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Trump Has Done Something Horrible To The Climate, And We Hope Modi Doesn’t Follow Suit

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Something very alarming has just happened, and the fears of climate warriors have come true. For a lot of people who have been drawing a parallel between Donald Trump and Narendra Modi (for both positive and negative traits and policy decisions), this is something to worry about.

Why? Because, the US President, Donald Trump, signed an Executive Order on ‘Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth’ on March 28 in a move that may end the Paris Agreement on climate change.

The Paris Agreement was adopted on December 12, 2015, and was signed by 197 countries to cap the global temperature rise to 2 degree Celsius and strive for 1.5 degree Celsius. This was to be done by eliminating the use of fossil fuels and replacing them with renewable energy sources.

President Donald Trump holds up one of the executive actions that he signed in the Oval Office on January 28, 2017 in Washington, DC. Photo by Pete Marovich-Pool/Getty Images

Of the various important decisions taken during the Paris Talks was the commitment by the US to provide financial support to developing nations for climate change mitigation and adaptation and also to cut down emissions by switching to cleaner energy sources. The former President Barack Obama had unveiled Clean Power Plan (CPP) in August 2015 to reduce nationwide power sector emissions by 32% from 2005 levels by 2030.

The Executive Order, signed by Trump, calls for an immediate reevaluation of the CPP. The CPP was not just aimed at reducing carbon emissions but had far reaching effects. According to an Environment Protection Act (EPA) analysis, the CPP was expected to bring a 25% reduction in polluting particulates, meaning that each year 2,700-6,600 premature deaths and 140,000-150,000 asthma attacks in children could be prevented.

It should also be noted that Donald Trump, in his federal budget, has already eliminated funding for United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Green Climate Fund.

The executive order also lifts the ban on federal leasing of land for coal production, lifts restrictions on the production of oil, natural gas, clean coal, and shale oil and gas to increase the production of all fossil fuel resources. The US is already the second largest coal consumer in the world after China. Its per capita coal consumption is five times higher than India’s. Also, the US produces more gas than Russia and more oil than Saudi Arabia.

Natural gas is burned off at Apache Corporations at the Deadwood natural gas plant in the Permian Basin on February 5, 2015 in Garden City, Texas. Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

The order revokes six previous Presidential Executive Orders on climate change issued by the Obama administration, including one on setting standards for carbon pollution from the power sector. The US power sector is a major emitter of greenhouse gases – in 2015, it was responsible for emitting 2 billion tonne of carbon dioxide, more than what India emitted from all its economic sectors.

According to the Renewables 2016 Global Status Report, in 2015, developing economies including China, India and Brazil invested $156 billion in renewables – 19% more than in 2014 and 17 times more than in 2004. Meanwhile, developed countries spent $130 billion, according to UNEP. A large amount of this turnaround was due to China, which invested $102.9 billion in non-hydro renewables in 2015, 17% more than 2014.

The US invested $44.1 billion in 2015. 2015 was the first year that developing countries invested more in clean energy excluding hydroelectric power than developed economies. China has now surpassed the United States as the biggest investor in renewable energy, accounting for $102.9 billion of investment in 2015, over twice that of any other country.

A total of 58 emerging countries across Latin America, the Caribbean, Asia and Africa installed 70GW of clean energy in 2015, while countries based in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) installed 59 GW. In five years (2008-2013), the amount of renewable power in developing countries grew by 143%. During the same period, a number of renewables in developed countries rose by 84%.

“Notwithstanding the fact that this presents an unmistakable signal that the US is abandoning its global leadership role on climate change, this is of significant relevance at a time when science stands behind evidence of a fast-changing climate,” says Aarti Khosla, India Programme Lead Of Global Strategic Communications Council (GSCC).

Chandra Bhushan, deputy director general of Centre For Science and Environment (CSE), says that with the new executive order and the budget proposal, Trump has shown that he does not believe in climate change and has decided to go back on his nation’s international commitments to reduce emissions and provide funding. “The US, being the top historical polluter, should have been raising the ambition to address climate change. The Trump administration has instead attacked former President Obama’s climate action plan, vowed to make coal competitive and put fossil fuel-based economy on the top of its agenda,” says Bhushan.

Bhushan adds that Trump’s move sets a bad precedent. Due to the US inaction, the onus will now fall on other countries to substantially scale up their ambitions to address climate change.

People walk near India gate amid heavy dust and smog in Delhi, India. Photo by Allison Joyce/Getty Images

At the moment, after China, US and countries of the European Union, India is the fourth largest emitter of Carbon Dioxide. With the US going back on its promise made at the Paris Accord, what is going to be the course of action for the other three emitters, especially India and China who have a huge population and growing energy demand?

Several Indian environmental activists have, time and again, expressed their doubts about Narendra Modi being a climate skeptic. And why wouldn’t they?

According to an India Today story, Narendra Modi had said: “Climate has not changed. We have changed. Our habits have changed. Our habits have got spoiled. Due to that, we have destroyed our entire environment.” So far so good. But what got us worried was when he told The Hindu: “Climate change? Is this terminology correct? The reality is this that in our family, some people are old … They say this time the weather is colder. And, people’s ability to bear cold becomes less…We should also ask is this climate change or have we changed. We have battled against nature. That is why we should live with nature rather than battle it.”

The way the great Delhi smog was covered up or how India has persistently been easing business for the polluting industries in India, it is clear that Modi doesn’t want to give much importance to what the environment lobby had been asking for so, so long. It should also be remembered that according to World Health Organisation (WHO), India has 13 of the 20 most polluted cities in the world and every year 1.2 million people die because of pollution.

We have kept our fingers crossed. Hope Modi doesn’t take a leaf out of Trump’s Book Of Climate Change. Hope the policy and investments in favour of renewables keep growing. Touchwood!

Photo credit: Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images and Mahendra Parekh/Hindustan Times via Getty Images
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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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