Communication about climate change is of crucial importance in the worldwide movement to adequately understand climate change, to inform people about it, and to enlist support for policy initiatives to combat it .Most people are concerned about environmental issues such as climate change, but lack a clear understanding of how these problems arise and what to do about them
As a prelude to the Copenhagen summit on 7th December, banglanatakdot com with support from PRSI decided to set upon the task of sensitizing stakeholders.
“Cap the Gap” was a campaign by people of Kolkata voicing the need for taking immediate action by individuals, organisations and nations to reduce carbon emissions and slow down the impact of climate change. The campaign was organised by the Public Relations Society of India (PRSI) and banglantak dot com. with other campaign partners; Jute Manufacturers Development Corporation (JMDC) under the Ministry of Textiles, Government of India , British Deputy High Commission, US Consulate at Kolkata, a forum of entrepreneurs – TIE (The Indus Entrepreneurs), environmental NGOs like South Asian Forum for Environment (SAFE) and SWITCH ON, media agencies like DRIK India, Bengali bands like Chandrabindoo and Bhoomi, Red FM 93.5 and Bengali newspaper Pratidin .
The campaign advocated the need to choose a new path for sustainable development by deciding on a concrete and effective plan for reducing carbon emissions. And it was given a thought provoking angle with a symposium organized at Rotary Sadan. The theme jingle of ‘Cap The Gap’ campaign, ”bodle dite abohawa ke” reverberated at the auditorium, on 11th of November, sharp at 2 pm. The atmosphere was set for “Brainstorming” a seminar on climate change. The main theme and idea behind such a symposium was to bring forth people from diverse backgrounds to air their views on a common agenda of ‘Climate Change’. The issue of Climate change is both global and local. Together with government officials, environmental activists, scientists, industrialists and journalists the agenda was set for an environmental discourse to focus and put forth various perspectives as to where our priority tasks at home lies as the heads of nations think for the future at the Copenhagen summit.
Our team with its get up of white tees with Cap The Gap’ logo embossed on its shirts made quite a presence against the backdrop of the campaign banner at the venue as the campaign jingle got aired in Radio mirchi (our campaign partner).The registration desk saw people from various walks of life coming in, ranging from tourists (French, American), environmentalists, media, concerned citizens and not to mention our co organizer the PRSI members. The visitor’s keenness to know about the whole idea behind such an initiative was quite heartening and some of the foreigners had to be briefed on the idea behind such a campaign. The programme was initiated by our organization and the distinguished speakers were introduced.
Dr Gon Choudhury’s (MD,WBREDA) lucid yet informative presentation on Alternative Energy Future In India delved into the growing energy needs of emergent economies and bring about a direct correlation of human sustenance with global environment issues. Dr.Choudhury’s years of experience in Alternative Energy solutions made him stress on Solar energy options as one of the cheapest and effective means of bringing down pollution and his presentation ‘GO SOLAR, BYE BYE CO2’ was an effective enough adage to communicate his views on futuristic alternative source of sustainable energy solution.
Dr.Choudhury took the Sunderbans as a case in point and went on to explain how the community energy consumption of such areas is minimal compared to the urban consumption (100 units per month urban consumption whereas 50 units annually for this Delta community.). Inspite of this fact, he stressed that these villagers were more environmentally concerned and made use ofsolar power in a big way. The government, in its endeavour for providing affordable solar power to the masses has distributed solar lanterns to these villagers who have been victims of Aila as well. School children too, have highly benefited from this scheme. The government, he added is setting up several Solar PV Power Plant and Thermal Power Plants and the recently approved Solar Mission, projects a massive expansion in installed solar capacity and aims to reduce the price of electricity generated from solar energy to match that from fossil fuels by 2030. The ambitious mission hopes to generate 20 GW of solar power by 2020. Dr.Chaudhury rounded up the whole talk with a pragmatic and futuristic slide of a little child looking up at the sun which clearly sent the message that ‘The solar mission is a win-win proposition as it promises to bring down air pollution, cut down oil bills, and contribute to a greener world’.
