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Agenda for Ecologically Safe Cities

The paper with description of the climate change, approaches for addressing it, hurdles in the way for needful changes in policy presents importance of interfaith commons as the grounds on which a comprehensive strategy needs to be built. This paper should be read by all seeking an answer to the kinds of changes required for addressing the critical challenge.

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Agenda for Ecologically Safe Cities

  2. 2. What is climate change? It is a change in the climate with rise in temperature of earth, change in rainfall patterns caused due to emission of gases that is raising the temperature of earth as the amount of green house gases generated is much more than the capacity of the green cover for absorbing. Impact are being felt everywhere with impacts beyond the national boundaries. There are several recorded evidences that has caused nations to take on the challenge of global warming .Since 1997 UN intergovernmental panel on climate change has been meeting and deliberating on the issue . There are several national responses and international agreements. Recently China and US has expressed agreement work on climate. Speaking on occasion of APEC summit in Sydney, Australia Mr. Hu Jintao maintained that “the United Nations Framework convention should remain the main channel for the international efforts” to address climate change (The Hindu, September 7, 2007). The Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which emphasised the far-reaching consequences that continued global warming would have across the world, has given fresh impetus to finding solution to the problem. The summit meeting of the Group of Eight industrialised countries (G8) held in June 2007 in Germany could saw the launch of new initiatives for collective action by both rich nations and fast- growing developing countries to combat climate change. In its Fourth Assessment Report, the IPCC, the international body that has the task of weighing scientific evidence on climate change, pointed to definitive evidence that global atmospheric concentration of key greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide had “increased markedly as a result of human activities since 1750”. These gases were trapping the Earth’s heat that would otherwise have radiated out into space. If the build-up of greenhouse gases and the resultant warming of the planet was allowed to continue unchecked, there were be irreversible damage to the eco- systems across the world with suffering for the billions. Already we have evidences the villages moving away from sea as more and more coastal area are getting submerged in the sea. What is being done? Lots of seminars and conferences have been organized for addressing the global challenge. There are Kyoto protocol emission targets for which national strategies have been devised. Kyoto Protocol formally known as intergovernmental panel on climate change. International agreements have been made for reducing the emissions by the year 2020. There exists a vibrant mobilization of civil society and m mobilization of youth groups. Several groups are working for the policy advocacy for implementing the binding targets for the emission of green house gases. There also exists a dynamic policy advocacy for R&D in renewable energy for ensuring full scale replacement of non-renewable resource based energy. What are the instruments advocated for mitigating the climate change Energy efficient technologies are being developed for minimizing the consumption of the energy. CFL lamps are being promoted and the distribution of CFL lamps for the scheduled caste household is an example of value on the energy efficient utilities and equipments for contributing in the reduction of green house gas emissions. There also goals for replacement of non-renewable energy throng renewable energy .Green party in Germany seek full scale replacement of non-renewable energy by renewable energy by the year 2020. Treaties signed but not religiously followed. More funding for research for globalizing renewable energy based services and utilities. Binding targets on emission reduction is not there as is evident from the aspirational recommendation of the APEC summit concluded recently in Sydney as
  3. 3. part of the processes for the UN framework convention on climate change to be held in Bali in the month of December 2007. There are plans of Action devoid of binding policies and target for the emission of green house gases. Problems in the strategies Marketing of ecologically safe consumption production Discouraging Promotion of exhibitionist ecologically consumption sustainable parties habitats Ecologically safe national strategy/ Faith based Promotion of development measures for neighbourhoo paradigm transformation d trade and of leisure use education pattern Promotion of Ecologically ecologically sustainable sustainable agriculture transport There are strategies that have been identified with global recognition of the need to reduce green house emissions. Even so, they get defeated as goals are set with contradicting outcomes and visions .For example, GDP calculation does consider the impact on environment and ecological costs are not therefore factors in the calculation of gross Domestic Product. Costs on environments are ignored following the conviction that all the resources are for the use and their non-utilisation is an indicator of low technological development. An ecologically sustainable habitat is not considered valuable with ecologically sustainable livelihoods. Quarterly reporting on the increase in the GDP does not factor the increase in green house gas emissions. 