May 27, 2015

Parliamentarians urged to keep the climate, change the system

Consultation with Policymakers on climate change and the SDGs

A Consultation organized with Members of Parliament, civil society urged them to have strong and principled positions in the climate change and SDGs negations, two critical global treaties that will be negotiated this year. The meeting was organized by Beyond Copenhagen Collective at Constitution Club in Delhi on 11th March 2015. Six Members of Parliament including Anil Madhav Dave, Abhishek Singh, Chandulal Sahu, Ravindra Kumar Pandey, Anupam Hazra, and Lakhan Lal Sahu participated in the Consultation.

Mr. Chandrshekhar Sahu, former Minister, Govt of Chhattisgarh opening the discussion said that the need for this dialogue arises out of lack of parliamentary oversight on the issues, and the effort is to create a regular channel of dialogue with the Parliamentarians. He highlighted the importance of shared understanding and partnership among the stakeholders in facing impacts of climate change and moving towards a low carbon development pathway.
Ajay Jha from Beyond Copenhagen said that while India has provided leadership to developing countries in these discussions, there is a lot of preparation that needs to be done to represent the interests of poor in the climate and SDGs negotiation. He referred to the lack of equity and justice in the international negotiations on climate change and SDGs, and explained that the irony is that even entire atmospheric space is given to the developing countries, they would not be able to take the development at par with the developed countries. In the formulation of the SDGs, he added that in view of lack of means of implementation and global cooperation SDGs will witness the same fate as the MDGs. He lamented on the lack of ambition of developed countries in both the processes. However, he emphasized that people are more concerned on lack of progress and debate on these issues nationally. While he referred to lack of progress in the NAPCC and SAPCCs, he said there is no discussion at all on the SDGs. He suggested that high importance and long lasting impacts of these policies in all countries of the world merits national and parliamentary debates. He underlined that while there is a need to have strong position in the SDGs negotiation, there is also a need to adapt these goals nationally and ensure time bound, meaningful and effective progress on these nationalized goals on sustainable development. He also invited people to bring related issues of local concerns that might have significant bearing on these omnibus issues.

Mr. Om Thanvi, editor, Jansatta said that two communities of the society who can make difference Parliamentarians and media persons are neither aware nor interested in the nuances therefore, there is these issues lack visibility in the public space. He suggested that there should be a continuous dialogue on these new and evolving disciplines with the policymakers and the public.

Mr. Soumya Dutta, from BJVJ said that while in the national policy space there is need for recognition of climate change and proactive actions, in the international negotiation, India needs to increase its physical and intellectual engagement. He also added that in recent negotiations, India has been isolated and seen as a dialogue breaker, while the reality is that country’s per capita emission is still very low compared to other countries and blame should have fallen more on the developed countries. He added that non recognition of adverse impacts of climate change and related disasters in national policy space leads to poor preparation and poorer results both at home as well as in international foras.

Ms. Ranja Sengupta from TWN, said that while India has pitched strongly in favour of poverty and hunger eradication, sustainable consumption and production patterns, enhanced means of implementation in the SDGs negotiations, it need to be careful that goals and targets are not reduced, which will have disastrous effect in view of the enormity of the challenges that we are facing today. She also added that India has expressed reservation on sexual and reproductive rights, on which we expect more progress nationally.

Mr. Pradeep Sharma from Krishak Biradari, shared how the state action plans are made without stakeholders consultation, and have minimal impact on sectoral policies. He said that people in states are questioning the purpose of the Plans. He also shared a citizen led initiative to do climate resilient planning in 100 villages of Chhattisgarh.
Ajita Tiwary from INECC, referred to power and sponge iron projects in Chhattisgarh and their impact on environmental degradation. She added that India needs more preparation for the INDCs that India has to be submit by July this year and the need for a national consensus on INDCs.

Ms. Sandhya Jain, senior columnist, attracted attention towards the plight of forest dwellers and the forests and the urgency to ensure these communities voices in the policymaking.

Mr. Anil Madhav Dave, said that the discussion around these issues have largely focused on the the impacts and probable impacts rather than solutions. He added that since Copenhagen it is clear that a global equitable solution on climate change is not politically feasible. Therefore, we should have more emphasis on national action. He explained that India has a culture and a social spiritual motivation towards environment, which gives an advantage to India as compared to other countries, and therefore, its all the more important that India should provide leadership on these issues. He assured all possible help in expanding this dialogue.

Mr. Abhishek Singh agreed that there is a need for more understanding among policymakers on these issues, and said that government is willing to listen to good suggestions in the spirit of cooperation. He welcomed the initiative and offered all possible help in ensuring that constructive suggestions reach the right audience.

Mr. Chandu Lal Sahu, emphasized the need for more direct engagement with grassroots communities on issues of poverty, and development including environmental conservation and engagement of youth on these issues.

Mr. Ravindra Kumar Pandey, (BJP, MP from Jharkhand) said the country needs energy to take development to all villages, and this might have some environmental costs. However, he also emphasized that in the changed circumstances, sustainability is a bigger concern than it was earlier, therefore we need to strike a balance between developmental needs and environmental conservation.

Mr. Lakhan Lal welcomed the initiative and assured all help in strengthening the dialogue.

Mr. Anupam Hazra (TMC) said that we need to strengthen direct democracy and decentralized planning, which will make policies and programmes more oriented to local needs and responses and enhance climate resilience of the communities. However, he added that India must play a more proactive and engaged role in the international forums, as expectations from India in global cooperation has increased significantly in recent years.  

Mr. Vijay Pratap, (SADED) underlined the need for an institutional arrangement for sustained dialogue with all stakeholders including the communities who have almost no climate footprint, and urged the parliamentarians to work towards creating such a forum.

Mr. Sharad Joshi (CECOEDECON) said that we need to engage with the policymakers across political spectrum on critical issues without any preconceived notions and we must make sure that we present a collective position in coordinated manner rather than working in isolated spaces.

Justice (Retd.) P C Jain delivered the vote of thanks. He underlined that India must enhance engagement on climate change and sustainable development, as these are global issues and require global solutions. However, he added that at the same time we should not lose sight of the fact that there is a greater need for progress in national policy space as India is highly vulnerable and poor people and women are facing disproportionately adverse impacts.


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