Where does the environment stand?

Imlisanen Jamir

The climate is in crisis.

We will be facing ecological catastrophe and climate breakdown in the very near future if those in power don’t act urgently and radically to change our trajectory. Scientists have been giving increasingly dire warnings about the state of our planet for years, with the urgency and severity of their message escalating in recent times. It’s abundantly clear: change is needed, and it’s needed now!

With the Lok Sabha elections just around the corner, it is disconcerting to see that political parties across the spectrum have given little to no emphasis towards environmental and specifically climate change policies.

Political parties must make bold and adequate pledges on combating climate change in their manifestos for the upcoming national election.

It is true that many political parties project their candidate as being “pro-environment” and this practice has become more pervasive over successive elections, leading many parties to promote a “green” vision, albeit the space given to this issue is sparse.

Unfortunately for India’s people and natural resources, these are mostly empty slogans, unsubstantiated with action or political vision. None of these political parties were ever held publicly accountable for making empty electoral promises on environmental protection and climate change.

Political parties must understand that neither sustainable development goals nor middle-income status is achievable without addressing climate change.

A developing country which continues to face dual challenges of unemployment and poverty, needs to balance environment concerns with needs for rapid large-scale industrialisation. That economic engine along with accelerated urbanisation will put immense pressure on India’s Green Report card — and that is a juggling act political leaders and administrators will need to master.

A World Bank Report released in June 2018 said that climate change could reduce India’s GDP by 2.5 per cent and lower living standards of nearly half the country’s people by 2050. The UNIPCC report states that a 1.5 degrees Celsius increase in the global temperature would have the most serious impact on “disadvantaged and vulnerable populations” in areas such as food insecurity, lost livelihood opportunities, and adverse health impacts.

Given the severity of the problem, and the real life effects that are being felt at home and all corners of the world, it is imperative that the political parties recognize climate change as a matter of top priority. It is also pertinent that the electorate demand such from the political class, while also holding them accountable for promises, if any, made in this regard.

Comments can be sent to imlisanenjamir@gmail.com