Posted by: Bittu Sahgal on
Aug 25, 2011
Yesterday, together with Prerna Bindra, I met with the Parliamentary Forum on Global Warming and Climate Change, Chaired by Rajiv Pratap Rudy.
We made a presentation to them on the umbilical connection between wildlife, forests and climate change. I was absolutely delighted to see that NOT EVEN ONE out of the 14 Members of Parliament, or the eight government officials and scientists, were climate skeptics! They listened patiently to us for 45 minutes and raised very pointed questions about what could be done, what likely impacts would be felt, how soon and whether any studies have been conducted to outline the financial contribution of ecosystem services that flowed from forests, rivers, lakes, corals and coasts. MPs representing hill states such as Sikkim and Uttarkhand felt that a special resolution from the Forum should be circulated to Parliament asking for mountains to be specially protected with an eye on their potential to moderate climate, biodiversity and water regimes. Hopefully our Prime Minister will hear from these MPs and may feel inclined to make a very strong public appearance on television to inform citizens, particularly farmers and fisherfolk (600 million people!) about the latest developments in our understanding of climate change, its causes and its potential impacts on the lives of Indians.
The cornerstone of our presentation was to highlight that restoring natural ecosystems -- wetlands, grasslands, forests, corals, coasts, rivers, mountains -- was the best possible way to sequester and store atmospheric carbon. Also that the disproportionate subsidies for dirty-carbon energy such as kerosene and diesel had to be slowly shifted to non-carbon sources, both for individuals and for industry. We also suggested that between 30 and 50 million Indians would need to be gainfully employed over the next decade to restore such ecosystems and that this would end up boosting India's water, food and economic security.