Linking Justice  to Environment Protection –  Meeting Basic Needs of All While Also Reducing GHG Emissions

earth nature

            While the very pressing need to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is very widely recognized at the scientific level, this can become an issue of mass mobilization only if this is also linked to justice based issues.

When world level planning for reducing GHG emissions is linked to meeting the basic needs of all people, then this will be a plan in which all weaker sections will have a vital stake.

While GHG emissions certainly need to be reduced, millions of people who are denied basic needs also require better access to resources. The planning for reducing GHG emissions should be such that this reduction can take place at the same time and in ways which ensure that basic needs of all people are met.

In such planning the two crucial objectives of environment protection and justice meet and support each other and improve the support base of each other.

Such planning can be based on these precepts –

  1. A plan to increase the production of food, other goods and services to meet the basic needs of all in the world should be prepared, together with the most environment friendly and least GHG emitting technologies that can be used for this purpose. This plan should be implemented in such a way as to ensure maximum local self-reliance in meeting basic needs, so that unnecessary transport is avoided and maximum local employment is generated.
  2. The socio-economic changes that are needed to ensure that the adequate availability of all goods and services to meet all basic needs can actually be accessed by all should be identified and implemented.
  3. Farming and village based life and livelihood patterns should get more help and priority compared to big industry and city based life and livelihood patterns. Small-farmer based farming using environment friendly methods to produce healthy food with kind care of farm-animals should get the top-most priority and help.
  4. All wasteful forms of consumption will be listed carefully and quantified. Those forms of wasteful consumption which involve particularly high GHG emissions will also be identified and quantified. A time-bound plan will be prepared to reduce all wasteful consumption as much as possible.
  5. In particular an effort will be made to stop the production of all weapons to the maximum extent possible. In addition to the previously known reasons for disarmament, we now have the additional reason of trying to curb all wasteful/harmful manufacture due to the urgent need to reduce GHG emissions.
  6. Possibilities of war and civil strife should be minimized, as apart from causing enormous distress to people modern wars and the preparation for such wars involve a lot of GHG emissions.
  7. All new technologies that are necessary for reducing GHG emissions and related objectives should be free from patents so that these can be used as widely as possible whenever needed. But technology transfer has its limits and local solutions for local problems should get the most encouragement while keeping the door open for any input from outside when needed.
  8. As far as possible, no remaining natural forests should be cut. Timber needs should be curtailed as much as possible. Forest-dwellers or people living near forests should get first rights over minor forest produce, while also accepting responsibility for protecting forests. They should not be displaced but instead should be involved (with adequate incentives) in the protection of forests and wild life.
  9. Very high priority should be given to reducing pollution and protecting habitats so that conditions for the healthy living of all life forms, whether on land or in water, can improve significantly.
  10. Energy planning should focus on replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy and other technologies which avoid or minimize GHG emissions and are environment friendly.
  11. Top priority should be given to protecting fresh water sources and conserving water.
  12. All hazardous products, technologies, substances and chemicals should be carefully monitored and reduced.

A very important aspect of this plan is that this brings the movements of justice, environment protection and peace very close to each other and the demands of all these movements are reconciled to become mutually supportive towards each other.

Bharat Dogra is a freelance journalist who has been involved with several social movements.



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