद्वारे आपण आपल्या सूचना पाठवू शकता. 


जोपर्यंत हे सारे होत नाही, तोपर्यंत आपल्या नैसर्गिक परिसंस्थेची मोडतोड करणाऱ्या आणि गडद काळ्या भविष्याचे कृत्रिम हिरवे चित्र रंगवणाऱ्या कोणत्याही सुशोभित नदीकाठ प्रकल्पाची आपल्याला गरज नाही!


पौर्णिमा आगरकर.


PS: Marathi translation by Dr Priyadarshini Karve .


www.samuchit.com

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Saturday, May 20, 2023

My City My Responsibility - Need Clean, Green Rivers and much more!!!!

 Dear Friends, 

Selfie with fellow concerned citizens!

Being part of the Pune River Revival (PRR) movement has been a challenging journey. Everyday a group of concerned citizens and members of Jeevitnadi, the organisation which is spearheading this movement are striving harder from all the spheres just to ensure that the so-called 'rejuvenation' plan on our RIVERFRONT proposed by the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) be SCRAPPED and the ecological ALTERNATIVE suggested by Jeevitnadi team be adopted! 

Mature tree marked to be cut

Every now and then there's a walk on the stretches where the rampant devastating work has been initiated. I visited the stretch at the Bund Garden where I witnessed illegitimate cutting of almost 700-1000 trees in a stretch of less than 500 m. You can imagine how dense is the vegetation along the stretch. Among these 700+ trees there were several trees that were old grown mature heritage trees that housed thousands of birds, mammals, insects and microorganisms (a good biodiversity). There are a number of trees that are planted for transplanting blah blah...while a lot of them are shrubs forming a kind of layered vegetation, a mini version of forest setting that we generally see in a typical forest ecosystem. 

However, this vegetation is being ruthlessly cleared either by cutting or simply dumping construction debris on it in order to ensure fast tracking the DEVELOPMENT process. My fellow citizens Satya and Uma said that they are giving LIVE samadhi to these trees in Marathi it is 'Jivant Samadhi'.

The way this is taking place is simply mindless and illogical, because there's no point in clearing old grown existing trees and dense vegetation just to create newly grown green grass patches along with other manicured vegetation and concrete structures. Definitely there has to be a way out in order to make our riverfront sustainable! 


Trees and shrubs dumped under the debris

The basic LACK of understanding in HOW the riverbed functions, WHAT are its features and WHAT ecosystem services it offers can be clearly seen here. The river water is full of water hyacinth (green that we don't want) and is smelly. Since this stretch is also part of the Boat club there's plan to have boating activity here, however unless we have consistent clean running water in the rivers, boat rides or any activity along the river is worthless. The river is dead, needs restoration!  

Water hyacinth in the river

Apart from this destruction, the scene at the construction labor colony, had been a disheartening scene too. The workers, their families and young ones are residing in tin sheet temporary hutments and facing the scorching heat waves. However these hutments are being sheltered by the full grown trees demarcated to be cleared. What an irony! 

Construction workers colony

Seeing their condition and the destructive site work just gives one an understanding that how careless and ignorant is the overall process of riverfront development! They say project intends to give quality of life to the citizens but it does not reflect in the process! 

If then it is said that WE the environmentalist or activists or whatever names they call us are against development then YES, we are! Because this is 2023 and we are still functioning as if we are in the 1980's when we knew the word 'sustainability' without knowing its meaning. We never valued our people and our environment but now is the time we better adhere to the present norms and align ourselves to the Sustainable Development Goals in order to save ourselves.  

With the rising heat and abrupt changes in day to day weather because of the Climate crisis that we all are in, we cannot afford this careless, mindless, money minting attitude. Lets ensure our economy thrives but so does our environment and our people!!!

As a concerned citizen I want answers to all the so-called development happening in the city as to where are we heading???

We need our basic services in place, listing some of them below.

