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Post-Copenhagen: The Battle is now in Mexico

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By Siddhartha Roy:

It is too late to save the summit, but it’s not too late to save the planet and its people. We have no choice but to forge forward towards a legally binding deal in 2010. This must be a rapid, decisive and ambitious movement, not business as usual.

— Robert Bailey of Oxfam International talking about the Copenhagen Summit in December 2009.

The last few months wrapping up 2009 saw phenomenal public awareness and participation in countless events and rallies and widespread coverage concerning ‘climate change’ in the print, visual and online media. Everyone seems to have heard of or was discussing ‘Climate Change’, ‘Kyoto Protocol’ and ‘Copenhagen’ across board rooms to classrooms. The UN Climate Change Conference 2009 in Copenhagen, Denmark was one of the most anticipated events globally in recent years. Newspapers, blogs and Television news channels were a hot bed of activity during the countdown to and finally during the conference from 7th — 18th December 2009.

The prime aim of the Copenhagen meet was to charter and adopt an effective treaty post-2012 when the Kyoto Protocol ends. However, as the meet proceeded, the overall progress made seemed ambiguous. But in the final days with talks stretching hours into midnight with no accord being reached, it became clear that the talks were in a state of disarray.

With the helm being handed over to Danish President Lars Løkke Rasmussen and the premieres of the BASIC (Brazil, South Africa, India and China) group and the USA coming together in a closed door meeting to salvage and produce if not a legally binding commitment but at least an Agreement that was ‘to be taken note of’.

The ‘Copenhagen Accord’  as it is called was not adopted nor was it passed unanimously (because of the opposition of countries such as Bolivia, Venezuela, Sudan and Tuvalu who registered their opposition to both the targets and process by which the Copenhagen Accord was reached).

With 192 countries in the fray and the tussle between developed and developing countries on extent of sharing responsibility and taking mitigation steps, for a naïve individual grasping the complexity of the affair is mind boggling.

The world did come together to solve the crisis of the Ozone layer by effectively adopting the Montreal Protocol which entered into force in 1989 and phasing out all CFCs (cholorofluorocarbons) and other chemicals which were causing the widening of the Ozone Hole above Antartica. Although most of the chemicals were in widespread use for the common man (like refrigerants, propellants, solvents, etc.), effective phasing out and replacement chemicals were found for all uses.

CFCs indirectly also contributed to global warming and hence their phasing out also helped reduce their impact. The Montreal Protocol was ratified by over 190 states and Kofi Annan calls “perhaps the single most successful international agreement to date”.

The Carbon problem however is far more tangled. Emissions are the basis for economic and allied growth of developing countries and their disagreement with the developed countries on division of sharing responsibility in terms of policy changes and emission reduction targets is not even close to the problem the Montreal Protocol attempted and succeeded in solving.

Add to this the minority and endangered countries that have been directly impacted by climate change which has not even been created by them in the first place but they have to bear the brunt of it.

Hence, the winding up of the Copenhagen meet the way it did is nothing short of shocking. And it should propel policy makers, environmentalists and the common man towards putting their most honest and best foot forward to face the impending crisis.

The Copenhagen Accord recognises the scientific case for keeping temperature rises below 2°C, but does not contain commitments for reduced emissions that would be necessary to achieve that aim.

One part of the agreement pledges US$ 30 billion to the developing world over the next three years, rising to US$100 billion per year by 2020, to help poor countries adapt to climate change. Earlier proposals that would have aimed to limit temperature rises to 1.5°C and cut CO2 emissions by 80% by 2050 were dropped. The Accord also favors developed countries’ paying developing countries to reduce emissions from deforestation and degradation, known as “REDD”.

We can be hopeful that some good has been done from Copenhagen considering the number of countries have submitted targets and Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs). India announced plans to reduce its emissions by 20-25% (per GDP) of 2005 CO2 levels by 2020 and China did the same giving a figure of 40-45% (per GDP). So have other countries including the US (cut greenhouse gas emissions by 17% below 2005 levels by 2020, 42% by 2030 and 83% by 2050) and the EU (cut 20% emissions below 2005 levels by 2020 unconditionally).

However, in absence of a legally binding agreement for cutting emissions and a sturdy mechanism of pooling in and transferring money for adoption of cleaner alternatives especially in developing countries, these figures don’t do much.

Governments are the only entities that can make the necessary tradeoffs and negotiate solutions; they (especially developed countries) must assume leadership and take action on the issue. Countries like India need to focus on their growing economy and look for ways to facilitate this growth using cleaner energy and reducing emissions.

The principle of ‘Common but Differentiated Responsibility’ holds true any day as the developed countries have been the prime sources of emissions for more than a century and hence have to carry a major share of the burden when it comes to adopting solutions.

Although developing countries didn’t play a role in creation of the problem, they should work in whatever capacity possible simply because their growth cannot proceed like that of the developed countries since the Industrial Revolution. India’s involvement, along with countries like China, and its emission targets (20-25% per GDP of 2005 values till 2020) and policy changes (like the Bachat Lamp Yojana and National Solar Mission among many others) are commendable and, for it to deliver, major infusion of money and adoption of cleaner alternative methods are just two of many steps required.

India is the biggest generator of business in the field of Carbon Credits. Offsetting billions of metric tonnes of Carbon emissions, the Indian economy has gained both impacting projects and monetary influx. However, Copenhagen was not good for carbon markets. There is no clear signal post-2010 and there is no clear signal on the fate of the Kyoto Protocol. This burning issue too needs a clear outline.

Ways of raising the $30 billion and then further increasing this fund to $100 billion in long term funding and also including the private sector are important areas which have to be addressed.

The next G20 meeting is scheduled in November 2010 in Seoul right before the COP 16 meeting in Mexico. This meet could be used by all its member countries to narrow down differences and then take their improvised concrete approach to Mexico.

In addition, focus on REDD is important. REDD has evolved to include both reducing emissions and increasing forest cover. The focus on emission reductions is very important and should be a priority of a REDD mechanism. Although other “plus” activities are acceptable, a priority should be placed on deforestation and forest degradation.

When it comes to agriculture, we have to analyze the impact of climate change measures on the agriculture sector to prevent food scarcity. We have huge underinvestment in agricultural research. We have been riding on old investments in agricultural research and not reinvesting. An emphasis on climate change can be a way to regenerate investment and funding in this sector.

The Conference of Parties (COP) meets for the 16th United Nations Climate Change Conference on November 29th till December 10th in Cancún, Mexico. With so many pressing issues to be addressed, the World looks up to some of the most powerful economies and their counterparts to deliver.

The media, the NGOs and the youth should gear up. November isn’t far away.

You must be to comment.
  1. Rajan Alexander

    10 tell tale signs that the global warming is a dying hoax

    Global warming hysteria, whose gravy train INGOs and environmental organizations jumped into for the last decade or so, has run its course. Climate alarmism is dying a slow and painful death. Here are some telltale signs that it is in its deathbed, grasping for its last breath:

    1. Re-branding exercises

    We live in this age of advertisement where if something isn’t working, the first remedy is often to change the offending name. Repeated attempts to re-brand global warming are one of these. Global warming first metamorphosed as “climate change”. This worked for some years but such was the gross misuse and abuse of the term that the public soon developed allergic to this term too and thus the desperate search for an alternative term in the last few months. Some alternatives recently floated are “climate weirdness” and “climate disruption “, the last coined by President Obama’s Science Czar John Holdren.

    Read more:

  2. Rafael Rivera

    Great article!

    Greetings from Mexico City

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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