Archive for the 'India' Category

Cycles of Change: Pedaling to Empowerment in Dhaka

“I think the bicycle has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world. It gives a woman a feeling of freedom and self-reliance. The moment she takes her seat she knows she can’t get into harm unless she gets off her bicycle, and away she goes, the picture of free, untrammeled womanhood.” – Susan B Anthony

While we all know that bicycling is a critical alternative mode of transportation, those living in cities of bike lanes and traffic laws often forget just how challenging riding bicycles can be, and just how empowering and emancipating it can be. The following is crossposted from the India Climate Solutions blog, written by Rudmila Rahman of Arohi Cycling

On Friday, February 25, a group of 30 passionate women from diverse walks of life got on their bicycles and rode through Dhaka to promote bicycles as an alternative means of mobility for women in Bangladesh. We cycled more than 5 kilometers together, through the streets of Dhaka, in the rally organized by Arohi – Bangladesh’s first women’s cycling initiative aimed to gather a critical mass of individuals who are interested to promote cycling for women in Bangladesh in order to ride a bicycle to work, school or for recreation, with an aim to break the stigma attached to a girl on a cycle.

They believe this, in turn, will promote freedom of mobility in Dhaka for women, as well as a cleaner environment. Bangladeshi women face significant barriers from family, neighbors and society in getting on a bike a riding around town in bright daylight. Freedom of mobility is seriously curtailed in Dhaka if women don’t feel safe to travel independently in their own city. Over 35% of female commuters in Dhaka depend on a cycle rickshaw and as more major roads ban these rickshaws, daily mobility for women is threatened furthermore. Arohi’s tagline: “Pedaling the way to empowerment” summarizes the links that we plan to draw between cycles, mobility and empowerment.
Continue reading ‘Cycles of Change: Pedaling to Empowerment in Dhaka’

UN Agrees Moratorium on Geoengineering Experiments!

Moratorium in Nagoya!
Nagoya, Japan: News Release | 29 October 2010 |

Geoengineering Moratorium at UN Ministerial in Japan

Risky Climate Techno-fixes Blocked

NAGOYA, Japan – In a landmark consensus decision, the 193-member UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) will close its tenth biennial meeting with a de facto moratorium on geoengineering projects and experiments.   “Any private or public experimentation or adventurism intended to manipulate the planetary thermostat will be in violation of this carefully crafted UN consensus,” stated Silvia Ribeiro, Latin American Director of ETC Group.

The agreement, reached during the ministerial portion of the two-week meeting which included 110 environment ministers, asks governments to ensure  that no geoengineering activities take place until risks to the environmental and biodiversity and associated social, cultural and economic impacts risks have been appropriately considered as well as the socio-economic impacts. The CBD secretariat was also instructed to report back on various geoengineering proposals and potential intergovernmental regulatory measures. Continue reading ‘UN Agrees Moratorium on Geoengineering Experiments!’

Are the Himalayan Glaciers melting? Why not see for yourself?

These mountains in the depths of district of Chamba in the state of Himachal Pradesh (India) used to have a lot more snow.

In recent times I’ve been reading a lot about climate change not being real. First the climate gate scandal followed by the many articles attacking the IPCC for incorrectly publishing information on the glaciers melting in the Himalayas by 2035. Climate scientists, economics, politicians and business persons are being interviewed left, right and centre.

The question on the lips of the public is – what is the truth? The truth is such an interesting thing – where more often than not, it is a human tendency for a person to believe what they want to hear.

I pose a question to all people who are jumping on the bandwagon of denying the Himalayan glacier melt due to an error made by the IPCC, and denying the existence of climate change. How many of you have been to the Himalayas? How many of you have spoken to the citizens in the mountains of India and Nepal who have spent their whole lives there?

Very few of you – if any. Continue reading ‘Are the Himalayan Glaciers melting? Why not see for yourself?’

Battle Until Dawn for Humanity’s Survival

It is 6:13 am and in the Bella Conference Center I am listening to the chair of the AOSIS (Association of Small Island States) trying to fight off uncontrollable tears. I am almost certain that the Group of 77 (a behemoth of 130 plus developing country states) is coming to an end. Countries are divided and I am witnessing accusations fly across the plenary. Why has it taken us so long to arrive at this point? We sit here with the “Copenhangen Accord” staring at our faces. It is a document full of hot air and is not what billions of people across the planet had been promised to deliver atmospheric restitution. Once again the developed nations have managed to gain somewhat of an upper hand in the wake of greater sacrifices of the larger developing countries.

