Climate change: Citizen as consumer

Climate change: Citizen as consumer

Creating citizens with responsible consum-ption pattern should be the means to tackle climate change.

Around the end of November 2015,  from university lectures to tea shops, one could find pockets of people discussing about ‘saving the mother earth’ from further degradation. People became mediators of gossip, which ousted the facts of newspapers.

These gossips were more to do with the nation’s stance on climate change. Students and scholars went straight ahead criticising India’s stance and policies about climate change. They seemed more rebellious  reminding the nation that we require a dissenting stance.

Now that Conference of the Parties (COP 21) has turned to dust, one feels that human bein-gs can’t get more seditious about their planet. Discussions on climate change did not make the need for greener environment to be felt in the lifestyle of individuals. Media and people are so accustomed to be stuck betw-een temporal clutches that they forget the importance of cause.

Around COP 21, one felt that the present generation was more concerned about rights of future generation than their comfort. Comfort has now become the new necessity. In the present political atmosphere, an ordinary person at teashop claiming that India’s stance in COP 21 is imprudent, would be charged with sedition.

When everything regarded as past now, there is a need to relook at the language construction around climate change. A stance has become another way of negotiation at the leadership level. While climate change is advocated as a global phenomenon, the practice of combating climate change should start at individual level, because it is seen as individual responsibility.

Adapting to renewable means of energy production is no way of sending a signal that the threat of climate change is instilled in the minds of every individual. This should reflect as responsible consumption pattern by the citizens, which is evidently missing with India ranking fourth in energy consumption statistics.

At policy level, the intention of a regulation matters. If regulation were nothing more than an imposition, human mind’s imagination and invention would find loopholes to resort to the situation prior to regulation. Rather, regulation should act as an instrument of inculcating measures required for combating climate change in the day-to-day life of a citizen.

A huge solar field would only yield power to meet increasing consumption in a more ‘efficient’ manner. A home based solar system would not only reduce the aggregate energy demand from the central gird but also make people realise the perks of resorting to renewable energy sources and practice it in other walks of life.

Hence, a regulation should not only aid on meeting demands or curtailing it but should also help in changing the attitude of people. One has to eventually regulate a mindset, not merely a machine.

Western materialism has propagated and taught economics on the lines of maximising output and utility. Gandhiji once said, “The earth provides enou-gh to satisfy everyone’s needs but not any one’s greed.” Maximising utility is followed by a statement ‘given the resource constrains.’

Production of energy
Only in latter half of 20th century, emphasis was laid on production of energy from renewable sources. Consider mass transit mechanisms. In most cities, policies on public transportation are a result of increase in the mobility of people and congestion it creates.

The rationale for using public transport is attributed to reduction of carbon footprint but not in many cases. Nor do people take conscious effort to reduce their carbon footprint by using public transport. Reasons for using public transport stays classic with rationales like quicker mobility and cheaper cost.

In smaller cities, individual mode of transportation is preferred to mass transit and reasons for the same are given as economies to scale of transiting a smaller population. Neither does the government make the public aware of the less harm they inflict on environment by using public transport nor do the elites use the mass transit mechanisms. This illustrates that policies have targeted economic feasibility while environmental concerns are kept afar.

The position that India should have taken in COP21 is to instil the idea of climate change in the minds of people and creating responsible consumption patterns. When ideology of the nation is not reflected on the practices of its people, ideologies become abstract. Climate change is an idea whose time has come in India.

While it has an instant response in banning Maggi for its negative impact on the health of the nation, why is it not practically feasible to ban Hindustan Unilever Limited from production which also has a similar implications? To answer questions like these, complicated by power and politics, one has to understand that targets for combating climate change are just the ends but creating responsible citizens with responsible consumption pattern should be the means to tackle climate change.

Likewise, to emerge as a superpower is just the end, but the process through which a nation gains such a status has to remain as footprints in the sands of time. It is also important that political intentions should never cloud the citizens’ concern for issues. Democracy demands; let the citizen think beyond the current pressure of politics.

(The writer is a student at Jindal School of Government and Public Policy)

DH Newsletter Privacy Policy Get top news in your inbox daily
Comments (+)