Three Paradigms of Climate Change Response—Time to Make A Clear Choice


The present world is a world based on high levels of glaring inequality, domination, violence and injustice (IDVI), all these four serious problems being related to each other at various levels and responsible for most of the distress. Such a world is now additionally faced by a very serious threat of climate change (and other related environmental problems) which even endangers life nurturing conditions of our planet. How should we respond to this threat?

At the risk of some simplification, there are basically three kinds of responses that are possible.

Firstly there is a response which seeks to resolve the crisis in ways that will also reduce significantly the related problems of IDVI. This will greatly reduce inequalities, weapons and all violence including wars. This will link assurance of basic needs of all people to huge reduction of GHG emissions within a specified time frame. This will include important governance reform.This is the best and the most sustainable solution as it solves all basic problems at the same time. It is only by following this path that mass mobilisation of people on this issue is possible. This has tremendous potential for beautiful creativity of people and excellent use of science and technology. This response can be called  Holistic And Justice, Peace –Yes  (HAJPY).

The second response can be on the basis of maintaining status quo regarding IDVI and somehow trying to reduce GHG emissions within the existing framework of IDVI based world, also improving adaptation to climate change to the extent possible within existing constraints. In this approach arms race, weapons of mass destruction, trends towards space warfare, wars and violence, industrial farming, glaring inequalities at many levels, proliferation of billionaires, escalating luxury consumption of some persons etc. continue as before. The current UN Framework and its conferences provide a response which is close to this. This can be called Reducing Emissions Within Unjust Systems (REUS) Response.

The third response is one in which powerful forces try to use climate change as an opportunity for further increasing their power, ruthless exploitation  and suppression of others (OPRES response)  while inflicting even more injustice and deprivation on common people as well as already marginalized sections. Signs and preparations of such a response can be seen already. This can involve very destructive use of untested technology with unforeseen, potentially catastrophic consequences.

All these three responses—HAJPY, REUS and OPRES–  are possible at this stage and it will be a matter of political mobilisation which will decide in what direction the world will eventually move. However it is important to understand clearly the various responses and the choices open to the world today.

It is also clear that these are times of critical importance and the coming decade in particular will be of great significance in this context. It is very important in this context to emphasize that the task of resolving the problem of climate change (as well as related serious environmental problems) should be attempted and achieved within a framework of justice, peace and democracy. For such an approach to gather strength there is need also for  declaring the next decade 2022-32 as the decade for saving earth, a decade in which the message of protecting life-nurturing conditions of earth within a framework of justice, peace and democracy will be most emphasized and constantly spread among people, particularly youth and children.

Bharat Dogra is Honorary Convener, Campaign to Save Earth Now with its SED Demand (declaration of decade of saving earth). His recent books include ‘Protecting Earth for Children’, ‘Planet in Peril’, ‘Earth Beyond Boundaries’ and ‘Man Over Machine-A Path to Peace’.

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