Right to health is a basic human right and we should not deny ourselves of it

-Sanjana K

The teaser trailer of this year’s incredible broadcast event 24 HOURS OF REALITY 2018™: PROTECT OUR PLANET, PROTECT OURSELVES left me thrilled.

I sensed that this could be a great opportunity to join forces in Bangalore to highlight what might be the greatest threat to public Heath- CLIMATE CRISIS. Without further ado, I reached out to my tribe- Global Shapers Community Bangalore and Climate Reality Project India to host a Watch Party for the first time ever in Bangalore during the India hour (Hour 9) followed by a Panel discussion.

Hosting this Watch Party made me realise that I am not alone in this endeavour. There are amazing people, forces, organisations and resources out there who are more than willing to join hands for urgent climate action.

On December 4th, 2018, we brought together 15 Climate Reality leaders, Global Shapers, students and members of the community at Ashoka Innovators for the Public office in Bangalore. Trained Climate Reality Leaders Mr. HC Sharat Chandra and Mr.CB Ramkumar graciously accepted our invitation to join us as panelists. Shabbir Esmaël, a dear friend, Climate Reality Leader, Global Shaper (Port Louis Hub) also joined us. We were also able to reach 25+ viewers through our social media live broadcast of the event.

Watch Party in Bengaluru

The live presentation by Vice President Al Gore during the India hour focused on five areas of Health and Climate crisis, i.e., heat stress, air pollution, extreme weather events, infectious diseases and water. The facts are alarming-

So it’s not surprising our nation has forged ahead on solar development. The International Solar Alliance (ISA) spearheaded by India is an alliance of 121 tropical “sunshine countries” working together to harness solar energy and to reduce dependence on fossil fuels. By 2030, the ISA plans to mobilize $1trillion for future solar generations, storage, and technology across the 121 sunshine countries. They aim to add 1,000 gigawatts of additional solar energy capacity by 2030, which is 2.5 times more solar energy than the world had installed in 2017. This looks promising and doable simply because of the following fact!

In a single hour, the amount of energy from the sun that strikes the earth is more than the entire world consumes in a single year

The conversations with Dr. K. Srinath Reddy, the president of the Public Health Foundation of India, and World Health Organization regional director Dr. Poonam Khetrapal Singh, gave us insights into the problems faced by the poor, disadvantaged and vulnerable groups- who are the most impacted by climate change. According to a study in Ahmedabad, Gujarat(2011), it was found that during ‘heat spike’ in the month of May, there was 43% excess mortality than the deaths which occur during a normal year. Dr. Srinath spoke about the implementation of Heat Action Plan in Ahmedabad which ensured the reduction in mortality during heat spikes.

Besides, it was stressed that Climate crisis is not just a health crisis but its fringe effect lead to farmer suicides, food crisis, population displacement, water crisis, ecological changes to name a few. They opined that Climate mitigation and adaptation, building resilient health systems, making universal health coverage a reality and decarbonising are measures to tackle health and climate crisis.

Further, Mr. Kamal Meattle, the author of ‘How to grow fresh air’ spoke about freeing the Indian roads from polluting vehicles, saving trees and designing green buildings.

What is more, there was a special feature of “India lighting the way”, a short documentary on how Dhundi village(Gujarat) farmers have been able to increase their income by 20–25% through the usage of solar energy pumps instead of diesel pumps to irrigate their fields.

Post the live broadcast, our panel discussion took off with our panel of experts introducing themselves and sharing their climate action and sustainability journey with us. I had the privilege of moderating this panel which was so deeply energising that it stretched to two and a half hours. We engaged the experts on questions such as what are the loopholes in Karnataka’s policies; what role can the private sector play; how to tackle the challenges that we face in turning climate-friendly, how to bring about behavioural changes in people we interact with; how to deal with deniers and naysayers and so on.

We resolved to form ‘Climate Warriors Collective’ in Bangalore bringing together Climate Reality leaders, Global Shapers and climate enthusiasts from all sections of the society to drive climate action. Mr. SharatChandra proposed a mentor-mentee format for the Collective and volunteered to mentor young people who are eager to pitch in their ideas for climate action. Mr. CB Ramkumar offered to extend his support as well and guide us by providing resources and training to this end.

The key takeaways from our discussion can be summed up as follows:

🌏 People-driven transition: Since we, citizens and the private sector are not limited by the constraints as in the case of the government such as processes and procedures, we can individually and collectively work towards innovative solutions for sustainability and climate crisis.

🌏 ‘Influence’ rather than ‘inform’: As much as we need a policy, the private sector and individuals needs to advocate, create awareness and lead by example so that people are ‘influenced’ to take climate action and not just ‘aware’ of the crisis.

🌏 ‘Raise up’ for quantum climate action: Besides asking people to take small steps for climate action, empower them to ‘raise up’ and do something exponentially big to solve climate crisis because we as human beings are endowed with the ‘will’ and ability to bring about a quantum change

🌏 Facilitation first: Ask our local government, leaders, organisation to facilitate conditions for behavioural change first, before measuring the effect. For instance, the installation of adequate garbage bins in public spaces

Facilitation => Convenience => Behavioural change

🌏 Follow nature’s path: In nature, everything is circular, whereas all our activities are linear. Following nature’s path i.e., adopting a circular approach, for instance, the circular economy is the simplest solution to the climate crisis.

🌏 Make the right choice- the ‘sustainable choice’: When it comes to tackling sustainability and climate crisis, we are always faced with choices. It is these choices that decide whether we are being a part of the problem or being a part of the solution.

Therefore, choose the sustainable option every time as though our world depends on it because it does depend on it!

Sanjana is a lawyer by profession, trained climate reality leader (Los Angeles Leadership Corps Training, 2018), World Economic Forum’s Global Shaper- Bangalore hub. She is focused on making an impact in her fields of interest -Sustainability, Climate change and Environment, Human rights, Women rights and Cybercrime.

The Climate Reality Project India, actively engages igniting the spark and spreading the message of #climatechange amongst educators and civil society.

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