To Achieve Carbon Neutrality, India Needs To Balance Out Its Carbon Footprint

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On average, a forest fire contributes to approximately 8 million tonnes of carbon emission.

As India spearheads the path of economic progress, we see more industries coming up with chimneys emitting black smoke and tall buildings decorated with air conditioners putting our carbon count in a fix. Carbon emissions due to numerous human activities have been increasing, and what is more disturbing is the recent spate of bushfires in the forests of Amazon, Russia, and South Australia, which has put many innocent animals to the grave and has charred the green cover.

On average, a forest fire contributes to approximately 8 million tonnes of carbon emission. The side effects of increasing levels of emission have been quite evident in climate in the recent times when the largest iceberg of Antarctica melted away, the production of food crops in India performed below average due to irregularity of rains and Russia faced the hottest year in 2019.

Does a question hover around what the relationship between carbon emissions and climate is?

The forests absorb the carbon dioxide released by humans and animals from the atmosphere for the process of photosynthesis, which means that forests act as a natural sink of carbon. Oceans and forests collectively absorb nearly 50 of the global annual carbon emission.

The carbon stored in the forests is more than the carbon emitted since the beginning of the industrial age. Hence, an increase in the green cover is the only way to reduce the unnatural heating of the globe.

A recent assessment from FSI (Forest Survey of India) has stated that the carbon stock of Indian forests in 2017 has increased from 7.08 million tonnes to 7.124 million tonnes to date, and is projected to a value of 31.87 billion tonnes by 2030.

carbon emission
An increase in the green cover is the only way to reduce the unnatural heating of the globe.

Well, with these numbers of carbon increments, India’s target to achieve a reduction in carbon emissions to 33-35% by 2030 seems a little obscure. Establishing carbon neutrality is the only way to alleviate the uneven warming of the globe. A country’s progress is measured by the number of industries it has grown; hence the idea of a planet full of green cover is utopic.

Yes, there will be carbon emission, but for every emission of carbon, there should be a plan for its neutralization; hence, robust steps should be taken to absorb double the carbon that we emit. Exploiting nature to its maximum and not thinking of its replenishment makes us prone only to a dark future.

With India, all set to become the fastest growing economy, here are some steps that can help achieve carbon neutrality.

  • The ‘Green’ Buildings

Can buildings be eco-friendly and give zero wastage? 40% of the total energy and more than 50% of the world’s major non- renewable resources are consumed by the construction industry, subsequently contributing to 5% of humanity’s carbon footprint. Innovative building materials like Porotherm smart bricks combined with super glue reduces dependence on water, saves time, and ensures thermal protection.

Normal Portland cement can be replaced by rice husk ash cement, which has high binding strength, durability and makes the walls cooler. This cement can be manufactured since India produces a large amount of paddy. The product is yet to come to India. The government should encourage building sustainable structures and homes by incentivizing them.

  • The Renewed Energy

About 72% of the electricity is being generated by combusting fossil fuels making it the most significant source of carbon emissions in India. To meet the carbon reduction target by 30-33%, The government of India has spent an additional $80 million for the enhancement of renewable energy. Electricity from solar and wind is less expensive than all other sources. It, therefore, makes commercial sense to exploit the full wind power potential, and not to burn any coal for electricity. Around 46% of Germany’s electricity needs are fulfilled by renewable energy.

E-commerce major Amazon is planning to launch 10,000 electronic vehicles by 2025 in India. Its rival Flipkart is replacing 40% of its delivery vans with electric vans by March 2020. More significant steps to be taken by the government. To invest in trapping solar energy as sunlight is scarce during monsoon.

Electricity from solar and wind is less expensive than all other sources.
  • Carbon-less Shopping

A paradigm shift has taken place in shopping. We look at the screen, and on a click, we get our products delivered at our doorstep. To armour from customer complaints of receiving damaged products, the e-commerce companies take the utmost care in wrapping the product with bubble sheets, nylon tapes, and thermocol, etc.

Little do we know that these single-use plastics, when incinerated, contribute heavily to the carbon footprint. E-commerce companies should shift to greener packaging like using biodegradable foam peanuts, cornstarch packaging, corrugated cardboards of recycled papers, biodegradable plastic wraps made of hemp, and paper cushions.

Amazon India is planning to eliminate the use of single plastics by June 2020. Also, analyzing the kind of packaging required for the product will help optimize packaging waste.

  • Our Fashion Choices Emit Carbon Too!

the-fashion-industry-emit-1-2-million-tons-carbon-hindi-article
The fashion industry produces 10% of all humanity’s carbon emissions.

Surprised?

The fashion industry produces 10% of all humanity’s carbon emissions and is the second-largest consumer of water worldwide. As we go through the crowded footpaths of the famous fashion streets, we can buy clothes from head to toe within a range of Rs 300.

Fast fashion makes shopping affordable, but in reality, the life cycle of these clothes is short-lived in our wardrobe and are replaced by newer ones. In the process of reinventing our personality through fashion, 85% of the affordable clothes bought to go to the garbage each year.

Synthetic textiles like polyester are non-biodegradable end up being dumped in the water bodies micro-sized, causing a severe threat to aquatic life and water.

The government should keep a recycle mechanism where less worn clothes can be brought back to usage; this way, we can achieve carbon neutrality.

As quoted by Mahatma Gandhi, earth has enough resources to fulfil the needs of all mankind, but not the greed of a single individual. It’s time that we make more informed choices and take some responsibility for making this planet a little greener.

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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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