Mausam
Talking Climate in Public Space

by India Climate Justice Collective

first published 31 May 2014

The second (January-March 2014) issue of the new Mausam – a magazine published by the India Climate Justice collective that connects climate issues to local struggles over natural resources, fossil fuel extraction, and land, livelihood and food rights – examines India’s vulnerability to climate change through stories and analysis of extreme weather events such as the Himalayan floods in 2013 and ‘killer’ hailstorms in Maharashtra in 2014.

After disastrous floods in the Himalayan provinces of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh in June 2013, a government Expert Body report recommended that at least 23 proposed hydropower projects be abandoned, because the construction of large-scale dams had contributed significantly to the flooding. The issue highlights critical sections of the report, determining that most of its recommendations should be implemented immediately.

In February and March 2014, record-breaking heavy rains and hailstorms battered the western state of Maharashtra, killing people and animals, and ruining ripe crops of grape, sugarcane, cotton, wheat, pomegranate and banana. Nonetheless the state still does not have an adequate climate action plan.

In anticipation of the country’s general election, which ran for just over a month from 7 April to 12 May 2014, the issue compares and contrasts the election manifestos of four political parties – Congress, BJP, Communist Party of India (Marxist) and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) – assessing the extent to which they are aware of and prepared to tackle ordinary people’s access to energy and the impacts of climate change. The analysis concludes that election promises made by all parties rely on fossil or nuclear fuels, and that none of them seem to be aware of the significant impacts climate change is already having on people in India, particularly those whose livelihoods depend on their immediate natural environment.

India’s capital, Delhi, is producing more waste than ever before. Landfills pile up and waste-to-energy plants pollute the air but still significant quantities of waste lie uncollected by the municipal authorities. The mass of accumulated rubbish would be far more, however, if some 150,000 wastepickers and junk dealers did not recycle at least 2,000 tonnes of paper, plastic, metals and glass every day; their actions prevent more greenhouse gases from escaping into the atmosphere than any waste project in the city receiving official carbon credits – over three times more. The issue summarises five ways in which Delhi could be sustainably cleaned up by if this informal waste sector was more actively involved: doorstep collection; allocating areas for waste; preventing privatised corporate monopoly on municipal waste collection; segregating recyclable waste from landfill; and supporting the informal sector.