Friday, January 29, 2010

Climate Change or Climate Justice in the North East

Ishita Dey

Walter Fernandes in “Climate Change or Climate Justice in the North East” published in The Assam Tribune argues that the politics relating to clean development mechanisms and its implication in the bio-diversity of North East India. In this context two facets of justice come to the forefront; firstlt international justice and secondly justice within poorer countries. Clean Development mechanisms adopted by richer countries not only highlights the evasion of responsibility and accountability through shift of burden to the poorer countries through funding of CDMs but also will affect the livelihood of vulnerable communities particularly the agricultural labourers, fish workers and small farmers. These strategies will not only lead to loss of livelihood but also resource crisis in North east India. Northeast is one of the world’s 25 mega-biodiversity zones but has become a biodiversity hotspot in which biodiversity is being destroyed fast. Unfortunately the Government of India fails to forsee the limitations of accepting commercial monoculture as a CDM . As an instance Walter Fernandes cites the case of Bhadrachalam Paper Mill in Andhra Pradesh where Eucalyptus has been for raw material on 300 acres of land taken from the tribals. The tribal communities have been forced to look for alternative sources of survival leading to overexploiting the forests around them for sale as timber or firewood which damages the environment much more than what the paper mill claims to preserve. “But the eucalyptus plantation that is responsible for their impoverishment and environmental degradation has been declared a CDM and gains points for it. The Northeast can face a similar situation. If this policy is followed in the region and its people are impoverished and forced to overexploit the resources for survival, they will be declared enemies of nature. Consumerism of the rich nations and of the middle and upper classes in poor countries has caused the problem. These classes invest in more and more vehicles. The state is investing on coal-based GHG emission producing thermal power plants. The 48 major dams it is planning in the Northeast will destroy its biodiversity and impoverish its people. Scarcity of resources will be one of its consequences. That will result in competition for scarce resources and more ethnic conflicts”.
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