November 25, 2014
A PRIORITY: “Keeping biodiversity and nature protection at the centre of climate action and growth strategy is a pressing requirement.” Picture shows a tiger in the Western Ghats. Photo: Kalyan Varma
To protect biodiversity, India must take hard decisions and set thresholds for environmental regulation and pollution
The Prime Minister recently reorganised his National Council on Climate Change and called on an indigenous answer, yoga, to alter consciousness and tackle climate change. The Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) is currently working on the National Democratic Alliance’s position on climate change, with two major United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change meetings coming up. While some say that these recent developments have rightly raised the profile of climate change in the new government, others believe that India needs to do more, particularly in the face of a new U.S.-China agreement on mitigating climate change.
Voluntary action on climate change in India has centered around economic decisions, such as cutting down on carbon intensity and increasing renewable sources of energy. But what is lacking in the discourse is an understanding of keeping the natural natural, or conserving biodiversity. Two important events have taken place in the past few months in the country, which are tied to climate change and the pressing issue of how we deal with it. First, the Convention on Biological Diversity, a Convention under the United Nations which seeks to regulate our use of the natural world, has reached important funding decisions. Second, a high-level committee set up to propose amendments in environmental laws in India has submitted its recommendations to the MoEF. Both developments set the tone for changing the character of growth.Biodiversity and climate change
Biodiversity and wildlife protection is often termed as a ‘co-benefit’ of mitigating climate change. Other co-benefits, usually understood as secondary to economic decision-making, are clean air, potable water, ecosystem services and a stable microclimate. Conservationists have argued that biodiversity has become a low second fiddle to climate change in international negotiations, and decisions related to biodiversity are not yet part of the ‘mainstream’ decisions related to growth, trade and carbon emissions. At the just-concluded conference of parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity held in Pyeongchang, Korea, many stressed that biodiversity targets cannot just be ‘stand alone’ targets. “In order to move the biodiversity agenda forward, approaches and tactics must evolve.