A New Way Ahead-America and Climate Change, the US Consul General Ms Beth Payne address to the house was also focused on the same and she brought about another optimism to the whole discussion by promising support from her country in providing technology transfer. Her recent visit to the Mousumi islands in Sunderbans, and the subsequent meeting with a widow who has lost most of her farmland to the Bay of Bengal made her realize once again how climate change is not just a theory but a harsh reality for the basic survival issue of the villagers. The United States, she stated stepped up its concerted efforts in the last 8 months towards this Global issue and doing more to promote clean energy and reduce carbon pollution. Her country, she stated has also engaged more allies and partners in finding a solution than ever before and put the issue of climate change on top of the diplomatic agenda. The US she conceded, takes the onus of being one of the biggest pollutant but on the same note she said that the state also takes the responsibility of finding ways to reduce this menace by investing in Renewable Energy Resources. In this context she reiterated that the developing nations too have a huge responsibility and need to join hands and work together. She lauded the efforts made by the government of West Bengal in making solar energy as a viable option to provide electricity to the villages in Mousumi islands. Her country, she said can make a difference by disseminating clean technology and sharing know-how with the developing nations. It may look like a difficult road ahead but if the countries are pragmatic and flexible, willing to listen and work towards a common goal then a consensus can be reached .The main agenda however she stressed was not simply an agreement to limit greenhouse gas emissions but seek an agreement to allow all nations to grow and raise living standards without endangering the planet. She ended the address by saying that this opportunity at Copenhagen should be made good use of and the affordable energy solutions should reach the rightful stakeholders so that each individual can contribute towards reaching the millennium goal of reducing emission and obtain a safer, cleaner and healthier world.
The Concern Of Corporate Carbons, Mr.Amitava Datta’s(IT Exponent and CEO of ADAPT Solutions) address pressed on the issue of Development vis a vis ,Sustainable Environmental Development issues. In his opinion the way forward for the industries was adoption of CDM technologies available, focusing on small scale industries, giving leverage to climate friendly measures, measuring carbon footprints and finally giving a huge push to the Research and Development efforts and partner those projects. The credit points accrued, in the process can pave the way for furthering the cause of environmental protection schemes. He informed that about 345 registered CDM projects are operating in our country and a big initiative has been taken towards addressing the issue of climate change in the form of a National Action Plan.
Communicating Climate Change to Communities, The Poor Man’s Apocalypse, Dr.Dipayan Dey’s presentation, was a poignant tale of how climate change is affecting the poorest of the poor and the irony of how these people are oblivious to this fact. For these deprived locals, who cannot afford even two squares of meal a day issues such as climate change are a distant reality. Dr.Dey stated that climate change has been a phenomenon that has been occurring over the years but it is now, in recent years that it has become the apocalypse for the poor,an issue for survival. Dr.Dey’s presentation provided a grim picture of the social separation, wastage of resources, annihilation of cultures and economic discrimination. Dr.Dey’s brought home the ultimate message with the poignant tale of a fisherman in the Sunderbans who wants Mr. Copenhagen to resolve his prime concern of poverty and hunger. The main question was thus how to bring Copenhagen to the masses, how to address the issue from the poor man’s point of view. The bottlenecks involved like uncertainity of climate versus uncertainity of decisions, political will versus resource allocation, conservation priorities versus economic challenges has to be overcome and dealt with. Finding alternative sustainable livelihood was thus a major area to work upon .which can further the cause of mitigating poverty to a great extent. Infrastructure development was another issue he felt which needs to be addressed before taking upon the issue of climate change to these stake holders. Dr.Dey summed up the talk saying that the globe is being challenged, environment is the cap and we need to cap the gap at the earliest and the the fisherman’s outcry echoed through his question “ Can Copenhagen really find the solution???” Ms Beth Payne provided the collective answer, Copenhagen Summit should not be looked at as a ’be all and end all’ of all problems, rather it should pave the way for a consensus on ‘working together’ towards a common goal of building a greener future for the coming generations.
