//How green are Indian politicians?

How green are Indian politicians?

MUMBAI: Since the turn of the century, the Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded twice to people who spearheaded a ‘green’ movement because they realised climate change
could ultimately push countries to war. Although India-Pakistan relations have seen better times, many theories propound a future war would be over sharing water. At a time when climate change has become a major global concern, political parties in India have not given enough emphasis on environment in their poll manifestos.
What is more surprising is that pin-up idols of youth foraying into politics too have not been heard speaking about climate change, an issue that envelops rich and poor alike.

“Indian politicians and parties do not think it is an issue, even if it is going to endanger the country and its people in the near future. What is missing in all the party manifestos is an understanding of the fact that fighting poverty and climate change are two sides of the same coin,” Vinuta Gopal, campaign manager (Climate and Energy Change), Greenpeace India, said from Bangalore.

“If we fail to address climate change we will never be able to address poverty as the poor will be the worst hit,” she said.

Governments around the world are anxious to know India’s position on a global climate treaty that is supposed to be finalised by December 2009.

Last year, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh unveiled the National Action Plan for Climate Change, where major emphasis has been laid to promote solar energy and also improving energy efficiency, among other things.

In an interactive session on political will to tackle implications of climate change, Rajendra Pachauri, Chairman Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change said, “I am not at all pessimistic about politicians not doing anything (on the issue)…By and large they all understand that…but one reason why they may not be acting is because of the disinformation that is being spread that the costs are going to be enormous, there is going to be loss of jobs.”

“We have to find new development pathways. This action plan consists of national missions which have been identified, solar energy is one of them, enhanced energy efficiency and sustainable habitat among others,” he said.

Noted environmentalist Praffula Samantara, who is campaigning about climate change in Andhra Pradesh, Orissa Chhattisgarh and Gujarat said, “The action plan should be implemented in letter and spirit. Politicians should feel that containing global warming is essential to protect life and environment, and to ensure security of people. It would be good if political parties can give some time for environment issues.