  • Pollution free spaces. 
  • Clean rivers.
  • Safe public spaces.
  • Pothole free roads.
  • Appropriate shaded parking spaces. 
  • Efficiently managed traffic.
  • Safe walking and cycling spaces.
  • Less or only required flyovers (and NO flyovers at the expense of our hills).
  • Efficient waste management services (segregation first by citizens of course!) with 100% organic waste managed at source (compost/biogas/biochar).
  • 100% treatment of wastewater and using this water for construction activities reducing load on local fresh water sources. 
  • Efficient, consistent and clean sources of electricity and sustainable water supply. 
  • Rainwater harvesting wherever feasible and 100% for residential complexes.
  • Conservation of existing aquifers, green spaces, heritage areas and our hills and water bodies. 

More can be added to the list. Please share your opinion on this poll: Click here

Unless we have these in place, we DON'T need any beautified riverfront that compromises our natural ecosystem services and paints artificial green picture having a dark black future!

Pournima Agarkar.

www.samuchit.com

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Thursday, November 17, 2022

Firsthand experience at the COP27 Egypt

Hello people, 

Being a local from Pune and working along with grassroot initiatives gives me a feeling of immense pleasure and satisfaction. But when you get a chance to talk about the initiatives with people at a global platform it’s the next level feeling.

The 27th Conference of Parties (COP) is one of the most expensive ones happening post covid. It is partly as a recovery from the pandemic and partly because the host city is a resort city. One may feel why organize such large scale meetings and consultations? Why to add to the already increasing emissions pool?

Trust me this global meeting is very much needed from accountability perspective. It’s a platform where NGOs, Activists, Youth, Civil Society Members like you and me get an opportunity to hold the Head of the States, Ministers and Negotiators our leaders responsible for their actions at an international level. This platform has a legal binding so if that is a fight it is to be fought here.

Entrance banner

Now that all the carbon emissions happening due to the meeting with all the flights coming in and with all the resources that are being pulled in for this annual meeting are being optimized but there's still a lot of scope.

So far, this year’s COP has been disappointing from Climate Finance perspective since so far only a few million dollars have been poured in by the emitters when what we need is billions of dollars for all the loss and damage that has already been occurred. There are a lot of ‘Ifs and Buts’ on how to fund and whom to fund...blah blah blah.

But with whatever sessions I attended and with all the work that we are doing at INECC, LAYA and Samuchit I am quite hopeful, and this COP added value to my HOPE. The work that is happening at local level has immense potential to take on the whole world without the petty finance from these historic emitters or the so-called developed nations. Nevertheless, from justice point of view it is their moral and legal responsibility to fund their fellow people on this planet. That too in the form of absolute fund and not in debt, this point was raised very clearly in one of the sessions that I attended. Climate crisis is indeed a human rights issue and it’s our right to ask for all that is lost and damaged with or without the political will. Our environment and surroundings are not dependent on us, we humans are dependent on them. Our world leaders have to realize they are on a suicidal pathway. If they don't, it's time for us to change our leaders who can turn the tide! That's where our work with engaging citizens and youth gets crucial. 

Side event on Global Goal on Adaptation by CAN 

Nevertheless, this COP also gives me HOPE, to see so many developing countries, indigenous groups and even a war struck nation like Ukraine making a point to come here on a global platform and put forth their perspective. Though some are playing a victim card, but they are here to show that we need to be heard and that is important. A lot of Adaptation and Climate Finance has already been diverted towards pandemic and wars. Hence it is important now to create an additional pool of resources for such uncertainties and fund the ones who are part of the solution ensuring to make this world a better place to live in.

Ukraine Pavillion at the COP27

Asia Pacific Youth group


















I was all excited and overwhelmed with everything happening around in this meeting. Right from getting into the registration hall with all the security therein.  Then setting our booth space and meeting online friends from Asia Pacific Youth group and so on. It was so good to see all group members face to face. Seeing the energy and enthusiasm of my young fellas from Australia, Japan, Philippines, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Indonesia and India gave a lot of HOPE for a better future!!!

We also had our side event, for which I was nervous for no reason. I was not on the panel, still with all the stalwarts on the panel, our side event went quite well and well in time too. Hats off to my colleagues on the panel Myron Mendes, Nakul Sharma and Martin Voss and our moderator cum opener Dr Priyadarshini Karve for a great show. It gives me a feeling of pride to be part of the team.

