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Climate change a justice issue now

By Staff reporter

GUWAHATI, April 22 � Addressing participants in a two-day national workshop on �Climate Change and Climate Justice in North East India� organised at Guwahati on April 21-22, Dr Walter Fernandes of the North Eastern Social Research Centre (NESRC) said that the rich destroy the environment for their own benefit but the poor pay the price. �Climate change has, therefore, become a justice issue particularly in the Northeast,� said Fernandes.

Dr Nafisa Goga D�Souza, convener Indian Network for Ethics and Climate Change (INECC), in her presentation, spoke about the international negotiations on climate change during the last fifteen years.

�Through the Kyoto Protocol of 1997, the rich countries bound themselves legally to reduce emissions by 5.2 percent below 1990 levels. In reality, the emissions have increased because their citizens are not ready to change their lifestyle,� said D�Souza.

Journalist PK Das spoke about the threats of climate change to the communities of the Northeast and asked whether they are being asked to pay the price of the lifestyle of the middle class in the rest of India that involves higher consumption. He raised the question of climate change impacting the traditional knowledge base and practices of the indigenous communities of the region.

In his presentation, Dr Partha J Das of Aaranyak, an environment NGO based at Guwahati, showed the impact of climate change on the Brahmaputra, which is not limited to floods. �It can have far more serious consequences as it changes the surrounding environment completely,� said Das.

Confirming this, Dr Melvil Pereira, Director, NESRC, showed the impact of the changes on food security on the farming and fishing communities in the Brahmaputra basin. Ariful Hussain of NEST said that the lack of food security is visible in the Northeast as a whole. Amba Jamir dwelt on the implications of food insecurity for the youth.

In Manipur and Assam, climate change is felt in the form of uneven and erratic rain, droughts and change in temperature. Journalist Linda Chhakchuak showed how because of these causes, Mizoram is at any time only a few days away from rice shortage. Drug-resistant malaria has made a comeback. Mumai Pheiga from Manipur drew attention to fewer Siberian migratory birds during the last few years and tourism and people�s economy suffering. K Richard of Jakhama said that the main causes in Nagaland are cutting of forests for timber in the rest of India, too many vehicles and methane gas because of people�s eating habits.

Ajita Tiwari, coordinator of INECC, critiqued the National Climate Action Plan and the eight Missions linked to it. The Action Plan begins with good principles such as raising the share of solar power, ensuring energy efficiency, decentralising energy distribution and equitable water distribution.

Civil society groups have to search for people-oriented and environment-friendly alternatives. Kamal Medhi of Samrakhshan Trust, Garo Hills, told the participants about the destruction being caused by the present form of coal mining by individuals, the breakup of the community ownership system and the destruction of forests. Samrakshan tries to counter it through community-based conservation, benefit-sharing mechanisms for non-timber forest produce and eco-tourism.

Discussing the official alternatives such as the carbon sink, jathropa plantations and dams, Ramananda Wangeirapkam of Imphal said that such measures cannot solve the serious problems created by climate change.

The participants decided on follow up in the form of awareness building within their own States.

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Climate change a justice issue now

GUWAHATI, April 22 � Addressing participants in a two-day national workshop on �Climate Change and Climate Justice in North East India� organised at Guwahati on April 21-22, Dr Walter Fernandes of the North Eastern Social Research Centre (NESRC) said that the rich destroy the environment for their own benefit but the poor pay the price. �Climate change has, therefore, become a justice issue particularly in the Northeast,� said Fernandes.

Dr Nafisa Goga D�Souza, convener Indian Network for Ethics and Climate Change (INECC), in her presentation, spoke about the international negotiations on climate change during the last fifteen years.

�Through the Kyoto Protocol of 1997, the rich countries bound themselves legally to reduce emissions by 5.2 percent below 1990 levels. In reality, the emissions have increased because their citizens are not ready to change their lifestyle,� said D�Souza.

Journalist PK Das spoke about the threats of climate change to the communities of the Northeast and asked whether they are being asked to pay the price of the lifestyle of the middle class in the rest of India that involves higher consumption. He raised the question of climate change impacting the traditional knowledge base and practices of the indigenous communities of the region.

In his presentation, Dr Partha J Das of Aaranyak, an environment NGO based at Guwahati, showed the impact of climate change on the Brahmaputra, which is not limited to floods. �It can have far more serious consequences as it changes the surrounding environment completely,� said Das.

Confirming this, Dr Melvil Pereira, Director, NESRC, showed the impact of the changes on food security on the farming and fishing communities in the Brahmaputra basin. Ariful Hussain of NEST said that the lack of food security is visible in the Northeast as a whole. Amba Jamir dwelt on the implications of food insecurity for the youth.

In Manipur and Assam, climate change is felt in the form of uneven and erratic rain, droughts and change in temperature. Journalist Linda Chhakchuak showed how because of these causes, Mizoram is at any time only a few days away from rice shortage. Drug-resistant malaria has made a comeback. Mumai Pheiga from Manipur drew attention to fewer Siberian migratory birds during the last few years and tourism and people�s economy suffering. K Richard of Jakhama said that the main causes in Nagaland are cutting of forests for timber in the rest of India, too many vehicles and methane gas because of people�s eating habits.

Ajita Tiwari, coordinator of INECC, critiqued the National Climate Action Plan and the eight Missions linked to it. The Action Plan begins with good principles such as raising the share of solar power, ensuring energy efficiency, decentralising energy distribution and equitable water distribution.

Civil society groups have to search for people-oriented and environment-friendly alternatives. Kamal Medhi of Samrakhshan Trust, Garo Hills, told the participants about the destruction being caused by the present form of coal mining by individuals, the breakup of the community ownership system and the destruction of forests. Samrakshan tries to counter it through community-based conservation, benefit-sharing mechanisms for non-timber forest produce and eco-tourism.

Discussing the official alternatives such as the carbon sink, jathropa plantations and dams, Ramananda Wangeirapkam of Imphal said that such measures cannot solve the serious problems created by climate change.

The participants decided on follow up in the form of awareness building within their own States.