That aside, negotiators had feared from day one of the talks that the documents and the process of negotiating would not mature to the point required in order to allow negotiations to move into the high level segment where over 100 Heads of States would come to sign a just climate deal. Their fears were realized. The process has been deeply flawed and the voices of nations regarding lack of transparency, conspiracy to kill off the Kyoto protocol has been true. I often found myself being witness to the injustice within the UNFCCC process (where had I not gone to certain meetings, I would have missed out on joint drafting sessions which I assumed were only scheduled G-77 coordination meetings). Text messages were sent, rooms were changed, information was not available to all.

Continue reading ‘Battle Until Dawn for Humanity’s Survival’

A Video about Survival: Rising Tide

I am proud to announce the arrival of the mini-documentary, Rising Tides: Sunderbands, India. This documentary is the work of the India, Asia team of Project Survival Media. I asked team leader Ekta Kothari to tell me about her experience making the film, and she did!

“The story was incredibly powerful to film. I could never put the experience into words, but let me try to paint you a picture:

The Sunderbans is a place with many riches – An archipelago of mangrove ecosystems, and home to the Royal Bengal Tigers, boasting a biodiversity extremely rich in flora and fauna – right next door to my city, Kolkata.

And yet, the first time I visited these islands, all I could find was devastation. Continue reading ‘A Video about Survival: Rising Tide’

Why Annex 1 Guys Can Be A Good Date After All

Fergus Auld – First Secretary, Climate Change and Energy; Climate Change and Energy Unit; British High Commission-DFID India 


My favourite blog from the last few weeks came from Leela Raina of the Indian Youth Climate Network. Tracking one of the Indian negotiators at the UN negotiations in Bangkok, she came up with eleven cruelly funny reasons for “Why I Shouldn’t Date an Annex-1 Guy”. You can see the full link at

Now I’m a happily married man with three beautiful children, but I still feel the need to defend the good name of at least some of us Annex-1 guys. So I’ve compiled a list of ten good reasons “Why Annex-1 Guys Can Be A Good Date After All” in response to Leela’s:


1.      He is not willing to COMMIT.

We’re not afraid of commitments. We Europeans have already opened our hearts, and we’re ready to go even further if shown a little more love. We’re not alone. Our Japanese buddies have shown they’re in the mood for love, and after Bangkok nobody could doubt how serious those Norwegian guys are.

And we’re looking for a long-term relationship. We’re not just after a five year fling, or a relationship that ends in 2020 – we’re offering the best years of our lives, right up to 2050.

Continue reading ‘Why Annex 1 Guys Can Be A Good Date After All’

Water: When Nightmares Come True

Retreating Lake Naivasha in May

I always thought it was a little overly dramatic when people used to say, with that gleam of fire in their eyes and intense certainty in their voices, “The next world war will be fought over water.” I didn’t notice their resigned sadness after saying that and seeing the response of the audience, of my response.

Water wars, we imagined, were decades away. Climate refugees fleeing drought and devastation would be seen in generations, not in ours. People would recognize when resources were becoming so scarce and develop cooperative strategies for conservation long before it came to the point of fighting over them. Right?

The sad climate “joke” five years ago was that we’d need to bring melting icebergs to sub-Saharan Africa to support life. But in Kenya today, aid workers are already flying water in from other countries. Today, thousands of men and women are already dying from lack of the most basic human need — water.

From NY Times: An elderly woman is given water in the Turkana region of Kenya. Many of the elderly are too weak and sick to feed themselves or drink

Today, when I repeat the phrase – “Wars will be fought over water” – with the same confidence and intensity, the same fire, and the same resigned sadness, I know that fights over water are not generations – or even years – away. We may not have another world war, but I have no question that we will see more devastation and violence, if we need to see any more than the lives being lost every day in Kenya.

There is no water to drink, let alone have water to wash hands to prevent the spread of diarrheal diseases. There is no water to drink, let alone have water to farm. Lakes have been retreating for years as water is used for farming, for geothermal energy, and for survival, and the lakes’ disappearances are threatening not only water animals like flamingos and hippos, but all of the biodiversity for which Kenya is famous.

NYT: "'We eat once a day, said Mrs. Bai, 65, explaining how she and her family had survived the lack of rain."

At the same time, in India, thousands of farmers commit suicide annually due to desperation caused by cycles of debt, but also cycles of increasing drought and irregular rain. Farmers who would rather die than face the shame and sadness of watching their families die of starvation, have killed not only themselves but their families as well. This year has been one of India’s worst monsoons in recent history, with too little rains coming too late, and often all at once.

On the brink of death, is there a question of anything but desperation?