Our side event at the COP27 on the big screen

The best part this year’s COP events focused on local solutions and actions on ground as well. INECC’s initiative on Locally Developed Choices for Nationally determined Contributions (LDC for NDC) was first such side event to be showcased! I realized later that a lot of organizations are working on local solutions and had the same opinion as us. Thus, we were all showing solidarity in the work that is being done for making ourselves Climate resilient.   

COP27 Side events schedule

Being part of local campaigns and undertaking social media campaigns is something that I feel is required, but the way it is done matters. I am glad that I could participate in one such campaign on asking the emitter nations to ‘Pay Up 4 Loss and Damage’ at an international level organized by Climate Action Network (CAN). The best part was when a pack of Ministers passed by the whole campaign gained momentum and everyone there looked upon them for paying up to the climate crisis. There were around 500+ people there in all, young and old, supporting the campaign at that time. It was quite a scene!  

Me at the CAN campaign
Another interesting campaign by CAN was on awarding the Fossil of the Day award to entities that are doing their best at their worst like supporting fossil fuels. It’s all about holding these 'villains' responsible for their actions. There were some other campaigns such as endorsing ‘Non-Proliferation of Fossil Fuel treaty’, conserving Oceans, saving vulnerable communities, etc. Apart from this there were many interesting discussions and sessions happening at the same time in multiple pavilions, it was very difficult to decide which one to attend. How to get to that place was another exercise altogether, the overall logistic arrangement in this COP was horrible, from the chaotic shuttle service to the maps provided everywhere making no sense... but we still managed to get to places.

Campaign on Ending Fossil Fuel at COP27
  

With all the e-networking that I had been into since the past couple of years, I happened to meet all these people here. I met my Bangladeshi friend Zuhair from the Conference of Youth (COY) I attended in 2017, one of the mentors from my Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) coursework Raji working in Andhra Pradesh was happy to see me and know that I am working with LAYA that is situated in Vizag. Also met fellow Climate Reality member Rituraj Phukan who's doing great work on ground in Assam on Climate Education.

Face to Face meetups at the COP27

Also made new connects with groups working on similar initiatives from other South Asian countries like Bangladesh and met people from INFORSE a very active network having a consortium of developed plus developing country organizations working on sustainable energy access. Attended a session by CEEW whose work we follow at the SDG pavilion. We also met old friends of Nafisa and Dominic who have attended almost every COP and are still excited about COP and are still exploring ways to participate in the campaigns. 

INFORSE meet at their booth in COP27

The one week at COP has been very enriching for me and I am grateful for attending this one!!!

Pournima Agarkar. 


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Monday, November 14, 2022

Musings from Priyadarshini Karve: #COP27: Day 6

 #COP27: Day 6

Saturday November 12 was our last day at COP27. The meeting also takes a break on Sunday and will continue for another week. But our stay here is over. 

As I mentioned in one of the previous blogs, Egypt and Sherm al Sheikh have not done a great job with the logistics of the conference. 

It was not clear till about two weeks before the start of the conference whether we would even be able to be here. The hotels all over the city were arbitrarily hiking prices and refusing to confirm reservations. We managed to sort out our stay arrangements and were able to absorb the escalated cost, but many other people from NGO sector had to cancel their trips. Several people were blackmailed into paying more after arrival here. 

For almost half of the first week the prices of food and beverages inside the venue of the conference were exhorbitantly high. After a lot of protest from the observer organisations the food prices were slashed by half. It seems that the hotels with bookings for the second week of the conference have also been told to lower their prices and not demand extra money from the participants. But all in all, it appeared that the hosts tried their best to contain the civil society presence at the COP. However, those of us who did get here and those who will come in the second week in spite of all the hurdles have certainly made our presence felt. There has been some protest or other going on almost daily and drawing a lot of media attention from around the world. 

Some of the newslinks are here and here and here.

