COP 28 Should Herald New Approach to Climate Change


It is unlikely that COP 28 will ignore the stark and bitter reality of the failure to achieve adequate reduction in GHG emissions. The facts in this context are all too glaring to be ignored. What is important is to face the question—where do we go from here?

As has been seen in the past, past failures do not necessarily lead to course correction. Frequently these have resulted in recommendations of dubious technological fixes which do not really take us any forward and merely create some false hopes. There is increasing talk now of geo-engineering solutions which may end up doing more harm than good. ‘Solutions’ which come up in the form of several big nuclear power projects or large dams to meet energy needs are also likely to be very problematic in their own way.

This is really not a question of technical fixes mainly, but of changing life patterns and basic human thinking and values. When such a serious situation emerges that the basic life nurturing conditions of our planet are seriously endangered by human-made factors, then this is really a way of earth and nature to tell us that the way in which humanity has been living is not sustainable at all, the thinking and values behind it are highly distorted and it has to change in very basic ways in order to protect the highly diverse and beautiful life on earth.

Such important considerations are entirely ignored by those who are used only to thinking in terms of technical fixes and perhaps are only trained to think in such narrow terms.  The fact that many ‘experts’ continue to move within the narrow orbit of such technology-only ‘solutions’ suggests that the vision of a much broader and balanced approach to checking climate is not really being considered adequately by them.

However the time has clearly come for a paradigm shift in examining the climate crisis and its solutions. The most basic reality of nearly a dozen serious environmental problems led by climate change is that these together threaten the essential life-nurturing conditions of our planet. The same threat of disrupting life-nurturing conditions has been created by the accumulation and continuing pursuit of weapons of mass destruction, currently led by but not confined to nuclear weapons. The challenge today is to protect life-nurturing conditions of our planet from any and all sources that threaten them. Unless such a broad and integrated view is taken, no real success can be assured. Even assuming that there are highly successful efforts to check climate change for three decades, the entire achievement can be destroyed by just three days or perhaps just three hours of exchange of nuclear weapons.

Hence it is strongly recommended here that the international summits on climate change should be changed instead into international summits for protecting the basic life-nurturing conditions of our planet.

Once this is accepted, or once we even start thinking in these terms, it is clear that the agenda of environment protection must be integrated very closely with the agenda of peace and disarmament. Both are very close to each other and one cannot be pursued without any real success without integrating it with the other.

Moreover the basic causes of environment destruction on the one hand and war and violence on the other hand are rooted in the related instincts of greed and dominance. The prevailing human values in turn promote these instincts in many ways, increasingly so. The desirability of these widely spread human values and instincts must be checked in many creative ways at the level of families, communities, educational institutions etc. Instead there should be increasing acceptance of values of equality, justice, social harmony, voluntary simplicity, social harmony, cooperation, improved social relationships, community life and seeking happiness in helping others.

Emphasis on these social values helps to create a society which will extend mass support to the agenda of peace and environment protection which is essential for protection of life-nurturing conditions.

Equality and justice in world are increasingly needed as additional carbon constraints or GHG constraints place new and additional limits on the capacity of industrial systems. With these limits, industrial and farming systems must give increasing priority to first meeting the basic needs of all people of the world. This cannot be achieved without much higher commitment to planning based on justice and equality. Hence, as this writer has persistently argued, there is a clear need for linking adequate reduction of GHG emissions with the production of adequate goods and services to meet the basic needs of all people as a top priority.

At present the richest 10 per cent of the world’s population accounts for 90 per cent of carbon burden, testifying to the highly polluting nature of their life-style, and so a move towards equality and justice, together with spreading the value of voluntary simplicity, will certainly help to reduce overall GHG emission load as well.

Once the agenda of checking climate change and checking all threats to life-nurturing conditions is re-defined to include urgent concerns of the masses of poorer people (such as their basic needs being protected), then their support for such efforts will be very strong and sustained, and it is above all such support of people which is most needed for resolving these issues.

Some people may say that all this takes a long of time. But just one decade of very sincere worldwide effort can prove to be a big game-changer. It is with this hope that this writer has been pleading for the UN to declare the next decade as the decade for saving earth, when the world will learn in various ways, in schools and colleges, in families and communities, to give the highest priority to saving the life-nurturing conditions of earth within a framework of justice, peace and democracy.

Bharat Dogra is Honorary Convener, Campaign to Save Earth Now. His recent books include Planet in Peril, Protecting Earth for Children, Earth without Borders, Man over Machine and A Day in 2071.            

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