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THE CITIZEN BUREAU | 17 SEPTEMBER, 2019

‘Keep the Climate, Change the Economy’: Meeting on Climate Crisis in Hyderabad

Organising amid a probable mass extinction and irreversible damage to the global climate


NEW DELHI: South Asian People’s Action on Climate Crisis, an umbrella organisation of individuals and civil society organisations across the subcontinent, will take shape this week in Hyderabad at a launch meeting to run from September 18 to 21.

The meeting funded by donations from the public has been organised by a number of organisations from India and Sri Lanka: trade unions, and organisations working to address environmental, tribals’, farmers’ and civil rights concerns.

According to the organisers, the over 250 delegates expected to attend will include “young people, women, farmers, workers, fisherfolk, scientists, and laypersons worried about how climate change will impact them, their children and their livelihoods, and who wish to act collectively to mitigate it.”

The core demands put forward by SAPACC are:

Sustainability: By 2030, emissions by developed nations must become net zero (carbon dioxide emissions must equal sequestration, or removal from the atmosphere) and of developing nations by 2040. Gross global consumption should be reduced to sustainable levels.

Equity: The ratio of maximum to minimum income or energy consumption for all people in the world should not exceed two.

Democracy: Governance should be decentralised and democratic; all governance information should be in the public domain.

Restoration: Degraded land, water, air, and to the extent possible, biodiversity should be restored to their pre-industrial period quality.

Responsibility: All nations and regions should take responsibility for the impacts of climate change —displacement, property loss, environmental damage, etc— in proportion to their historic emissions, from 1800 to date.

Besides raising public awareness mobilising mass actions, the participating organisations intend to flesh out these objectives into policy proposals and press south Asian governments to publicly commit to taking time-bound action to mitigate the ongoing climate crisis.

As the SAPACC website describes:

“Since the industrial revolution began, human society has emitted a massive amount of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, raising its concentrations to an unprecedented 415 parts per million today, or 50% over pre-industrial times.

This has destabilised our climate and already caused an average global temperature rise of a little over 1°C.

The consequences are rapid glacier melt, rising sea levels, acidifying oceans, greater monsoon unpredictability, more extreme weather events such as heat waves and heavy rainfall, which pose a grave threat to both the natural world and to human society.

The acceleration in the rate of change of climate change impacts today is worrisome: Himalayan glaciers are melting twice as fast as they did 25 years ago, sea level rise is 50% faster than earlier, cyclone intensity has increased, insect populations are dwindling rapidly, and droughts and extreme weather events have become more frequent.

Despite the 2015 inter-governmental Paris Agreement, CO2 emissions are still rising, and at current emission rates we will exceed the 1.5-2°C do-not-cross temperature rise red line in a few decades.

Climate change has put the earth’s environment and human society at the risk of drastic and permanent damage.

Without immediate and deep emission cuts, temperature rise by 2100 may be 3-4°C over pre-industrial times, and possibly more if inherent tipping points are crossed…

By 2100, Pakistan will be extremely water stressed, the Maldives will drown, a quarter of Bangladesh will be under the sea, causing tens of millions of climate refugees, Nepal will face unprecedented floods from melting glaciers, and parts of India will reel under floods while other parts face continuous drought…

The United Kingdom and Ireland have recently declared a climate emergency, as have many cities in Canada, Australia, USA, New Zealand, Switzerland, Austria, Spain and Belgium. Climate emergency declarations cover 100 million people today, but how these official declarations will translate into climate change mitigation action is yet unclear.”

SAPACC expects that the inaugural function tomorrow in Hyderabad will be attended by over 1,200 people, including workers and students who have gone on strike to protest inaction against climate change.

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