INECC team member Pournima in the Climate Action Network (CAN) Protest

On my last day at COP27, I attended what was for me the best side event. It was organised by International Network for Sustainable Energy (INFORSE) and had speakers from Europe, Africa and South Asia. It was interesting to see that organisations in Denmark on one hand and several prominent countries in Africa on the other hand have come up with systematic plans to shift to 100% renewable energy with a clear timeline. The plans presented were very much grounded in practicality and focused on solar - wind - hydro and sustainable biomass energy with each country focusing on its own unique combination. The south Asian presenters were from India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka. They too presented how localised renewable energy solutions that are helping local communities to achieve climate adaptation as well as contribute to mitigation. This was exactly the pathway that we too are pushing for through our #LDCforNDC campaign. 

Personally, it was heartening to see that in spite of the big push and bad mouthing of biomass fuelled cooking by LPG and electricity lobby, the grassroots level organisations in Africa and South Asia still see the importance of improved cook stoves and biogas plants based on waste biomass as the more realistic solutions for meeting cooking energy needs. They also had practical data on how these humble interventions support both adaptation and mitigation. 

What I liked the most about this side event was that all the presentations were to the point, matter-of-fact showcasing of solutions without dwelling much on 'victim' status of the communities. 

Another observation that was personally important to me - I saw on the stage several individuals and organisations that I had connected with at some point or other in the last 22 years of my professional career! I was really happy to see that all of us are still continuing to fight the 'good fight' in our own spheres of influence! I will surely be re-connecting with all of them in the near future and will explore what more we can do collectively. 

On this positive note I am now ending this series of blogs from COP27. Thank you all of those who read and encouraged me to keep this going! 

Climate Action must go hand in hand with SDGs to achieve climate justice

Day 5 Blog

Day 4 Blog

Day 3 Blog

Day 2 Blog

Day 1 Blog


Priyadarshini Karve
Director, Samuchit Enviro Tech
Convener, Indian Network on Ethics and Climate Change (INECC)

Saturday, November 12, 2022

Musings from Priyadarshini Karve: #COP27: Day 5

 #COP27: Day 5

11 November was the BIG high security day with the US President Joe Biden coming to the COP stage. Given USA's track record with the UNFCCC process, the US presence at COPs should be protested as much as the presence of fossil fuel industry at COP is protested! But unfortunately, politics trumps ethical considerations in this case. 

If the Kyoto agreement had actually been delivered by the developed world, we would not be in the mess that we are currently in. The most important factor that weakened the Kyoto agreement was USA, the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, walking out of the treaty. 

The successor to Kyoto agreement was to be structured by 2010 and should have been ready to be implemented by 2015 if not 2012 (the end date for Kyoto agreement). This process was stalled by President Obama. This delayed the formulation of Paris agreement to 2015 and then its implementation to 2022 - nearly 10 years delay during which the earth continued to heat up. 

In 2016 President Donald Trump pulled USA out of the Paris Agreement and almost derailed the second and perhaps the last chance that humanity had to avoid or at least contain a civilizational collapse. 

President Biden brought USA back into the Paris Agreement as one of his first actions on getting elected. He has in the two years of his regime enacted certain measures that are likely to reduce USA's emissions by about 40%. But all this is too little too less. And the question remains - what happens if in 2024 USA gets a Republican president? 

In spite of these uncertainties and past disappointments the world has no option but to continue hoping for more meaningful action from USA and applauding whatever little is thrown our way because of its political and economic clout across the world. 

I stayed away from all the hoopla around President Biden's visit and address at COP which I am sure has already been reported by the press. Instead, I attended a very relevant discussion organised in the SDG pavilion by Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW) and collaborators. This discussion was about accountability. 

Big political leaders make lofty announcements at COP. Big businesses were racing against each other to announce carbon neutrality targets in last year's COP at Glasgow. Big Multilateral Development Banks make big promises of finance for low carbon and climate adaptive infrastructure in every COP. But there is no standard mechanism or process to check what is happening around these claims in an objective way. Where is the accountability? How do we build a structure that will infuse accountability in climate action? How to get reliable data that will allow third party assessment of the claims? That was the focus of this discussion. 

