“Climate liabilities need more teeth,” insists Sanjay Upadhyay

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Chandigarh

4 February 2019

DIVYA AZAD

Post to an enlightening discussion on climate change and the future of agriculture on the day one of 4th International Dialogue on Himalayan Ecology, the second day of the dialogue took place at National Institute of Technical Teachers Training and Research (NITTTR) Campus, Chandigarh. The national and international delegates discussed an array of topics related to the climate change and ecosystem services.

The first session on changing weather and water stress was chaired by Genevieve Ancel, Dialogue en Humanite, Lyon, France. “We have to learn through dancing in the storm,” she said.

Mr Anand Sharma, Deputy Director General, Indian Meteorology Department, New Delhi deliberated on the climate change observations, prediction and projection in the years to come. Mr Sharma said, “According to my observation, the existing models are unable to analyze the change of temperature in the Himalayas. So, we need regional climate models and study it in terms of qualitative data instead of quantitative data.”

Mr Sharma discussed El Nino and projected, “high resources climate model ‘PRECIS’ show good skill in representing smaller scale features of monsoon.” He raised concern about the Uttarakhand’s worst climate change disaster in June 2012 and observed, “Not a single building that was built by Britishers had collapsed. It is not really the climate change that needs to be blamed, but our own Indians.”

Syncing with the same, Mr Ravi Chopra, Former Director, People’s Science Institute, Dehradun shared his apprehension about the building of highways on the bank of rivers. “We need to understand that projects like Char Dham Highway Project are causing damage to the environment and ultimately causing water stress in the society,” said Mr Chopra.

“Water conservation must precede water exploitation and spring shed & watershed management should be done more judiciously,” he suggested.

Dr P S Negi, Snow & Avalanche Study Establishment (SASE), Chandigarh further enlightened the delegates about snow harvesting and ways to mitigate water scarcity challenges in snowbound regions. “According to the study of recent trends, there has been a reduction in the snow cover season. Since the last few years, everything has become exponential and the same goes for a change in temperature which is the ultimate reason behind the decrease in the surface area of snow.”

Adding more value to the same, Mr Harjeet Singh, International Climate Policy Manager, Action Aid, New Delhi emphasized on the dire need to calculate carbon footprints in the natural gas lifecycle and abstain from distorting our own cultures. Other suggestions like the cultural exchange of villages were discussed.

Mr Partik Kumar, Revitalizing Rainfed Agriculture Network, Palampur discussed the ‘Inventory and Revival of Springs in the Himalayas for Water Security’ report by NITI Aayog August, 2018 which states that almost half of the perennial springs have already dried up or have become seasonal and tens of thousands of villages are currently facing acute water shortage for drinking and other domestic purposes.

The dialogue further witnessed an intriguing discussion on environmental laws and the need for ‘climate liabilities to have more teeth’ by Mr Sanjay Upadhyay, Managing Partner, Enviro Legal Defence Firm, New Delhi.

“India’s stand in the international negotiations on climate change is based on the principle of common but differentiated responsibility,” stated Mr Upadhyay while urging on the need to go beyond international posturing. He further discussed the climate policy actions in India and affirmed, “National initiatives on climate concerns are policy and action plan instruments oriented which are non-justiciable.”

Dr Balwinder Singh Sidhu, Agricultural Commissioner, Punjab, Dr Indira Devi, Director of Research, Kerela Agriculture University and Dr Lalit Kumar, University of Delhi shared their opinion on ecosystem services in terms of policy framework and law.

The dialogue further raised questions about the existing GDP model of economic growth and the eighth Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon’s world economic model.

Mr Devinder Sharma, Managing Trustee, Dialogue Highway conferred about the accounting of drugs and prostitution in the European Union and urged the policymakers to look at the macroeconomic position of the country to analyse growth rate. “If a tree is standing, the GDP doesn’t grow but if we cut all the trees, the GDP will grow by 27%. So, it is up to us whether we want growth or sustainable development,” he concluded.

 Dr R K Kohli, Vice Chancellor, Central University, Bathinda addressed, “In India, we are all blessed in terms of our geographical location as there is an abundance of resources. But the problem is that we don’t know how to use these resources for we’re bad managers. In order to protect our country, we need to protect the Himalayas; after all energy transfers from the top to the bottom.”

The two – day deliberate discussion in the 4th International Dialogue Highway on Himalayan Ecology proved to be a crusader of change in terms of creating awareness and paving the way to environmental responsibility, sustainability and conservation.

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