Unsustainable lifestyles of the developed nations putting the whole world at risk

India's Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Shri Bhupender Yadav delivered a Special Address in the inaugural session of the 21st edition of the World Sustainable Development Summit 2022 on 16th Feb 2022. WSDS is the annual flagship event by The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI).

The Minister stressed that “to address global environmental challenges, including climate change, we must act now on the basis of agreed globally rules taking into account the principles of Equity and Common but Differentiated Responsibilities and Respective Capabilities. The Paris Agreement goals cannot be reached unless equity is implemented by all countries staying within their fair share of the global carbon budget. Our goal should be equitable sustainable development and equity in climate actions. Only then, ‘climate justice’ can be achieved”.

He further added that approach to utilization of resources must be based on ‘Mindful and Deliberate Utilization’ and not ‘Mindless and Destructive consumption’. The goal of L.I.F.E (Lifestyle for the Environment) that the Prime Minister of India unveiled at COP 26 at Glasgow, should be adopted by the world to safeguard humanity and the planet. “Those who have contributed the most in taking the world in the wrong direction, must also make the maximum effort to come back to the path of sustainability”, said Shri Yadav.

Considering the critical need for saving the environment, the Minister underlined that while the industrial revolution has brought prosperity to countries, it has come at a huge cost to the environment. “Notwithstanding the adverse impacts of the pandemic on the economy, India has in fact enhanced its climate ambition. India is spearheading one of the most ambitious clean energy transitions in the world.

The Minister further stated that the inclusive and sustainable macro-economic development of India requires that both adaptation and mitigation objectives of the country are uniformly and equitably responded, within the larger goal of meeting our people’s aspirations and needs. Our latest Union budget has reaffirmed our determination to go down this path.

Concluding his address with the need for equity, he said that the “developed countries must respond on their part with due ambition and must meet both their promises – of reducing emissions drastically by changing their lifestyles and providing the developing countries with increased finance and technology support’’.

There was a time when only the developed nations had unsustainable lifestyles. Today, even in India, we have lifestyles that are environmentally unsustainable. We have aped the disastrous development model of the west. Today our big cities are becoming bigger. The population density in our metro cities are at least 10 times India's population density. This causes huge demands on water and electricity depleting the ground water level, diverting water from dams at the cost of depriving the downstream people as well as running the river below its optimal ecological flow. It also harms the wildlife and leads to salinity ingress. The huge number of people in big cities leads to massive concretization and due to urban heat-island effect the cities have higher temperatures. This leads to higher demands for air conditioners and higher power consumption is the norm. Urban transportation is also a mess.

In this era of Climate Change, the impact of all our actions are not limited to our geography. The impact is seen everywhere. So it is important that the entire world has to work hand in hand. Unfortunately, the leaders of various countries are not able to show statesmanship. As a result, the world is going to face a full blown climate crisis soon.