For private businesses the carbon accounting process is one concrete way by which fulfilment of promises of carbon neutrality can be checked. For me the most interesting slide was what I show in the photograph below. 

Accountability of Carbon neutrality pledges by the private sector

A carbon neutrality pledge is generally aimed at some future date like 2040 or 50 or beyond. This must be backed by an action plan with short term milestones that clearly show the path to be followed. Then standard protocols must be established for carbon accounting - not limited just to direct use of electricity and fossil fuels (what are called Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions) but also accounting for the indirect emissions from actions such as sourcing of raw materials, construction and maintenance of infrastructure, managing waste on a daily basis and at the end of life of products, contracted out services, etc. (all of these are collectively called Scope 3 emissions). Current carbon accounting standards do not insist on Scope 3 accounting in spite of the fact that for many private sector entities this is the biggest contributor to their carbon footprint. And finally transparent and honest disclosure of the data is also important. 

All of this resonated very well with me because I have been saying more or less the same things for a few years. After Paris Agreement and the 1.5 deg C report by UNFCCC I felt that beyond investing in renewable energy infrastructure etc., the governments will have to eventually demand lowering of emissions by the private sector and might start including such pledges in the NDC. In that case it might become mandatory for companies to report their carbon emissions periodically. To an extent this has started appearing in NDcs from Europe. India cannot be far behind. 

I also felt that as more and more NGOs and institutions engage with the climate change issue, they should 'walk the talk' by going for low carbon operations and presenting the evidence to the world in a transparent way. 

Converting this thinking into action, we conducted a carbon accounting exercise for the headquarters of Laya, the secretariat of INECC. We have also tried to estimate the carbon emissions of some of our meetings and have tried to keep these as low as practically feasible. A few years ago, we launched a participatory process for educational institutions to go for carbon neutrality as a joint project by students, teachers and management, with our role as that of a mentor rather than a consultant. 

However, I could also see that in India we don't have enough people with even a basic understanding of what carbon accounting is - let alone be qualified carbon accountants and auditors. We need to build this basic understanding if carbon accounting is going to be a mainstreamed process in industry, academia and civil society. So, I launched an online course with the limited aim of building 'literacy' about carbon accounting around 2016. 

I in fact thought even beyond the accountability concerns that the panelists talked about. The IPCC Assessment Report 6 clearly stated that even stopping emissions is no longer going to be enough to meet the 1.5 deg C goal of the Paris Agreement. We have to also invest in removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Currently the only way to do that is to increase the land cover under natural ecosystems to sink the carbon into vegetation. Many of the carbon neutrality pledges are relying on creating carbon sinks. How does one account for that? I feel that the carbon accounting protocols need to include a component to estimate the 'sunk carbon' too. I have tried to include a flavour of that approach in my course. 

We ran the carbon accounting course in a rather amateurish and low-key manner for the past 5-6 years and then COVID happened. It has certainly opened my eyes to the various tools available and possibilities around online education. The course is currently being revamped in collaboration with 'Climatora'. Stay connected with Samuchit Enviro Tech on social media to know more about this! 

In the meanwhile, you can try our personal carbon footprint calculator in its new and revamped version made in collaboration with Climatora on this link.






Priyadarshini Karve
Director, Samuchit Enviro Tech
Convener, Indian Network on Ethics and Climate Change. 

Friday, November 11, 2022

Musings from Priyadarshini Karve: #COP27: Day 4

 #COP27: Day 4


Organising a COP is a huge undertaking for any city and the host country. Tens of thousands of people would be descending on the city over a period of two weeks. There are protocols that need to be followed for heads of states from across the world, as well as their ministers and negotiators. The NGOs and research organisations and businesses that send their delegates are also increasing day by day. Egypt and Sherm al Sheikh have not done a great job with the logistics of the conference unfortunately, but more about this in a later blog! 

Typically, COP tends to take over a city and does not remain limited to the conference venue. There are a number of side events that happen at other venues across the city. There are also a few marches and processions that take the COP to the streets of the city. 

We keep on getting notifications of events happening outside the COP venue but one of those drew our attention due to its unique venue and title. This event was organised by an organisation named 'SISU' and was called Ancient Futures. It was to be held at the Sherm al Sheikh Museum in the evening. So, we decided to look in on it. 

