By Matters India Reporter
Hyderabad, July 12, 2019: Montfort Social Institute in Hyderabad, India, will host the launch meeting of the newly formed South Asian People’s Action on Climate Crisis (SAPACC), a rainbow coalition of South Asian civil society organizations.
The September 18-21 meet on “Keep the Climate, Change the Economy” will draw environmental activists from the region.
“Youth, women, farmers, workers, fisher folk, scientists, and lay people worried about how climate change will impact them, their children and their livelihoods, and who wish to act collectively to mitigate it,” explain the organizers of the meet in a press release.
About 250 delegates are expected to attend the meet; 30-35 percent of them will be from countries other than India, the organizers say. “The Inaugural function will be attended by 1,200 persons, including trade union workers and children who have gone on strike against climate change,” they further say.
SAPACC was formed in May this year to bring together youth, women, farmers, workers, fisher folk, scientists, and people of all walks of life who are concerned with the impacts of climate change.
It intends to appeal to South Asian governments to make declarations and follow them with appropriate actions to mitigate the climate crisis, and to table resolutions in the United Nations for taking urgent action at the global level.
The coalition aims to work with South Asian civil societies to take urgent measures to reduce the risk of climate change impacts.
The meet aims to create a platform for civil society action to mitigate climate change impacts on a crisis basis and share information on climate change impacts and mitigation programs.
It will also strive to raise public awareness regarding climate change impacts and mobilize public action to mitigate it. It will also influence public policy on climate change in South Asia based on climate science and mass action.
The core demands of the meet would be:
• Sustainability: Emissions of developed nations must become net zero (CO2 emissions must equal sequestration) by 2030, and of developing nations by 2040. Gross global consumption should be reduced to sustainable levels.
• Equity: The ratio of maximum to minimum income or energy consumption for all people in the world should not exceed 2.
• Decentralization, democratic, transparent governance: Governance should be decentralized and democratic; all governance information should be in public domain.
• Environmental restoration: Degraded land, water, air, and to the extent possible, biodiversity should be restored to their pre-industrial period quality.
• Responsibility for loss and damage: All nations/regions should take responsibility for the impacts of climate change —displacement, property loss, environmental damage, etc—in proportion to their historic emissions (emissions from 1800-todate).
South Asia is one of the most vulnerable areas in the world to climate change impacts. Barring Bhutan and Sri Lanka, all other South Asian nations are at very high risk to climate change.
By 2100, Pakistan will be extremely water stressed, the Maldives will drown, a quarter of Bangladesh will be under the sea, causing tens of millions of climate refugees, Nepal will face unprecedented floods from melting glaciers, and parts of India will reel under floods while other parts will face continuous drought.
The UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres’s has described the current situation as “an emergency we face, and that unless we make a course change by 2020, we face the possibility of a runaway climate change with disastrous consequences.”
Since the industrial revolution began, human society has emitted a massive amount of CO2 into the atmosphere, raising its concentrations to an unprecedented 415 ppm today that is 50 percent over pre-industrial times. This has destabilized our climate and already caused an average global temperature rise of a little over 1°C.
The consequences are rapid glacier melt, rising sea levels, acidifying oceans, greater monsoon unpredictability, more extreme weather events such as heat waves and heavy rainfall, which have posed a grave threat to both the natural world and to human society.
The acceleration in the rate of change of climate change impacts today is worrisome—Himalayan glaciers are melting twice as fast as they did 25 years ago, sea level rise is 50 percent more than earlier, cyclone intensity has increased, insect populations are dwindling rapidly, and droughts and extreme weather events have become more frequent.
Despite the 2015 inter-governmental Paris Agreement, CO2 emissions are still rising; and at current emission rates, we will cross the 1.5-2oC do-not-cross temperature rise redline in a few decades.
Climate change has put the earth’s environment and human society at the risk of drastic and permanent damage. Without immediate and deep emission cuts, temperature rise by 2100 may be 3-4oC over pre-industrial times, and possibly more if inherent tipping points are crossed. In other words, the average temperature in future may be nearly as high as what meteorological departments currently classify as heat waves.
The United Kingdom and Ireland have recently declared a climate emergency, as have many cities in Canada, Australia, USA, New Zealand, Switzerland, Austria, Spain and Belgium. Climate emergency declarations cover 100 million people today, but how these official declarations will translate into climate change mitigation action is yet unclear.