We just watched another episode of the political theater of the COP 17 in Durban, where the only major development was the extension of the Kyoto Protocol until 2017 and the initiation of the formulation of a new framework which is to be implemented by 2020. Well, my friends in the Carbon Trade will be breathing a sigh of relief! Climate Change is a political issue as any issue related to development is. This a systemic issue which is inter-twined with food, water and energy security dimensions to it. Of course Climate Change solutions will be technological with fuel and material substitution, carbon sequestration and retrofitting of existing systems. But we can’t afford to take a technologically deterministic perspective. Often the differential between beautiful policy on paper and practical implementation is sensible action. The community needs have to be factored into any mitigation plan. Usually communities on the climate change warfront are so usually the most vulnerable. There are livelihood challenges which communities face, as they mostly depend on nature for their sustenance whether it is chopping off trees for fuel or are dependent on fishing or subsistence agriculture. All these vocations are intricately linked to the well being of the environment. As an old native American saying goes that, we cannot eat money after the natural resources are polluted and plundered. All Climate Change solutions have to be drafted from a local perspective. The urban poor, often excluded from the equation, are vulnerable as water access and housing are a challenge.
Policy making is politics in action, climate change is a aggravating the divide between haves and have nots in many parts of the world. Decentralizing energy generation and sourcing it from biomass and wind/solar is a way towards manufacturing independence and hence social resilience in the light of an extreme event, the manifestation of climate change. Hot spots of climate change such as the Sudan-Chad border, where cross boundary refugee crisis is a huge problem or the Maldives where its existence is under threat itself.
Water security is a massive problem as Climate Change is changing weather precipitation patterns, and hence indirectly impacts Food production. Water storage effects hydroelectric power production. All these have ‘local’ expressions, and hence when demography gets impacted also impacts the results at the ballot box. This is Politics 101. Lets think of the Climate Challenge issue in a holistic manner, and not in a patch-work piecemeal approach till the next disaster knocks at the door.