The museum is an imposing building, but we did not go inside it. The event was held on an open terrace outside. The seating arrangement had a few chairs and a few mattresses and pillows. There was some food and beverages on offer for the attendees. 

The event was focused around listening to the voices of women from indigenous communities. We managed to catch the main component of the function which was going to go on for 4 hr. 

The speakers were three indigenous women from South America and Africa. They spoke very eloquently about the relationship of the indigenous people with the earth and specifically about the role of women of the community - which used to be more decisive and equal than modern communities. 

Ancient Futures Event


The argument made by the 'King' (she called herself the king while everyone else referred to her as queen... If one thinks of 'king' as a gender-neutral word for the main leader, her usage of the word was correct - somewhat similar to 'Rashtrapati' in the Indian context.) of a tribe from Africa was interesting. Referring to the history of humanity she asked - aren't we all indigenous people of Africa? Why should we make this distinction between 'indigenous' peoples and others merely on the basis of differences in ways of life? 

The lady from Brazil was recently elected to the Parliament and was a supporter of the newly elected leftist president Lulla. She explained that this time the indigenous communities strategically participated in the elections and took a lot of efforts to get the indigenous people to come out and vote. As a result, the number of elected representatives from the indigenous communities has gone up in the new parliament and hopefully that will help in addressing some of the commercial threats faced by the tribes in the Amazon forests. 

Apart from this the overall tone of the conversation was the usual spiel on how the earth is suffering because the women are suffering etc. 

The issues of gender equality are indeed an important socio-politico-economic challenge. It is not limited to indigenous communities but is far more universal, but yes, the disenfranchisement of indigenous women is far graver and devastating than that of women in the so-called modern societies. Environmental challenges in general and climate change impacts in particular also add to gender inequality. But I fail to understand why people need to respond to these realities from a place of 'emotions' than a place of 'rationality'. I also visited a booth by a US based university, and they are doing a project with young people across the world to help them relate to climate change with their 'hearts'. 

I have always felt that an accurate understanding of the science is a better way to get the heart involved in solving the large complex challenges that we face today. An understanding of the mitochondrial DNA that links all humans to a single ancestral woman that lived in Africa about 500,000 years ago is a more powerful argument for the kinship and therefore equality of all humans than any emotional appeal to the sense of justice and equality. Understanding the intricate feedback loops and connections between the earth's geological, climatic, and biological systems is essential to understanding the importance of maintaining these systems in their current forms for the survival of our species rather than calling the planet 'mother earth' and ourselves its 'protectors' and 'stewards'. 

The solution to climate change will of course need a wide variety of people to be involved in the fight and different things may motivate different people. But it is concerning to me that modern science is often looked upon as a villain as it is perceived as the trigger for the industrial revolution that heralded climate change. But the same industrial revolution also heralded the communication systems that allow us to connect with all humans across the world. The same industrial revolution also helped us overcome many deadly diseases and increased the average life span of humans. 

Solving climate change is not just about going back to the traditional ways of life because the climatic conditions that exist today have not been experienced by humans at all. The solution to climate change will come through a blending of traditional wisdom and modern scientific thinking. The proponents of both should respect and work with each other rather than looking down upon each other.  






Priyadarshini Karve
Director, Samuchit Enviro Tech
Convener, Indian Network on Ethics and Climate Change (INECC)

Thursday, November 10, 2022

Musings from Priyadarshini Karve: #COP27: Day 3

 #COP27: Day 3


9 November 2022 was officially 'Finance Day'. The negotiators discussed finance for mitigation, adaptation and also for 'loss and damage'. The side events of the day were also focused on the theme of finance. 

As we entered the venue we came across an interesting protest displaying a dinosaur and a Pokémon! A number of young activists were speaking on how climate change induced disasters are affecting their countries. The demand of this protest was 'Stop Funding Fossil Fuels'. 

Stop Funding Fossil Fuels! 

I attended two side events - both organised by members of Climate Action Network (CAN) and focused on 'Adaptation' and 'Loss and Damage'. 