7th Generation Initiative in Canada with wellbeing measurement Act in an initiative for factoring the ecological costs and cost of women's work at home. They believe that calculation of gross domestic product must include the cost on the
  4. 4. environment that our actions in the present have Mike Nickerson and Joe Jordon have been campaigning for years. Political parties continue to be inspired by short term visions and it not quite their fault. SIMPOL is working with the voters globally for influencing the simultaneous adoption of policies. There is need to ensure more and more simultaneous actions globally for peaceful actions, decisions, choices that will contribute in collective ecological safety. Political parties need to be educated for supporting the policies that ensure protection of ecologically sustainable livelihoods and habitats. Labour League Foundation ,Sufi Trust and CEASIG has been part of National Forum of Forest Workers and Forest People supporting the rights of land in their traditional habitats through deleting the impact of colonial legislations that deprived them their rights to homestead and agriculture lands. Green parties are concerned about the ecologically safe issues but their voters are few .Most of the political parties are concerned with issues that are more appealing to the elite and the middle class in the immediate present. Another major hurdle experienced in the way of getting global responses for mitigating the climate change is continued marketing of fossil fuel intensive consumption patterns, urban habitats designs, development paradigm, competitive nationalisms for seeking the markers of fossil fuel intensive lifestyles, devaluation of the ecologically sustainable agriculture consumption patterns. There exists continued political support for cultural products and processes that are inimical to national and global ecological safety. While there are measures for ecological impact/ environment impact assessments but then there markedly exists absence of concerns for addressing the root causes of ecological and man made disasters. Marginalisation of the faith based groups by the atheistic intelligentsia continues to be problem that needs to be addressed. Towards a solution Reduction in the emission of green house gases through promoting measures and decision patterns that moderate the consumption of services and utilities based on the consumption of green house emitting fossil fuels. Following diagram attempts to demonstrate the relations that adoption of prayer 5 times a day on the consumption pattern. Men and women following the commands for prayer 5 times are not likely to indulge in consumption of lots evening post work engagements that required long distance travels as this would interfere in observance of the command for prayer /salah at the appointed hours. It can be easily seen that adoption of this command will ensure transformation of lots of consumption of fossil fuel intensive leisure such as going to bar and dancing halls. This can be adopted along with several other personal and community responses for reducing the emission of green houses. Faith based responses appear to be more effective and they need to be promoted as for this there is no need to make additional efforts. Association of ‘conservatism’ appears to be more one of the response that some men and women may have for communication of faith based measures. But then it is important to see the importance of the adoption of faith based measure for ecological efficacy, safety, suitability, desirability and validity. Faith based responses are common and they just need to be promoted for their contribution in the ecological wellbeing at the personal, community, social, national and global levels. There is an urgent need for the same. Personal faith based responses
