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Developed Nations Might Have Hatched A Plot To Blame All Climate Failures On India

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By Chandra Bhushan:

Note: This article has been republished from Down To Earth

The atmosphere at the climate conference in Paris is full of rumour and intrigue. Rumours abound of a pincer movement, spearheaded by the US, to trap India and hold it responsible for all failures at Paris. The first salvo in this direction was by US Secretary of State John Kerry, when he called India a “challenge” so far as the Paris climate talks were concerned. Now, the western media has taken this “issue” up as a crusade and have begun to routinely term India’s position as “divisive”—even without examining what that position is.

Rumours are rife that China will stay with developing countries till the last few days and then China and the US will come together, along with France, to force a deal upon the rest of the world. Something similar happened at the Lima climate talks last year when the US and China redefined the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities (CBDR). China is unusually quiet at Paris.

My reading of the situation is that there is a well-laid plan to trap India into a position where India will come across as obstructionist. Developed countries know India is wedded to the 1992 convention and any major deviation from the convention’s principles will attract its disagreement. They will, therefore, try at every step in the next 10 days to propose changes in the convention, just to attract opposition from India. This will, then, be hyped up as a “unilaterally polarising” attitude that has bogged the negotiations down. India will be the “fall guy”. Then, in the last few days, the US and China will come together and foist a deal with the support of the French and other European countries. A promise of money will be made to keep developing countries happy.

Indeed, the money promises have begun to pour in.

Four European countries—Germany, Norway, Sweden, and Switzerland—today announced a new US $500 million initiative that will find new ways to create incentives aimed at large-scale cuts in greenhouse gas emissions in developing countries to combat climate change. The World Bank Group has worked with the countries to develop the initiative, called the Transformative Carbon Asset Facility.

Also, 11 countries, including Canada, United Kingdom and the US, have pledged close to $250 million in new money for adaptation support to the most vulnerable countries on the planet into a fund called the Least Developed Countries Fund.

Coming back to the plot; a beginning in this direction has already been made. A few days ago, a one-page non-paper of the US was conveniently “leaked” to the media. A non-paper is not an official position, but a paper that suggests the intention of a country. This non-paper of the US essentially proposes to rewrite the convention. It proposes to eliminate differentiation between developed and developing countries and marginalise the principle of CBDR and equity, replacing it with the concept of “self-differentiation”—as President Obama put it in his Leaders’ Plenary speech: “Targets that are set not for each of us, but by each of us” (emphasis added). It makes no firm commitment on finance or technology from the developed countries and proposes a bottom-up, do-what-you-want climate regime with no special obligations on developed countries to cut emissions. Most of what this non-paper states goes against India’s stand.

India has two choices. Either it can get sucked into this whirlpool of what increasingly looks like a well-laid out plan or it can propound a counter-narrative that will turn the tables on developed countries. I believe India has an opportunity, in Paris, to do exactly that.

It is important for India to get its objective, and the communication of this objective, right. It should clearly communicate the fact that Paris is the last chance to operationalise the principle of equity and CBDR. The fifth assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has clearly put out the number on the amount of carbon dioxide the world can emit to maintain the safety threshold of a temperature increase of less than 2℃ since the pre-industrial era. This carbon space of 1,000-1,400 billion tonnes, which can be emitted from now till 2100, is fast disappearing.

Consider, for instance, the UNFCCC’s Synthesis report on the aggregate effect of the intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs). By 2030, if countries do not increase their ambition to reduce emissions, 60-75 percent of the carbon budget will be exhausted. In 2030, the Human Development Index (HDI) of South Asian and most African countries will be less than 0.65. These countries will need carbon budget post-2030 to meet basic development needs like food, shelter, infrastructure and energy.

The Paris climate conference must ensure that this “development space” is made available to developing countries. And this can only happen if, at Paris, countries agree on architecture of fair allocation of carbon budget and fair burden-sharing between countries.

With this objective in mind, India should put counter proposals on the table for the developed countries to oppose. For instance, if developed countries want review and ratcheting-up of mitigation every five years, India should not oppose it. It should rather put a proposal which will ensure that review and ratcheting-up is done keeping in view the principle of equity and fair allocation of carbon budget.

India should also support the key demands of least developed countries and small island states. These countries want a financial mechanism to take care of the loss and damage suffered by them due to climate change. They also want that the temperature increase should be limited to 1.5℃ and not 2℃. India should not oppose the 1.5℃ limit outright; rather, it should say that both 1.5℃ and 2℃ should be kept as targets, as done in previous climate conferences.

It is important that India’s position reflects both the aspirations and threat of climate change to the developing world. An article written by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Financial Times does partially capture this when he says that “the lifestyles of a few must not crowd out opportunities for the many still on the first steps of the development ladder”. However, India should strongly reflect the views of the poor in the developing countries who are bearing the brunt of climate change. India should start articulating its position in the interest of the poor of the world and not only its own poor.

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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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