Blog Posts by author Sunita Narain | Centre for Science and Environment

Blog Posts by author Sunita Narain


Sunita Narain

Director General of CSE and publisher of Down To Earth, an environmentalist pushing for changes in policies and  practices and mindsets. More>>

20 May 2010

Last fortnight I asked: is India rich enough to pay for the cost of transition to a low-carbon economy? I put the question in the context of current moves in climate change negotiations which demand countries such as India—till now seen as victims of the carbon excesses of the already industrialized world—must now take full responsibility to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The US-sponsored and India-supported Copenhagen Accord rejects the principle of historical responsibility towards climate change, radically changing the global framework of action for ever more.

4 May 2010

Climate change negotiations—cold after the freeze at Copenhagen—have warmed up again. In early April, negotiators met in Bonn, Germany, on the possible agreement that could be signed at the meet scheduled in December 2010 in Mexico. This was followed by a US-convened meet of the Major Economies Forum, better named the major emitters forum, in Washington. Next weekend, the group calling itself BASIC—China, Brazil, South Africa and India—is meeting in Cape Town to come up with its common position on negotiations.

20 April 2010

The massacre of 76 policemen in Dantewada by naxalites is reprehensible. Yet we cannot brush aside the underlying poverty, deprivation and sheer lack of justice that are breeding tension and anger in vast areas of rural, tribal India. We cannot say that these developmental issues are long term—as the Congress spokesperson has reportedly said—while the immediate task is to annihilate the Naxalites.

5 April 2010

There is a buzz about green buildings. But the question is: what does one mean by building green? And how does one design policies to make the green homes of our dreams?

Green is not about first building structures using lots of material and energy, and then fixing them so that they become a little more efficient. Building green is about optimizing on the local ecology, using local material as far as possible and, most importantly, building to cut the power, water and material requirements.

18 March 2010

1411 tigers left. So says the latest advertisement campaign of a new telecom company and the WWF. It is powerful. It plays to our emotions. But it does not tell us what is being done, or should be done. It does not tell us how we, the consuming classes, can be part of the solution to safeguard the tiger.

3 March 2010

There I was, zipping down bustling Ahmedabad. The bus stopped at a station, designed so the doors of the bus and the station open simultaneously to let passengers out and in. People were walking to the station, buying tickets and waiting. A notice flashed when the next bus would arrive. Each bus has a GPS device that transmits its movements to a spiffy control room inside the city corporation. You know when the next bus will come. It will be on time.

16 February 2010

The minister for environment and forests has announced his decision on Bt-brinjal – whether the world’s first genetically modified vegetable should be given permission to be grown and eaten in the country. And before I discuss the issues further, let me also make my own bias clear. I am not an anti-GM-person. In other words, I have no ideological problems with the use of genetically modified technology to improve crop yields. But I am anti-Bt-brinjal and believe the minister is right in not  giving clearance.

4 February 2010

Visiting the US, one thing came home to me: the country has very little political will to cut greenhouse gas emissions. Policy makers and media professionals talk about the climate change crisis. But any opinion on cutting emissions, based on historical or even current responsibility, is just dismissed. The public perception, seemingly carefully nurtured, is it is runaway pollution in China and India that will devastate the world. Indeed, talk about serious action by the US is hushed up, for it will play into the hands of the Republicans.

29 January 2010

A new decade. For me, three decades of work in environment. I wonder: have matters improved since the early 1980s, when I began? Or, are things worse off? Where do we go from here?

12 January 2010

Somebody recently asked me why India supported the Copenhagen Accord. It is correct to say that the proposed accord has no meaningful targets for emission reduction from Annex 1 (industrialized countries). Global emissions will increase or reduce at best marginally.

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