  5. 5. Prayer 5 times a day for transforming leisure use pattern recognising that leisure use patterns are one of the key social engagements that consume most of the fossil fuel based services and utilities .Commands for prayer is common across the religious texts though it appears most prominently practiced by men and women following the communications of the last messenger. How adoption of prayer transforms the consumption patterns Men and women practicing prayer (salah in Arabic) do not visit dancing halls and bars as they are more concerned about praying in time. Prayer in the afternoon, after sunset and then prayer after dinner in the mosques makes them bound to focus on the necessary work only. Prayer and remembrance for them is a mean of relaxation, stress busting, socialization, and communion and so on. S/he concentrates on the essential matters in the neighbourhood and cares for them as commanded through the messengers. Secondly they abstain from exhibitionist consumption following the command of Allah for not transgressing the bounds/limits set by Allah. For dressing they believe that the best dress is that of piety determined by the extent to which they follow the commands of Allah. They abstain from adultery following the commands against the same as they believe in upholding the best standards of peaty. They seek forgiveness from Allah for the sinful deeds executed intentionally or unintentionally. Thus adoption of prayer 5 times a day works as a guard for all the behaviours that have been prohibited in the holy books across the religions. They donate out of the sustenance for poor following the commands for zakat, khairat, fitra and sadaqah. They do not waste and thus observe the best of the ideals communicated through the slogan of ‘waste not, want not’. They indulge in ecologically safe consumption and believe in moderation in all matters. The middle path communicated through the Reduction in the consumption of fossil fuel based services and Reduction in the utilities through emission of green gases transformation of leisure use pattern Prayer 5 times a day for Ecological safety with transformation of ecologically sustainable exhibitionist consumption and leisure habitats and livelihoods use patterns globally
  6. 6. commands of Allah is best ensured through the adoption of compulsory prayers 5 times a day. Men and men following the commands in Shiv Sankalp Taru for remembrance of Ishwar are likely to have the similar best behaviour patterns that are ecologically safe. Their average ecological footprints are likely to be very low. This needs to be established with communication of more ecological audits/ water audits/green audits/ energy audits/ paper audits/ food intake audits- a series of audits that men and women following the command of Allah perform or they are supposed to perform. They ensure more and more pious behaviour, consumption and production patterns. Centre for Ecological Audit, Inclusion and global governance would like to promote generation of more pious responses as they are directly linked to reduction in the emission of green house gases. Inter faith commons for making the cities ecologically sustainable and socially equitable Centre for Ecological Audit, Inclusion and Governance(CEASIG) believes in the inter faith commons that need to be communicated and disseminated for not only global integration but also for addressing the critical ecological challenge that we as part of humanity face . Global warming is no longer a concern of a particular nations but it is an issue that we all as part of humanity face. Inter faith commons need to bring to the fore for understanding that we have common monotheistic content and messengers who upheld the best standards of justice, communication, and struggle in their life time and fought men and women after utilizing the best means of persuasion. Shiv Sankalp Taru has a very interesting verse that needs to be brought in light for men and women who have special affinity for the Sanskrit textual tradition. The timings are very much common to the timing followed by the Muslims. It is a command that needs to be followed by all. Muslims already follow that following the communication of God/BRAHMM communicated through the last messenger while believing that commands were communicated through all the messengers earlier in various languages and lands. They need to know more and more that the commands followed by Muslims are the commands that were communicated through the earlier messengers also. Muslims rightly believe that messengers were sent to all the lands to people who spoke various languages following the related verse in the holy Qur’an. Commands in Shiv Sankalp Taru “Ishwar smarate panch awasare” calls for remembrance of Ishwar who was neither born nor gave on five occasions in a day, every day-all the 365/366 days of the year. Establish prayer at the appointed hours 5 times (The Holy Qur’an).According to one count there are command for establishing salah and give zakat more that 54 times in the holy Qur’an. There are commands in Bible and Torah. Buddhist monotheistic tradition calls for fighting the ‘mara’ in the Dhammapada and the atheistic understanding calls for adoption of middle path in all the matters. Practice of meditation leads to transformation of consumption patterns. Gurus in the Sikhism and Jain traditions are examples of austere life filled with prayer and penance. Guru Nanak was a practitioner of prayer and remembrance and he is revered for that and followed by millions of Sikhs around the world. For Sikhs, it is not impossible to follow the best practices of Guru Nanak who established himself as a role model for millions of Sikhs around the world. Following table indicates interfaith commons and the impacts of its global and simultaneous adoption on ecological safety.
