Dunu Roy: A Subaltern View of Climate Change
Dunu Roy, EPW
(Note: In the context of the ongoing debate on climate change and the policies that nation states need to adopt to limit the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, the author poses a relevant question: instead of asking what would happen to the world if everyone were to consume energy at the level of the rich “developed” American, we can now enquire why everyone is not consuming at the level of the above-poor “developing” Indian? He also suggests that the way the poor adapt, migrate and progress provides not just a sustainable approach to climate change but also one that addresses resource use.)
Climate change takes place when the carbon cycle is disturbed. One can address this imbalance either by using more effi cient technologies, or by changing the exploitative nature of development. A worldwide analysis shows that it is possible to achieve quality of life indicators at low levels of energy consumption.
India’s per capita emissions are three times lower than the world average, but what reduces India’s average is the very low energy use of the bottom seven deciles of the population. Therefore, theoretically, global climate change would be mitigated if everyone on the planet adapted to consume energy at the level of the working Indian.
Microstudies from Delhi, Visakhapatnam, Jaipur, Allahabad and Kolkata illustrate that at a practical level the poor are demonstrating the “best practice” for mitigating and adapting to climate change. And if resource restoration by the poor through their labour is taken into account, then the difference would be even higher.
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