About Copenhagen


This is a topic which a lot of people are discussing. These discussions tend to be quite interesting at times, and whoever is discussing seems to bring a lot of passion to it, though of course the direction your passion flows to depends on your viewpoint. I try to be not passionate about the topic, but its a little difficult, which is why i havent written about this till now. But there would be a time when i would need to write what i feel about Copenhagen and our stand there vis a vis what the other nations would do.

The edit in the Hindustan Times today was quite interesting. There are a few things which come out of this. To quote:

But no one, other than a starry-eyed few, doubts such a shift will carry a large economic price tag. While they may be cloaked in planet-saving language, the fact remains that climate change negotiations will be about which country will bear how much of this price.

This is a very important consideration when it comes to negotiations. One step more than required and the government could be seen to be selling out and one step less and the government could be seen to be not doing enough for the sake of the survival of our home, the only planet we can call home. Which is what makes the entire negotiations very tricky. However, it should not be so tricky, i think. Let me try to explain why.

To begin with, we, and not just we, but all nations of the world must understand that in this negotiation there wont be a scenario where some win and some lose. Either all will win or all will lose. If we are able to bring the Earth back from the brink of disaster (which is where we may find our planet to be at) we all will win, and if we arent able to, then we all lose. Its as much our climate as it is any other country’s. Its our planet as much as others. Having said that, though, there is also the aspect which we must understand and that is that every nation, including India, has developmental needs (perhaps India more than a lot of nations) which we need to aspire to, and the question is how best we can meet those needs while ensuring we minimize damage to the planet. The problem as i see it is that a lot of nations seem to believe that they can win the game even if others lose.

If thats not correct, and all nations understand that either everyone wins or no one does, then the question comes down to negotiating who will pay how much of the cost for cleaning the environment. One aspect that we need to understand is that India and China, countries representing a third of humanity have a need for development which is much greater than a large part of the world. Bring in another dimension and the developed world needs to understand that the use-and-throw culture is probably something which needs to be a thing os the past and that no country can afford to follow the path of waste. Instead, nations need to follow more the dictum to reduce-reuse-recycle if we are to save the planet. There was an article in the Times of India today which mentions that Americans waste 40% of their food. Now, this is a lifestyle which has been developed over a period of generations but having said that there needs to be an understanding that this cannot be afforded much longer if we are to save the world. While maybe two decades ago this might be a sign of affluence, it shouldnt be seen in the same light today.

To cut a long story short, we need to understand that the cost needs to be paid (the HT article puts it quite well) and at the same time the world needs to understand that this is an opportunity which hopefully comes only once (to save the planet) and that we need to grab this opportunity with both hands and understand that either all win or all lose. Once we can do that, we can understand that we can build a world which is far more comfortable with itself. One aspect which we need to build into the cost models is that there is a cost associated with the human potential which lies untapped in two of the most populous countries in the world, and this cost must also be factored into the cost calculations which i am sure everyone is talking about.

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