  7. 7. Islam Christianit Brahmanism Sikhism Judaism Buddhism Jainism y Prevention of √ √ √ √ √ √ √ usury Prohibition of √ √ √ √ √ √ √ adultery and homosexualit y Propagation √ √ √ √ √ √ √ of austerity Protection of √ √ √ √ √ √ √ the institution of family Command for √ √ √ √ √ √ √ donating for the poor Command for √ √ √ √ √ √ √ prayer How an ecologically sustainable / contended reverent economy does is built up with happiness for all Ecological economists are currently debating issues with the Washington consensus economist and fighting the (there is no alternative) syndrome TINA .Noam Chomsky believes in the alternative economic order. He also believes in the alternative political and cultural order .Binary economists are calling for abolition of interest charged on the loans as they believe creation of money from thin air in the books of the bankers is responsible for lots of ecologically hostile and socially inequitable practices in consumption, production and distribution. Elimination of usury, fiat money that is propelling the ecologically hostile growth of urban habitats is being pointed out to be a critical factor in building a socially inclusive and ecologically safe economy. Similarly, debt free credit /interest free loans are being promoted for zero debt distressed suicides and bankruptcies. Another major feature of contented and ecological sustainable economy is protection of ecologically sustainable habitats with renewable resource based life support systems. It is simply impossible to envisage sustainability of non-renewable based transport systems in perpetuity. Search for nuclear energy and intense research activity in the renewable resource based energy is a proof for this. It needs to be noted that while nuclear energy in the short run appears to be carbon neutral, but I the long run, this is also not sustainable as there are limited resources for running the reactors. It is clear that resources such as uranium and thorium are not for all the time in the future. Following Diagram shows the essential constituents of an ecologically sustainable economy: • Debt free money and interest free loans with public control on the creation of money • Rights to renewable resource based habitats • Ecologically sustainable leisure use patterns
  8. 8. • Distributive justice for renewable resource based livelihoods • Freedom from worried of energy crisis • Protection of Renewable resource based livelihoods Debt free money /interest free loans with public money Protection of Rights to Renewable renewable resource based resource based livelihoods habitats Ecologically Sustainable/ Contended reverent economy Ecologically Freedom from sustainable worried of leisure use energy crisis patterns Distributive justice for renewable resource based livelihoods Freedom from worries of energy crisis affecting energy intensive transportation systems and habitats is an essential constituent of an ecologically sustainable and socially equitable economy .At present most of the planners are concerned with the increasing energy requirements and for this some countries are ready to sacrifice their ideals and foundations of foreign policy. Left parties in India along with other parties have been vociferously opposing the loss of independence in the foreign policy of India. It is important to ensure sustainability for the renewable resource based life support systems and for this it is important to halt the loss of ecologically sustainable habitats and agricultural production methodologies. It is not
  9. 9. possible to ensure sustainability for habitat designs that are based on unsustainable energy sources. Therefore, it is not possible to ensure sustainability for skyscraper laden urban habitats. Urban areas with shopping malls will no longer expand and remain within ecologically sustainable limits. Who will lead the charge? Creating debt free money and ensuring interest free loans in not quite easy as requires change of hearts and minds of men and women who find the proposals difficult. Success of the proposals for ecologically sustainable and socially equitable economy and polity required multiplication of men and women who uphold the criterion of piety. It is important that the pious men and women across the world prohibiting peacefully what is wrong and prescribing what is right take charge of the governance and ensure that debt free money is created, faith based measures are adopted for mitigating the impacts of climate change. It is important to understand the need to prepare for life after death as that would impel men and women to adopt faith based measures more and more. Now, the signs of ecological distress too compelling to avoid collective and personal actions for both mitigate the impacts of climate change. It is not the after death concerns that are important but signs of ecological distress affecting the lives of billions are clear indicators for change and taking corrective action locally and globally. Youths and corporation who are market for non-renewable energy intensive services and utilities need to be in charge. No longer, atheistic postmodernist notions of lasses fair regimen of cultural, political and moral governance can be allowed to further damage the survival interests of the billions in here and now and that of future generations. Hurdles in the way There are hurdles in the way for such a massive change taking place simultaneously and globally and most pernicious among the faith based notions are that of neo-liberal atheistic ideology where market and profit devoid of the concerns of eternal interests of mankind are permitted to have full freedom. It is the anti-church and anti-Islamic communications that are the major hurdles in the way of change. It is dominance of atheistic neo-liberal ideology that prevents men and women from adopting the faith based pious measures for addressing the global and local challenges. The second hurdle is the lack on coherent national and international policy with respect to addressing