This piece, written by 350 messenger, Deepa Gupta, was originally posted on Whatwiththeclimate.org, India’s new youth climate blog, on July 25. This is what real leadership looks like. Bold in every way. It will be exciting to witness how such vision will soon manifest as youth leaders from across India meet for their first Indian Youth Climate Summit in Hyderabad this week…
Vision of young people is simple – we want to enjoy a stable climate that our parents grandparents have enjoyed, one without hundreds and thousands of refugees, resource scarcity, and natural disasters.
The IPCC has stated that to give us a 50% chance of preventing two degrees warming we will require global emissions to be stabilized at 450ppm. Now, even venture capitalists would agree that 50% chance of return isn’t a worthwhile investment. Imagine the loss of this investment resulting in the destruction of our planet. My vision for the long term is that India makes to the 350ppm target, which gives us a strong chance at preventing runaway climate change. Clean technology will need a very strong presence to make this vision reality.
My vision of the next 12 months, which will progress beyond that, is somewhat Gandhi-an.
The Indian attitude to climate change is changing and it is going to heavily impact the cleantech market. What we’re seeing now, with the Indian Youth Climate Network (IYCN) as a great example is that people have an increasing awareness of climate change in both the urban and rural communities of India. Climate change more than anything is an issue of humanity. When it comes to times of crisis humans often band together. India’s fight for independence is an epic example. Climate change is bringing the global community, and will bring India together. It was not luck that allowed IYCN to expand from 3 to over 300 individual members, harbour more than 10 member groups and have the reach to over 205,000 young Indians nation wide. It is not luck that has allowed IYCN to achieve the support of globally rooted organisations such as Infosys, Greenpeace, Reva, WWF and media houses such as NDTV, times of India, the Hindustan times and the Hindu within 4 months of its inception.
Every Indian I’ve met has hope that India will become a developed nation, will not have millions of people die each year from malnutrition disease, and natural catastrophes. We’re working so hard to build our economy, aiming for superpower status, and becoming a leader in the world in many areas, it seems somewhat ludicrous if India doesn’t take far stronger action on climate change, because if it doesn’t, the malnutrition, disease and natural catastrophes are only going to get worse. Hence I feel, like in our fight for independence, the youth & people of India will unite and take action for solutions.
I have 4 big visions. Firstly, an increase in consumer demand for retail & bulk energy from cleantech, Secondly, innovative cleantech transport solutions, thirdly, strong growth in rural clean tech projects, and finally, clean tech being the next IT.
Vision 1: Increase in consumer demand for retail & bulk energy
With increasing realisation of this problem everyone is looking towards the solutions. Clean technology is the necessary solution. Currently the major emitters of the world aren’t making the investments necessary to give us a more than 50% chance of a habitable future. However, increasing education will see a shift in consumers demanding the retail availability of clean energy to power their households. Bulk purchase of clean technology will rise significantly driven by rising awareness amongst corporations? and tertiary institutions. As illustration, one of our member groups is currently running a campaign on IIT campuses promoting green practices, and this is one of many green university campaigns IYCN is seeing. Tertiary institutions will be one of many sectors to jump on the “green” bandwagon as youth awareness and mobilization increases.
Vision 2: Increase in innovative cleantech transport solutions
In the area of transport, motorbike and electric vehicle purchases are rising in the Indian market. The popularity of electric vehicles will grow due to their clean technology power, alternatively to petrol, whose rising prices is significantly altering consumer behaviour. I can say this with confidence, because IYCN is in the process of launching our climate solutions road tour from Delhi to Kanya Kumari, the southernmost tip of India in six weeks, in 3 solar powered electric cars. This has been a very popular idea, and has found strong support from individuals and groups such as Times of India amongst other organisations. Solutions such as solar-powered electric cars, will make the cleantech industry a source of inspiration and vibrant visions of hope for those feeling despair in the face of the climate.
Vision 3: Strong growth in rural clean tech projects
I don’t think clean tech is only a solution for securing a stable climate, it is also a solution for today’s development, alleviating people from poverty, and providing a stable source of electricity that most Indians are denied. Rural communities face difficulties from lack of electricity and health issues from the burning of kerosene and firewood, which greatly contributes to their poverty. Supporting rural India with clean technology is integral not only because it will mitigate 26% of India’s emissions, but will provide a livelihood to people and assuage communal poverty. Rural India holds vast untapped sources and holds great potential. Many people within IYCN have come together to start IYCN’s own decentralised rural energy project in Tamil Nadu with biogas chulha’s (stoves) and decentralised solar lighting. This is a demonstration that young people along with many others now understand the importance of clean technology.
Vision 4: Clean tech will be the next IT
Personally, I don’t see the Indian government taking the necessary action in the required time frame to lead India into a stable future. This opinion has been reaffirmed by the recently released climate action plan from our Indian government. However I see our people, NGO’s and our companies ensuring this. I see clean technology as the next IT. The IT industry has supported the Indian people in our country’s development and progress and has created a new age of sleek professionals, building a credible image of India on the international front. I see the clean tech as an iconic industry. It will support the Indian future, support development in our rural communities, helping light up homes of those who can’t access electricity. Clean Technology companies are in desperate need for skilled workers, I see it creating a mass job alternative over the next 10-20 years like IT has over the past 10 years. I see the clean tech industry as ensuring stable electricity that for most Indians is a dream, that are respectable, healthy and support our Indian economy. Clean technology is the hope for our countries economy, heath, development and environment.
Most of all, clean technology, and all other SOLUTIONS TO CLIMATE CHANGE WILL BE WHAT ALLOW INDIA TO REACH SUPERPOWER STATUS!