I am going to digress a bit and try to explain these terms. 

When it comes to climate action, the media and public discourse is generally focused on 'Mitigation' - reducing greenhouse gas emissions going into the atmosphere. This is important for slowing down future warming of planet earth. This requires moving away from fossil fuel use and change our land use pattern. Most of the climate finance is currently focused on this aspect. 

However there is also 'Adaptation'. The planet is already about 1.1 deg C warmer than the preindustrial era. This has changed the weather patterns and ecosystems around the world permanently. People now have to change their ways and means of life in order to deal with the changes. Some of the challenges may be solved by behavioural change (for example - change the timing of outdoor work to deal with excessively hot summers) but some require use of technology (for example - rainwater harvesting and storage for better water security in spite of the erratic rainfall). Financing for adaptation has been a contentious issue at COPs for a long time. Developed countries have promised big money but actually provided very little. 

A third front on climate action now is 'Loss and Damage'. As global average temperature has creeped up over the last few decades, many communities across the globe are facing an existential crisis (for example - the Maldives will be totally submerged in a decade or so even if all GHG emissions drop to zero today). As sea levels rise, coastal communities lose their lands and homes and therefore their way of life, culture and traditions. They are getting uprooted and displaced. As certain parts of the world are repeatedly hit by cyclones, people are losing lives and livelihoods. For a long time, the developed countries have tried to argue that dealing with such situations also should be considered 'Adaptation' (and therefore no separate funding is needed for this). But the developing countries have strongly argued that 'Loss and Damage' is happening because both 'Mitigation' and 'Adaptation' are failing. Some countries need urgent help while we strengthen the efforts on Mitigation and Adaptation. Finally, this year financing for 'Loss and Damage' is being discussed. The news is that the countries have agreed to put in place a mechanism for this 'no later than 2024'. 

The first side event in the morning was by CANSA (CAN South Asia) of which INECC is a member. There were presentations from Nepal and Bangladesh talking about how localised and community-centric action with co-operation and collaboration of government is helping these two highly affected countries adapt better and thereby minimise loss and damage. This exactly resonated with our own 'LDC for NDC' concept. Both the presentations also strongly highlighted the importance of the support of government machinery from local to national for more effective adaptation at the local level. 

The final speaker of the event was a Minister from Pakistan. Pakistan is proving to be the showcase of 'Loss and Damage' in this COP. As the minister said - the country suffered an extremely hot summer followed by unprecedented and devastating floods during the monsoon season, and now it is entering what is likely to be an extremely cold winter! Climate change is really hammering them hard from all sides! It is no wonder therefore that the Pakistan pavilion has a caption 'Lost and Damaged' prominently on display. 

One important point that was made in this side event was around the nature of finance. Even though it is a moral obligation of the developed world to help the developing world deal with climate change, 70% of the climate finance available (of all categories) is in the form of debt and that too at very high interest rates! Strong arguments are therefore being made on all fronts that existing debts be written off and future finance not have a 'debt' component. One slide that presented eye opening statistics in this context is what you can see below. 

The Climate Debt Trap

The second side event was organised by CAN and a few collaborators. Its focus was 'Loss and Damage'. It had presentations from Malawi in Africa and Bangladesh. There were also presentations about how women are more affected than men when it comes to loss and damage. All in all there were very moving presentations starkly highlighting the plight of the vulnerable communities. One important point made was that while a lot of funding pours in for disaster relief when a tragedy strikes, not much finance is available for preventive or preparatory measures. It is hoped that the 'Loss and Damage' funding will address this gap. 

As my colleague Pournima pointed out - often in the discussion on loss and damage, the communities come across as helpless and clueless people doing nothing as disasters creep on them. But the ground reality is that communities can exhibit resilience and resourcefulness. They are not totally without any agency of their own! They of course need a helping hand - in the form of finance as well as in the form of knowledge and data. 

The loss and damage finance facility needs to focus on empowering communities to protect and rescue themselves in a sustainable way. Our 'LDC for NDC' process is showcasing some of the success stories of this approach. 