Read more on what we can expect – and what we can do. Continue reading ‘Water: When Nightmares Come True’

G20: A Future We Deserve

The following was part of a press briefing at the US Climate Action Network Organized press conference in Pittsburgh, USA coinciding with the G-20 Summit.  International youth gathered together to voice concerns over the need to “green” the economic recovery of the planet–high on the agenda of the world leaders gathered there. Youth Press Advisory

Two years ago at the UN Climate negotiations in Bali, Indonesia, I happened to have the opportunity to attend as a member of the US youth delegation (because I was studying in the US). Upon arriving at the negotiations and after countless hours spent submitting our policy proposals to the UN Convention I realized that there is a growing and vibrant youth movement dedicated to the cause. These youth are actively trying to influence the negotiations. I became conscious of the fact that there were not any Indian youth in this growing international youth caucus present on the sidelines of the conference. I decided to introduce myself to the Indian Government negotiators as a “youth representative.” I was met with a cold and blank stare and then asked, “youth? Shouldn’t they have the same view as their elders?” I knew then that my life would never be the same again.

To be fair, I respect my elders and I know that there are many out there who are on the “far side of fifty” (age 50 that is) who have worked hard to make the world a better place. Generations have come and gone and nearly all of them have had a defining issue to tackle. My generation, labeled the “silent generation” by Thomas Friedman, is caught behind our computers and on facebook, having struggled to come to terms with the seemingly perfect world with an uncertain future of which we are not in control.Many in the climate movement are aware of the political deadlock between developed and developing nations over the issue of climate equity and historical emissions and responsibilities. Though we claim to be talking climate for the sake of future generations, nothing that we are doing is actually putting future generations in a better environment than that enjoyed by generations passed. So let’s get serious about generational equity because those in control sure aren’t.

While the climate crisis looms, we are currently consumed by a financial crisis that has gripped the planet.Just as financial institutions played with the public’s money, we are playing with the global commons that is our climate. We already know the impacts of unabated borrowing of money that does not exist. Can we play the same game with the lives of future generations as we borrow for our unsustainable growth today?

Global leaders are meeting at the summit in Pittsburgh and on the agenda is rebuilding the planet’s economy and hopefully, cooling down the planet. Let us turn this economic crisis into an opportunity of global proportions and usher a new era of genuine, sustainable development. I come from a young country—75% youth–that is facing many challenges. My own ancestral home in the desert sands of western Rajasthan only received electricity a year ago—electricity promised to my grandfather 25 years ago. Yet it is a land bursting with opportunity. Sure enough there is an army of youth in India that are ready to take that stand and that are dreaming of a clean, green country – one which will take this opportunity to build a green economy and support the growth of a green jobs movement. With 500 million people still in the dark, there are millions to be trained in sustainable energy enterprises alone. Let us not forget that this is a country that has half a million engineers graduating annually—a potentially potent force to engineer the country into the paragon of sustainable development.

While youth are 48% of the global population they are not an official part of the negotiation process at the international level. Though many of us are silent, many more are launching revolutions to transform our local communities. I was transformed by my experience in Bali and knew that in the labyrinth process of the negotiations all sense of urgency—of our future—is lost. This hopelessness was transcended through the creation of the Indian Youth Climate Network (IYCN) which has grown in waves and caught the attention of young people, civil society, companies and the same government that questioned the role of youth on the topic two years ago. Similarly youth movements for the cause are rising across the planet—daring governments to break the deadlock. We envision a future which ensures the survival of all peoples and all nations. The debate is old and it is time for some fresh air. A bail-out for the planet is a bailout we will not regret.

Hunger Strike: Climate Justice Fast!

Under certain circumstances, fasting is the one weapon God has given us for use in times of utter helplessness.

- Ghandi

Martin Luther King said that

A man who won’t die for something is not fit to live.

Our grandparents went to battle as soldiers in the second world war ready to lay down their lives for the freedom of their nations. We have a comparable if not bigger threat in climate change.

Who am I to say that I’m not going to make that sort of sacrifice?
Even if there is damage to myself, it’s nothing compared to the global catastrophe that we are heading for if we fail to solve this crisis.

Check out Deepa Gupta’s earlier post here

Fasting for Justice on Climate Change

mahatma-gandhiWho knows what it feels like to go hungry for a meal, a day, or a few days? Probably most of us. But who knows what it feels like to go hungry for a week, two weeks, three weeks, four weeks?

Very few of us.

When I think of people going hungry for weeks on end, I think of the people on this planet who are living in drought ridden land which won’t yield the crops they have been waiting for. I think of those people who are thwarted by the changing monsoon patterns who can’t predict when to plant their seeds. I think of people who have been victims to a hurricane or flood and have loss access to food and water. I think of the victims of climate change: past, present and future.

But that’s not all.

When I think of people going hungry for weeks on end I also think of determination, dedication, vision and sacrifice. I think of the hunger strikes lead by Gandhi in India’s fight for independence from a British oppression. I think of civil society rising up and reclaiming their power and asking for what is just, what is right. I think of non-violence, of peace and of love.

And now, I think of the Climate Justice Fast.

Continue reading ‘Fasting for Justice on Climate Change’