A new report says 57 per cent of Indians feel the direct impact of climate change, but 42 per cent do not feel informed enough to respond to the drastic shifts induced by climate change.
These were among findings that debunked some perceptions about climate change awareness in India as part of the India Report – Climate Asia Project by BBC Media Action.
On 19th September 2013, I attended the launch of this report in my capacity as the climate policy coordinator with the Indian Youth Climate Network. The event saw participation from social scientists, policy makers and journalists as well as youth organizations and environmental think tanks.
Climate Asia is arguably the world’s largest study of people’s daily experiences with climate change in seven Asian countries. The project surveyed 33,500 people across Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Vietnam and Pakistan. In India, the Climate Asia report surveyed people across the states of Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Tamil Nadu, Uttarakhand and the city of Mumbai to arrive at statistical findings.
The portal is an easy-to-use tool designed to help media, non-governmental organizations and policy makers plan and implement programmes based on people’s existing understanding of climate issues. It includes an array of data on climate, food, water and energy issues as well as statistics on media use for the region.
The official launch, held at the India International Centre, was followed by a panel discussion with Vikram Chandra (CEO, NDTV), Vimlendu Jha (Founder, Swechha) and Navroz Dubash (Senior Fellow, Centre for Policy and Research), highlighting their perspectives on climate change.
Mr. Vikram Chandra spoke about NDTV’s Greenathon as a case in point to show that a serious approach to climate change does not necessarily work. He stressed the need to have digestible bits of information for the general public in order to mobilize public opinion.
Mr. Vimlendu Jha shared the need to distinguish between people’s ability versus their willingness to change with respect to climate change mitigation strategies. He spoke about the importance of experiential learning that is localized and views an individual as an important stakeholder in the global climate debate.
Mr. Navroz Dubash further added insight into the divide between the diplomatic and developmental agendas on environmental issues. He also stressed on the complicated causal links between natural phenomenon and climate change, and the need to properly address these. Indeed, he said that not every disaster or event can be linked to a changing climate, and said we need to work on effective explanations.
In a continuum with the findings, Dr. R.K. Pachauri, Director of Teri and Chairperson of the IPCC, was featured as guest speaker for the event. He spoke about the long-term impact of climate change on health, weather and livelihoods. He also expressed his disappointment at the lack of political will to implement the policy recommendations of our eight national missions on climate change. Talking about a life cycle approach to climate change, Dr. Pachauri paraphrased it aptly when he asked the audience – How do we move national politics towards climate change?
To better understand the methodology and sampling, a question and answer session was organized that threw up interesting points and queries. There were questions on the missing role of gender in the findings of the report and effective communication strategies vis-à-vis climate change. The dilemma seemed to be whether we need to start with the problems communities are facing and then link the relevant ones to changes in climate, or switch to a top-down approach.
All in all the findings, if properly employed, could greatly aid policy makers and bureaucrats to draft India’s climate change policies. However what we need to emphasize is that entry points to issues on climate must be people’s lived experiences. At the same time there has to be a continual effort to bridge the gap between larger systemic science about climate change and the on-ground experiential observations of people.
This project seeks to contribute to an emerging field of knowledge and practice on resilience and adaptation to climate change at a moment when these issues are emerging strongly on the agenda of the seven focus countries in Asia.
With the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change launching its five-yearly report on scientific evidence for climate change, and negotiators warming up for COP19 in Warsaw, the findings provide an insight into the worries and strategies of some of those most affected by climate change.
You can read more about the Climate Asia Project and use their data portal at -http://www.bbc.co.uk/mediaaction/climateasiadataportal
I have been debating and participating in forums and events on global issues since I was 10. I founded my own youth task-force at 13 and have been working since then on sustainability, education, poverty and empowerment. I believe young people must be included in global governance and participation.
I am an avid equestrienne, writer, traveler, citizen journalist and award-winning speaker. I volunteer with National Geographic, WWF India and the International Youth Council, TakingitGlobal, CoalitionWILD, and UNEP Tunza Asia Pacific Group.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?
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