Climate Change, Capitalism, Patriarchy: Its All A Single Battle Now

Anandi Sharan
Anandi Sharan is 50 years old. She works in DASAG Switzerland, a company specialising in promoting renewable energy systems in sustainable social arrangements. She lives and works in Bangalore.

Anandi Sharan, Hari Sharan, Ritumba Manuvie, Sudhir Vombatkere, Daniel Taghioff, Hartman de Souza, Suprabha Seshan, Shankar Sharma, CK Vishwanath, Sauman Das Gupta, Anuradha Dasgupta, Biplab Pal, and others are preparing a plaint to defend the right to life against the forces that are causing climate change.

Suggestions on the PIL can be shared here.

The right to life is being denied to Indians without due process of law. Carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere are rising and are now over 400 parts per million, having been below 280 parts per million at the beginning of the industrial revolution. This is the highest level for nearly one million years.

Climate change is now in runaway condition and could mean temperature rises of 6 degrees Celsius by the end of this century. Every 50 lakh crore increase in GDP adds between a half and one part per million of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. The energy plan in the Approach to the 12th Plan and the guestimates on so-called demand profiles for fossil fuel energy in the Integrated Energy Policy as well as the economic development path proposed in the Interim Report of the Expert Group on Low Carbon Strategies for Inclusive Growth suggest that India will contribute 10 to 20 parts per million of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere by 2030.

In other words, Indians, who are already one of the most vulnerable people to climate change on earth, may see the monsoon become intermittent, or it may even stop all together according to some reports. The fault if we go down that road will not only be with the developed countries, but with our own development choices. Indians are already suffering droughts, floods, extreme weather patterns and soil erosion due to land use changes caused directly and indirectly by the use of fossil fuels. This cannot go on. What we need is an immediate new direction for India and a set of urgently implemented new policies of decentralisation, localisation and sustainability in line with the precautionary principle. India must now begin to plan on the basis not of economic growth and global competitiveness, but on the basis of reducing the vulnerability of Indians to man-made catastrophes via the atmosphere. In other words, fossil fuel use must only be used to the extent that their emissions of greenhouse gases can be sequestered by our own forests. Today only 6% of the carbon is absorbed by forests. This needs be 110% by 2020. The work to increase the sequestraiton capacity of forests is also work that suits the training and skills of the majority of Indians, who do agricultural work, engage in sustainable forestry and use and maintain grassland and water bodies.

Indian women and girls who must take care of daily life are suffering tremendously from the adverse effects of capitalism, the commoditisation of labour and land, and the destruction of the environment by capitalist forces.

Drought and floods due to land use changes have destroyed the soil and forests, the capitalist fossil fuel and nuclear energy based economic forces have destroyed local manufacturing which used to help tide over agricultural during lean periods, and the consumer greed of the globalised middle classes has allowed the government to take its eye off the need for decentralisation, localisation and new forms of public intervention which we need very badly, such as a universal wage.

Consumer greed and the patriarchal values of capitalism have also led to an enormous rise in the abortion of girl foetuses because women are non-productive family assets. Only young men – desperate for money, one-man entrepreneur-type people – basically those thrown on the scrap heap of capitalism and looking for a purpose without skills or organisational support, and necessarily having to cope through the lumpenised forms of development we are subject to today, and who are willing to sell their labour for money – only they can succeed in the capitalist system – and what kind of success. Usually it is about unskilled work and drink. Women and girls also want cash desperately, but reproductive and care labour keeps them behind. In any case the system is failing men and women, boys and girls, but women are bearing the brunt and are no longer wanted by society which sees them as an expense.

The state imports 90% of its fossil fuels and is negotiating for uranium imports from Australia and these imports are paid for by the exploitation of women and girls in rural areas – India is now the largest exporter of rice in the world – and the rice is produced by people who themselves do not have enough to eat. But because traders and capitalists run the country, production for own use is considered less important than production of commodities.

Our demands on the political level are to abolish capitalism, introduce a universal wage, outlaw fossil fuels and nuclear energy, abolish private and state property and the right to land acquisition by the state, protection of national borders against imports especially of fossil fuels and uranium, and giving all land use decisions into the hands of consensus bodies of village councils and town ward councils made up of all adults taking decisions by consensus.

We want a committee appointed by the Supreme Court to look into the issues of standards, duties and enforcement for reducing vulnerability to climate change: only two forms of money in the country are needed: one: the universal wage for all adults over 16; and two, loans for companies wishing to exploit fossil fuels (uranium to be outlawed all together), which must be restricted in quantity to within a level set by permits to extract such fuels. Permit quotas must be limited to below the sequestration capacity of forests. This at the moment would be 1/15th of our emissions.

The universal wage will facilitate agricultural, forest and grassland work to increase green cover and the sequestration capacity of the country, which in turn may over time allow slightly larger quantities of permits to be given to fossil fuel extraction activities.

Politically we are working actively to persuade people in all countries to bring in similar arrangements in their own countries.

We hope the plaint will be ready by December 2012.




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