In its May 29th, 2010, edition, The Economic and Political Weekly, India’s pre-eminent journal published a piece of mine, entitled ‘Climate Change in India: Forgotten Threats, Forgotten Opportunities,” as a Special Article. The article was cited extensively by Indian environmental organizations and other media.
The full article is available online at epw.in and in PDF here, but an abstract is available below:
ABSTRACT: India is in many ways ‘ground zero’ for climate change: by reducing the amount of arable land and fresh water in south Asia, climate change has the potential to reshape the human security terrain and even the geopolitical order of the region, by aggravating tensions and power balances with Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, and China. Thus India’s ‘growth-centric’ position on climate change may be legitimate, but not wise. To avert the gravest consequences, India must reconcile sustainable development with climate mitigation and equity at the domestic level.
As a “developing” country, India has a number of opportunities in charting a pattern of growth, particularly as it experiences massive urbanization. Economic development and lower emissions are not mutually exclusive; India can develop structures that encourage low-carbon consumption, like efficient public transport rather than infrastructure that only caters to cars. Moreover, if India seeks a sustainable development model, it must put greater emphasis on the poor—not for the sake of pity or morality, but to learn from some of the world’s most effective sustainable practices. One such practice is the informal recycling industry, in which materials that would otherwise wind up in landfills and incineration are reprocessed, reused, and returned to the market, effectively saving carbon space. These sorts of informal practices can be included in formal planning, giving India an innovative edge in its development.
In the end, however, environmental shifts are perhaps inevitable regardless of any efforts to mitigate climate change. Accordingly, preemptive political and resource-management arrangements must play a central role in India’s climate change adaptation plan.