Farmers Suicide, Global Warming and Indian Parliament
How media corporations globally are dictated by the way their proprietors perceive issues of concern has once again been revealed with Rupert Murdoch's shifting position on climate change. Murdoch who has long been a skeptic and has been sanitising coverage of global warming but now he has decided to advocate emission cuts to combat the problem and to make his own company Carbon neutral.
As the head of a $58 billion company that holds the reins the most cable broadcast networks and print publications in the US, Europe and Australia his change of heart means greater coverage of the adverse impacts of global change.
In the aftermath of the UN Security Council's first-ever discussion on climate change as a serious threat to security and future political stability on April 17, 2007 in New York at the UN headquarters, Indian Parliament too woke up to the issue with Lok Sabha holding a debate on the issue.
One of the newspapers aptly referred to it as "India too faces UN heat on climate change". It is clear that Indian parliament was under tremendous international pressure to adopt climate change as its problem. Isn't absence of similar pressure to discuss farmers suicide quite manifest.
Let all the members of all the legislative bodies of the world in general and Indian ones in particular use the ongoing suicides of farmers as the touch stone decide their action from a bundle of competing priorities. If they have failed to take cognisance of the immediacy of agrarian crisis afflicting the farmers, it only shows how divorced they are from the people who they claim to represent. They
are following the dictates of not their own people instead they are pandering to the likes and dislikes of the veto power holding members of the Security Council.
Elsewhere, the European Parliament adopted the composition of its new temporary committee on climate change on 10 May. At the ongoing UN conference in Bonn on slowing down global warming, the representatives of some 166 countries are split over 'how far to publicise the studies that clearly blame human activities for the impending catastrophe'.
Although no action emerged from these Security Council meeting or other meetings, it does reveal growing uneasiness within the capitalist world about social unrest that is likely to come with global warming.
US and China together are the biggest violators but there is a highly Irrational, Mischievous and Motivated tendency to club India and China together in the entire global warming debate, which must be dismissed with all the strength possible.
Underlining the significance, in addition to the 15 UN Security Council member states in attendance, 38 other UN member countries sent representatives to speak to speak in the Security Council discussion on climate change. It discussed the recent reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the upcoming negotiations in Bali in late 2007 on the post-2012 framework for addressing climate change when the Kyoto Protocol’s first commitment period expires.
China, India, Russia, Venezuela, Pakistan and Group of 77 raised doubts regarding the Security Council’s role on this issue, with some suggesting that it was primarily a socio-economic and/or sustainable development issue that should be addressed by UN General Assembly. But the British Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett, president of the Security Council, introduced the topic saying, “The Security Council is the forum to discuss issues that threaten the peace and security of the international community. What makes wars start? Fights over water. Changing patterns of rainfall. Fights over food production, land use,” she said. “There are few greater potential threats to our economies ... but also to peace and security itself.” Expressing her concern about the poorest populations of the globe, she predicted global economic convulsions on a scale similar to those associated with the great wars and the economic depression of the first half of the 20th century.
But what is worrisome is that even institutions who have contributed immensely to public knowledge of chemicals and its impact on health and has highlighted environmental degradation across the country in their earlier reports later argued that increasing damage to property and life in the Gangetic plains is not due to increase in flooding intensity or frequency but rather due to growing density of human settlements in flood-prone areas. This seems to be in tune with Beckett’s commiseration about “poorest populations.”
While the US submission seemed to support the position of the G-77, it is quite deceptive because it is strategically inspired by its short term interest as outlined in the report, National Security and the Threat of Climate Change, undertaken by the government-funded national security think tank, the Center for Naval Analyses.
According to this report global climate change presents a serious national security threat, which could impact Americans at home, impact US military operations, and heighten global tensions. It draws an analogy with Cold War saying, “The situation, for much of the Cold War, was stable,” Gen. Sullivan continued. “And the challenge was to keep it stable, to stop the cata-strophic event from happening. We spent billions on that strategy. “Climate change is exactly the opposite. We have a catastrophic event that appears to be inevitable. And the challenge is to stabilize things—to stabilize carbon in the atmosphere. Back then, the challenge was to stop a particular action. Now, the challenge is to inspire a particular action. We have to act if we’re to avoid the worst effects.”
Treating climate change as warfare, the report says, “We never have 100 percent certainty. We never have it. If you wait until you have 100 percent certainty, something bad is going to happen on the battlefield” although it would is quite obvious as to between poverty, disarmament and climate change, which one is of immediate concern.
Indian submission by Nirupan Sen at the Security Council said the catastrophic scenarios posited by climate change couldn’t be discussed in any meaningful manner because the appropriate forum for discussing issues relating to climate change was the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
He said nothing in the greenhouse gas profile of developing countries even remotely reflected a threat to international peace and security but strangely after talking about poverty eradication to mitigate the potential for conflict and positive implications for global peace and security he sought new and additional resources, to upscale the realization of resources from the carbon market.
It is incomprehensible as to how carbon market can mitigate poverty. The role of Indian Environment and Forests Ministry has become so subservient to World Bank Group that it does not have the spine to stand for people's environmental concerns. One cannot expect Ministry officials who have served in the International Financial Institutions (IFIs)and who are working overtime to get a post retirement appointment over there or in some UN body to make environmental imperatives a non-negotiable concern. If one submits that there is an incestous relationship between the ministry in question, the IFIs and the UN bodies, one is stating an obvious fact.
In fact carbon market allows rich countries to continue to damage environment by letting them pursue business as usual approach of energy consuming subsidies towards its economic activities including agriculture. These countries must shoulder responsibility and change the way produce and consume because that is the only way to fix the problem.
It is high time India rejected mechanisms like Joint Implementation, Emissions Trading and the Clean Development Mechanism, until equal per capita entitlements are accepted when the post-2012 framework comes up for negotiations because it takes away all the cheaper options to reduce emissions.
Indeed the danger of limited debate and consciousness is that they can be easily captured by vested interests. Climate change is too serious a 'business' to be left only to governments to make it the top most priority with ulterior motives. It is these interests who linked poverty to population and turned it into an ongoing 'family planning business' under the dictates of these very veto powers who are currently asking India to take obligatory commitments for emission cuts to combat global warming.
Beware of the news channels that are held by Murdoch in India!