The whole discussion was constructively summarized,during each phase by the master of ceremonies, Mr Surojit Bose( Consultant,PWC). Thus, it was felt that unless and until the alternative energy solutions percolate to the grass roots level, it shall be very difficult to address the issue of climate change on a holistic basis. The developing nations need to address the issue of poverty mitigation and infrastructure development whereas the developed nations should make way for Clean Development Mechanism technology transfer as a viable alternative. The industrial sector of these developing nations by way of using the carbon credits accrued through investing in sustainable energy can bring about a social as well as an environment change. Thus, carbon emission can be lessened and infrastructure can be developed in an environmental friendly way. ‘Cap the gap’ was teamed up with ‘think global and act local, ‘Seal the Deal’ was teamed with’ joint consensus’ to give a more pragmatic view to the whole discussion.
Pete Seeger’s ‘where have all the flowers gone’
Long time passing
Where have all the flowers gone
Long time ago..
Where have all the flowers gone?
Girls have picked them everyone
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?
…….summed up what was left unsaid as the documentary by SAFE depicted the poignant tale of destruction and devastation by mother nature, gone wild.
Banglanatak was lauded for its commendable efforts ,but we at banglanatak feel humbled and believe that this drop in the bucket is just the start of the beginning..
Walk on Climate Change ,Sahid Minar to Mohor Kunja
It was felt that change in lifestyle and behaviour patterns can contribute to climate change mitigation across all stakeholders
Street theatre shows, songs and folk drama were used to spread the message that climate change is a critical global challenge affecting all of us. Rising temperatures and more frequent floods, droughts and storms affect millions of people’s lives in recent times The impacts of climate change range from affecting agriculture to further endangering food security, to rising sea-levels and the accelerated erosion of coastal zones, increasing intensity of natural disasters, species extinction and the spread of vector-borne diseases like malaria and dengue.
The campaign stakeholders thus aimed at spreading awareness and mobilise cross sectoral participation in reducing carbon footprints, reducing use of plastic and using jute, greening workspaces and homes and adopting solutions to make transition to a low carbon economy.
An Awareness Rally was organized from Esplanade to Mohor Kunja on 13th of November. the colourful array of people who joined us were the folk artists such as Chau, Domni the Baul Fakirs, the environmentalists, Street theatre groups, our campaign partners, Jute Manufacturers Development Corporation (JMDC British Deputy High Commission, US Consulate at Kolkata, a forum of entrepreneurs – TIE (The Indus Entrepreneurs), environmental NGOs like South Asian Forum for Environment (SAFE) and SWITCH ON, Bengali bands like Chandrabindoo and Bhoomi..
School and college students who were sensitized during the school campaigns taken earlier joined in to show their solidarity and belief towards this cause. The walk was flagged off by the British Deputy High Commissioner Mr.Sanjay Wadhvani at 2 PM sharp and the whole procession comprising of more than 650 participants wearing the campaign attire of white t shirt and cap embossed with the logo of Cap The Gap made its way through the main thorough fare of the city. The Chau artists with their colourful attires ,the children adorned with masks representing different countries, upholding banners and the Baul fakirs with their songs were the attractions of the awareness walk. The procession with people carrying banners, placards and the 4 degree map given by the British High Commision reached Mohor Kunja and a stage performance by the performing artists was another highlight of theday. People watching the procession voluntarily joined in which reflected the effectiveness of the rally in bringing people together for a common cause. The show ended with a street theatre performance on climate change by the group ‘Mati’. The street theatre depicted the effect of global climate change on the environment as well as its implications on the common people at large. The Copenhagen Summit and its implications were lucidly explained for general awareness and the play with its humour turned out to be quite a crowd puller.The enthusiasm and zest of all the participants proved that the cause was indeed felt for.