the climate change. While Kyoto protocol emission target call for reduction in the emission of green house gases, national development strategies continue to be inspired by the perception of competitive disadvantage. It is dangerous to have such incoherence for long time as the assessments of climate scientists are too compelling. Speaking on the occasion of a meeting to the launch the full report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change on the impacts of global warming, Professor Martin Parry, a climate scientist with MET office in UK and co-chairman of the working group for the report said, “We are all used to talking about the impact of these changes coking in the lifetime of our children and grand children. Now we know that it is us.” He added that politicians had wasted a decade in focussing on ways to cut emissions, and had woken up recently to the need to adapt. He felt that “mitigation has got all the attention, but we cannot mitigate out of this problem. We have now a choice between a damaged world and a severely damaged world”. (The Hindu 20 September 2007)
  10. 10. The hurdle can be seen through assessing the levels of convergence for the various agencies and their functioning. While there are calls for higher rates of growth, they are not assessed in the light of the demands of ecological sustainability. Even the promotion of indexes such as “sustainability index” is not getting the required attention and it has been left to the discretion of the nations. There are evidences of lack of interagency cooperation and United National Development Programme (UNDP) works against United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) mandate. Environment assessments /ministries are slighted for benefiting ecologically hostile proposals/ policies. More often than not considerations of ecological sustainability are ignored for sanctioning ecologically hostile projects. Therefore there is a need to institute a governance framework that is both ecologically safe and socially inclusive with reference to poor, old, children and women, ethnic and religious group residing both in rural and urban habitats. Labour League Foundation and Sufi Trust through its centre for ecological audit, social inclusion and governance considers the need for establishing ecologically safe and socially inclusive governance with the following features • A governance that is cognizant of the needs of poor, rights of farmers and villages to ecologically sustainable livelihoods and habitats • Governance that eliminates fictitious inflationary money responsible for expansion of ecologically hostile habitats • Governance that promotes pious and ecologically safe consumption and production pattern • A government that plans for ecologically safe disaster free future for all • Governance that ensure ecologically safe distribution of natural resources • Governance that works for the interests of all • Governance that ensures policy making for the rights of children, future generations and poor
  11. 11. . Ensures policy making for the rights of children, future generations and poor Plans for Ensures the best ecologically safe interest for all disaster free /win- win for all future for all Ecological sustainable and Promotes pious socially inclusive and ecologically governance safe Ensures consumption and ecologically safe production distribution of pattern natural resources Recognises the Eliminates needs of poor, fictitious rights of farmers inflationary money and villages to responsible for ecologically expansion of sustainable livelihoods and ecologically hostile habitats habitats Diagram-4 Represents the features of ecologically safe and socially inclusive governance
  12. 12. Strategies for ecologically sustainable cities 1. Multiplication of carbon neutral neighbourhood discussions across the cities and villages. These discussions could be initiated by youth and community elders in the neighbourhood where they gather for collective prayer, discussions. The recommendations of the discussion simultaneous action could be presented in the form of a memorandum to the various stakeholders at the various levels and and world leader gathered in various summits. The first summit that has been covered by Labour League Foundation was Green House Gas Summit held in Indonesia in December 2007. The discussions will have local, national and global impacts. Local impact will be generated through transformation of the leisure use pattern, consumption pattern. Email will be used for transmitting the message globally through the e-group posts. The discussions will be facilitated by CEASIG volunteers or the resident welfare associations will be provided with discussion kits. CEASIG, LLF volunteers will also collect feedback on improving the mass communication strategies for reducing personal contribution to the green house gases. The discussions on the urgency of reducing green house gases will lead to the transformation of personal level consumption patterns. CEASIG believes that personal responses are critical for transformation of the consumption of pattern. Unsustainable consumption patterns can be halted with the personal responses. Personal responses are always part of the global responses. Carbon neutral neighbourhood discussions (CNNDs) will multiply ecologically safe responses across the urban and rural areas. 2. Multiplication of ecologically safe responses through promotion of green journalism- production of analytical and advisory outputs through journalists is critical and they are one of the major stakeholders in shaping the opinions, consumption patterns. Journalists writing on lifestyle can substantially influence the consumption pattern of people in the urban. They can help in shaping the tastes and defining the choices. Journalists are important is generating democratic consensus for halting unsustainable consumption patterns. In our times, journalists play a very critical and sometimes they are responsible for defining the social, cultural and political trends. Labour League Foundation wishes to secure the future of working class with ecologically sustainable habitats, consumption patterns through its Centre for Ecological Audit, Social Inclusion and Governance. 