Flooded, Chennai Delivers a Cry in Paris
Chennai under deep waters
PARIS: "The situation is really bad here, we are not able to survive without any food. There has been no power supply over the last three days," says Vijay Prasad as he wades through waist deep water in Chennai. Prasad's voice of despair fills the lobby area of the venue where the COP21 summit is taking place in Paris as delegates watch a five-minute film on the floods in Chennai that have claimed over 450 lives.
The film, that was projected on the giant display screens had interviews of Chennai residents calling on ministers to agree on a deal to curb climate disasters. The messages underline that climate change is not a distant prospect, but is already ruining people’s lives around the world.
“This climate change has seriously affected us. It has been draining, but still the situation is very bad. Be it summer or winter, the weather has been extreme, especially this year. I would tell the leaders who are seeing this video that clean energy is needed now and it should be implemented as it is the need of the hour,” says Karthik Subramanian, another voice in the film.
These messages come even as Laxman Singh Rathore, Chief of the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) said the floods in India were consistent with those predicted by climate models. Prime Minister Modi also visited Chennai, where he reportedly blamed the floods on climate change.
The timing of Chennai floods have put India in a delicate spot -- its refusal to sign the deal will only make it appear irresponsible towards people worst affected by Climate Change. But it is also hoping to use the moment to garner popular support for its moral argument - that it is a victim of Climate Change.
The organisers of the film screening put the equation in context. "The people who marched in Chennai last weekend under 100% clean banners had no idea they were on the cusp of climate disaster. Now they are drowning while negotiators drag their feet in agreeing to a life-saving deal. It’s time to deliver clean energy by 2050 and answer the call of 3.6 million global citizens demanding a long term goal the world can celebrate," says Emma Ruby Sachs of Avaaz.
Half-way into the negotiations in Paris, there seems to be a deadlock over the issue of financing the transition to clean energy. While India has been insisting on the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities - urging rich nations to loosen their purses, developed countries are urging big polluters like China and India to shoulder the burden of fighting climate change.