The Case For An ‘Environment Cess’ To Clean Up Our Ecological Mess

WhyOnEarth logo mobEditor’s Note: Are you bothered by the drastic changes in our climate, causing extreme weather events and calamities such as the Kerala Floods? #WhyOnEarth aims to take the truth to the people with stories, experiences, opinions and revelations about the climate change reality that you should know, and act on. Have a story to share? Click here and publish.
Students from private schools in the city convened opposite American Excelsior School near Wazirabad Bundh in Sector 53 to demand tangible actions against climate change on March 15, 2019, in Gurugram, India. A simultaneous protest was also held in Delhi’s Connaught Place. (Photo by Parveen Kumar/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

Earth is under the grip of climate change which, in turn, is the result of increasing levels of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases [GHGs] due to deforestation, urbanisation, industrialisation, pollution and increasing human population, melting of polar ice, ocean acidification, increasing global temperatures, floods, droughts, increasing sea level, and depleting biodiversity.

These are important impacts of climate change, and these anthropogenic activities are raising the level of carbon dioxide by about 2 parts per million a year in the atmosphere. India is not far from feeling the impacts of climate change. In India, hundreds of people have died due to summer heatwaves, roads have melted due to high temperatures during summer, and coastal cities like Mumbai are under danger because of rising seas due to global warming.

India’s ecological balance, which was maintained due to ponds, wetlands, lakes, trees and forests’ ecosystems, is being destroyed due to increasing population pressure, agriculture pressure to feed large populations, urbanisation, unsustainable development, and industrialisation. This situation is rapidly leading India towards a climate emergency.

In a research paper published in the February 2014 edition of the journal ‘Population and Environment’, researchers Mason Bradbury, M. Nils Peterson, and Jianguo Liu identified how the total number of global households are growing much faster than the growth of the world population itself, and that the world is on “the brink of a ‘household explosion’.”

“Increasing number and decreasing size of households mean the same number of people live in twice or more as many homes and requiring twice or more as many resources to build and furnish them.” the paper read. This situation is worrying because “smaller households are on average less efficient as they cause more pressure on forests and environment and will enhance degradation of the environment, deforestation, and biodiversity loss. Such conditions will enhance global warming and climate change.”

According to the 15th Indian Census provisional reports released on March 31, 2011, the Indian population increased to 1.21 billion with a decadal growth of 17.64%. India is projected to be the world’s most populous country by 2025, surpassing China. The major concern is the increasing household numbers and decreasing household size. Per the 2011 census, India has about 247 million households.

There were 151 million households in the 1991 Census and 192 million households in the 2001 Census. The household size in India has dropped in recent years. The average size of households in India as per the 2011 Census was 4.8 members per household, while in the 2001 Census the size of a household was 5.3.  

We can reduce the anthropogenic impact on the environment and protect the environment. I feel that for this, every household can donate or be surcharged with at least 1% of their income per month for ‘environment protection apart from other measures like afforestation, grass-root level awareness, banning clear-cutting of forests, sustainable development, etc.

On a household basis, the average income in India was $6,671 per household in 2011, and these households produced a GDP of about $1.7 trillion. A possible solution might be that every household contributes or donate at least ₹4,717.60 ($66.71) for ‘Environment Protection’. A huge amount of approximately ₹11,65,220 ($16477) million will be collected every year, in terms of household income in 2011.

This large amount of money may be used for green technologies, plantation, ecosystem protection, renewable energy, sustainable development, making eco-friendly products, energy conservation and causing awareness at the grassroots level. This collective responsibility and green step may bring about an ‘ecological revolution’, and climate action and environmental protection programs will be speed-up with such cooperation.

Environment, oxygen, and carbon dioxide can never be partitioned. Earth is under severe pressure, and according to Global Footprint Network, humans have used as much ecological resources as if we lived on 1.75 Earths. According to the ‘Global Footprint Network’, humanity has used nature’s resource budget for the entire year. Humans have used up this year’s supply of natural resources in seven months due to the increasing demand for resources by the world population.

Earth Overshoot Day 2019

We have only one Earth, not 1.75 Earths.” A ‘United We’ can fight climate change better than ‘Isolated I’. Climate change is on the verge of becoming irreversible. Each nation will face this climate crisis if immediate, collective, and effective actions are not taken. Increasing household numbers will add pressure on ecosystems and so, a one percent cess on household income is a better option to reduce environmental degradation and reduce the anthropogenic impact on the environment. 

Featured Image Credit: Lotus R/Flickr
This post has been written by a YKA Climate Correspondent as part of #WhyOnEarth. Join the conversation by adding a post here.
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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 Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’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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