3. Catalysing green politics /open politics- Labour league Foundation and Centre for Ecological Audit, Social Inclusion and Governance will be supporting the process for open and transparent politics for instilling the importance of green ideals. It will be organising meetings with the representatives of the various political parties and seek inclusion of ecological considerations in the election manifestoes. 4. Transformation of leisure use patterns- Labour League Foundations wishes to realise the millennium development goals for eliminating the unsustainable consumption patterns and it wishes to do so through suggesting transformation of the leisure use pattern. It wishes to do so through suggesting adoption of faith based measures that are common across the religious texts. As indicated through the diagrammatic representation of the impact of adoption of faith based measures, it wishes to generate interfaith consensus for acting simultaneously for transforming the leisure use patterns. 5. Calculation of ecological footprints, eliminating ecological rucksacks- Labour League Foundation wishes to disseminate the practice of measuring ecological footprints for getting the desired actions for reducing the number of decisions involving emission of green house gases. 6. Ecological Audit of the consumption patterns- The ecological audit is a concept proposed by the chairman of Labour League Foundation and it will be used along with
  13. 13. the calculation of ecological footprints for assessing the impact of various decision, consumption and production patterns. 7. Ecological Audit of the production patterns- Production processes need to be assessed for sustainability. There are ecologically sustainable and unsustainable production processes. The workshops with corporations interested in realising the millennium development goals will be conducted for getting in the changes in production processes. 8. Ecological Audit of the transport patterns- Renewable resource based transport systems are sustainable and non-renewable resource based transport systems are not sustainable. Ecological Audit of the transport systems will be done with ministries dealing with transport. 9. Ecological Audit of the leisure use patterns- There are leisure use patterns that does not use green house gas producing fossil fuels and there are leisure use pattern that are based on renewable resources and that does not involve consumption of fossil fuels. Workshop with the neighbourhood discussion leaders and resident welfare associations will be conducted for necessary transformation of leisure use patterns. Children, youths and elders will be encouraged to adopt faith based measures for relaxation and stress busting. 10. Interfaith dialogue for addressing the climate change, farmer’s suicides, and social security for workers in unorganized sector, transforming finance sector- Appreciation of the common commands for prayer, donation, compassion, charity and prohibition of usury, adultery, and homosexuality is needed with wider dissemination of the same. Adoption of these commands addresses the challenge of climate change, ecologically hostile usurious system; Inter-faith dialogue will ensure generation of responses across the faith groups. Delhi has a vibrant culture of interfaith dialogue. Sant Rajinder Singh of Sawan Kripal Ashram has been conducting the same for many years. Labour League Foundation independently or in collaboration of Sawan Kirpal Ruhani Mission will work for generating more forums of interfaith dialogue. 11. National Convention on Inter Faith common responses for addressing the climate change- A national convention will be organised for generating consensus for adoption of faith based measures for addressing the climate change. There are cultural responses for fighting the atheistic neo-liberal cultural trends emanating from Europe and copied by youth in the name of globalisation and modernity. National Convention will address the issue of climate change through adopting the interfaith commons while maintaining in some forms of dietary, sartorial, linguistic, religious diversity. 12. Youth colloquiums ( Majlis-e-Naujawan)for contributing in the mitigation of the impacts of climate change- LLF recognises the critical role of youths as an organisation led by youths. Green youth forums will be formed and discussions will be held for getting the desired response pattern for halting the expansion of unsustainable consumption pattern and leisure use pattern through adoption of faith based measures. Imagining the responses of the weaker species in the face of man made onslaughts on the non-renewable resources Following drawing entitled “unseen forces” represents the anguish of the billions of poor who are angry, dispossessed and seeking an end to the process of non-renewable resource based usurious finance fuelled expansion of consumption and production pattern that is causing serious loss of livelihood for millions across the Earth. India in following the model of austere men and women can become a leader along with Muslims, Greens and men and women of the world who wish to halt the
  14. 14. political expansion of the atheistic neo-liberal ideology that is responsible for exacerbating the ecological distress and suffering for millions.

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The paper with description of the climate change, approaches for addressing it, hurdles in the way for needful changes in policy presents importance of interfaith commons as the grounds on which a comprehensive strategy needs to be built. This paper should be read by all seeking an answer to the kinds of changes required for addressing the critical challenge.


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