Day 2 Blog

Day 1 Blog


Priyadarshini Karve
Director, Samuchit Enviro Tech
Convener, Indian Network on Ethics and Climate Change (INECC)

Wednesday, November 9, 2022

Musings from Priyadarshini Karve: #COP27: Day 2

 #COP27: Day 2

8 November 2022, the second day of COP27, was an important day for our team. We were going to kick off the calendar of side events! 

While the UNFCCC COP is primarily about various government representatives negotiating the future of state-lead climate action across the world, the observer organisations attending the conference have their own calendar of events. In this COP we have been assigned a booth for 3 days and we were also allotted a slot for a side event. We had applied for a side event a few months ago, but we were waitlisted (many organisations are keen to have their say on the global platform, however there are space and time constraints). We were finally sanctioned a side event after we agreed to merge with another organisation. This happens a lot of the times and generally the collaborators try to present a single cohesive side event of 1.5 hr duration. Sometimes it does not work out that way - which was our case this time. 

We thus had 45 min to say our piece. As the moderator of the session I am happy to say that everything worked smoothly, the speakers stayed on schedule, and we managed to hand over the stage to the next moderator on the 44th minute. I feel rather proud of our team work and planning that made this work in an effortless manner. 

Laya Side Event COP27: 
From L to R: Nakul Sharma, Martin Voss, Myron Mendes, Priyadarshini Karve

So what was our side event about? 

We talked on 'Locally Developed Choices' for 'Nationally Determined Contributions' - LDC for NDC. This is INECC's current theme of action and we wanted to talk about it with the global audience. The gist of our argument is this: 

Paris Agreement is not just about keeping the warming below 1.5 deg C, it also talks about helping the climate-affected populations for adaptation. However, this aspect has always been ignored by the UN negotiators. This year finally the COP is looking at 'Loss and Damage' (more about this in a latter blog!) but the developing countries really had to struggle hard to get the topic on the discussion agenda. If one looks at the NDCs (commitments by individual national governments under Paris Agreement) these too only talk about mitigation. As a result, when climate change impacts hit locally, communities have to fend for themselves. This is however leading to some innovative choices being developed locally (LDC) that can not only achieve adaptation but also contribute to mitigation. For the last couple of years INECC has been trying to document such LDC and trying to build an awareness raising as well as policy advocacy campaign around these initiatives. 

Laya Side Event @ COP27:
Priyadarshini explaining '
LDC for NDC'
In the side event I explained the 'LDC for NDC' concept with the example of lacunae in India's NDC and also briefly described the work we have done so far on this theme. My colleague Myron Mendes presented the case study of Laya's work on resilience building among the indigenous communities in the Eastern Ghats through technology interventions in agriculture and basic services. Nakul Sharma of Climate Action Network South Asia (CANSA) presented a case study of local action for adaptation from Nepal which described a wonderful collaboration between local community groups and local government. The final speaker was Martin Voss of GermanWatch who talked about how the big multilateral banks can and should fund replication of such success stories... but unfortunately are still stuck in the conventional thinking of pouring money into big infrastructure projects. 

Even though we had 4 speakers and only 45 minutes, we had structured the session in such a way as to keep 10 minutes for questions and comments from the floor. And this turned out to be a very good decision! We had an audience of about 20-30 people. A member of the organisation leading the local action in Nepal was present in the audience and gave some additional detail on the case study presented by Nakul. The theme of LDC for NDC seemed to have really resonated with people from Africa in the audience. A couple of them made very moving comments on personal experiences of how the local reality is being ignored by the state-driven 'climate action'. One audience member pointed out the importance of understanding local vulnerabilities to shape adaptation - basically that funding for adaptation and resilience building must be targeted at ecosystem community level rather than at country level.  

All in all, I can say that we managed to get our point across. We felt highly encouraged by the reactions from the audience and hope to build an international momentum behind LDC for NDC! 

The side event was livestreamed and for those who are interested here is the link. We are in the first 45 min.  


Day 1 Blog


Priyadarshini Karve
Director, Samuchit Enviro Tech
Convener, Indian Network on Ethics and Climate Change (INECC)