Tuesday, December 22, 2009

GNH and Copenhagen climate conference

The conference: Educating GNH that ended exactly a week before the signing of the Copenhagen Accord, had requested the participants to use the pool bus service that was being provided for the national participants.

The message in the invitation card said: Leave your car home and use the pool transportation service and of course thereby lessen the carbon emission. We don’t know how many of the participants agreed to the suggestion.

Though the Prime Minister did mention at the GNH conference about providing free bicycles to many of the citizens as a mode of transportation, to cut down on the carbon emission, many world leaders in his position, meeting in Copenhagen and spending millions of dollars to be just there, refused a simple solution that might prevent the world from being swamped by ocean waves, or just blowing apart the world in one big bang.

Ah, the world, according to the scientists, started with a big bang. Are we also going out in a bang – a flash of blinding light and smoke? That is what it is going to result in taking in all the intransigence that developed nations have displayed at the Copenhagen climate conference.

Perhaps, they would like to go to the moon or even Mars for holidays when all the beautiful island nations around the world go under the sea and the Himalayas, the Alps, Rocky Mountains and the Andes are bereft of glaciers and snow.

A climate writer even mentioned that a lot of animal species that are in the food chain, along with other fruit species might be lost to the world, if the soaring temperature is not kept in check before it is too late. This is something that had been happening since the pre-industrial days; we cannot reverse the process and put it back, but at least we can contain it and stop it from becoming worse.

At Copenhagen, the world leaders only came out with the motion that they were “taking note” but never agreed on the specifics for carbon emissions, which even Obama conceded, was “not enough.” Like Obama added, we have come a long way but we still have much further to go.

How much further? And what will happen during that period is another question?

The plea of the V-11 (vulnerable countries) has fallen on deaf years. Nepal’s cabinet going up to the base of Mount Everest and Maldives’ under the sea to hold cabinet meetings to express their concern will go into history as another gimmick that failed. But then, those acts were not mere publicity device to attract the world attention. For Maldives, it was a matter of survival if the world temperature went up by 2C.

How much carbon can Bhutan sink that the world is producing with its 72 per cent forest coverage? Our Prime Minister even mentioned the possibility of providing free bicycles, if there were any takers, and the opposition leader was already reported to be trying to ride a bike at the centre of Thimphu town.

That is a natural step when you think that preservation of natural environment is one of the pillars of Gross National Happiness. It will not only cut down the carbon emission but also noise pollution.

Yet, while more and more Bhutanese are queuing up to buy cars, with so many new car agencies offering different brands of different makes, shapes, colour and sizes, it is good to note that the agriculture minister, Lyonpo Pema Gyamtsho and his staff members are still walking to the office every Tuesday.

That is just one small step towards reducing carbon emission.

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