Read Founder’s Note 2020.
Dear Fellow Inhabitants of Earth,
It is the 5th of May 2021, ONE year since ENACT came into being. ENACT is proud of its growth. It was initially conceptualised to merely be an online platform, but with the support of many well wishers ENACT is now going to be an organisation soon. But, sadly, the situation has not changed at all. Lockdown across many states and India is struggling to breath. The second wave of COVID is something we were absolutely not prepared for. Our fight against COVID-19 brought to light the unjust system that we are a part of. The health system is crumbling down right in front of our eyes and most of us cannot possibly get rid of the sense of helplessness fighting something that is invisible to us. We can only see human suffering. Same is the case with Climate Change. We cannot see the cause but we can definitely see the impact of climate change all over the world, and India is no exception. There is no bright side to this. The poor have paid, are paying and will pay the cost! There are three important lessons we need to learn from COVID for our fight against Climate Change. I have written a very generic note without getting to the specifics.
1. EARLY AND DECISIVE ACTION WILL SAVE LIVES
In my last note, I did mention how India fared well and controlled the spread of COVID and managed to perform better than many other countries. That was one of the best examples of early and decisive action. Same is the case with Climate Change. We need to take action not by 2050 or 2030, we need to do it NOW!
2. DON’T LET YOUR GUARD DOWN
Unfortunately, what we also did was to celebrate our success too early and let our guard down. This equally applies Climate Change. We would have seen many publicly claiming that the air quality has increased due to lockdown and reduction of economic activity also meant reduction in emissions. This mostly reflects the wrong understanding about climate change. CO2 stays in the atmosphere for a very long period, as much as 100 years! There might have been a reduction in the yearly increase in concentration, but this cannot absolutely act as a substitute for the work on our Earth’s Climate! Believing and celebrating these temporary improvements and pausing climate action is a step in the wrong direction.
3. EXISTING INEQUITY ACTS AS THREAT MULTIPLIER
There is no level playing field for countries. Developed countries are hoarding vaccines which could potentially save millions of lives in the developing and underdeveloped countries. COVID and Climate Change are global problems that need a global response. It is the developing and underdeveloped countries that face the highest threat due to climate change. Cooperation between developed, developing and underdeveloped countries is very essential and must be considered a top priority. This will ensure that no one is left behind!
OUR LEARNINGS FROM LAST YEAR
To create awareness is one thing, but for it to get converted to action in some form is another thing altogether. There are many who are aware about the disastrous impacts of Climate Change but action from many such individuals does not really happen, Why?! It is because awareness in such cases talks about impacts in the distant future or in a place distant from where that particular individual lives. This is why ENACT will now work on ‘ACTIONABLE AWARENESS’. This basically means to work towards creating awareness in such a manner that will bring about behavioural change in a person and leads to action in some form. The aim is to help people recognise, acknowledge, respond and most importantly internalise the impacts of Climate Change . This is in alignment with ENACT’s vision to create a Climate Literate Society. Increased literacy leading to Increased Action.
What is ENACT going to work on as a priority this year?
We have the following two initiatives that will kick off in the coming months.
SIMPLIFYING CLIMATE SCIENCE
Quite a few conversations have helped me realise how important it is for us to understand the science behind climate change. Science is unlikely to speak for itself. Reports are written in a scientific language that aims to deliver precise scientific information, and that which minimises misinterpretation and inappropriate use of key findings. However, this also means that readers will need to have a level of scientific literacy to be able to interpret the reports effectively. The more inaccessible and unclear the information, the greater the suspicion that surrounds it. This has created fear and helpless inaction in the public. There is an urgent need to actively engage the public in scientific dialogues in order to increase trust in science, knowledge sharing, and learning that can lead to Climate Action.
LAW TO THE RESCUE: ENABLING LAWYERS FOR CLIMATE ACTION
Every time I mention that I’m pursuing my PhD and working on Climate Change, the first assumption people make is that it’s related to Environmental Laws. But, I work on Corporate Laws. To debunk the notion that climate change requires only those who have knowledge of Environmental laws working towards issues is very much needed. The Climate Crisis is as much a social and economic issue as it is environmental. This initiative is inspired by Lawyers for Climate Action New Zealand and Lawyers for Climate Action Scotland.
The idea is to invite law students, academicians and Lawyers to help create solutions to tackle the climate crisis while highly encouraging them to use their area of specialisation to come up with creative solutions. India in the legal context is lacking when it concerns Climate Change. We do not have any comprehensive law that deals with mitigation or adaptation to Climate Change. It should not mean we have no recourse under law to tackle the crisis. We need to enable, train and mobilise lawyers to make the not so evident but very important connections between various laws and Climate Change. This is also with the aim to work towards securing Climate Justice, responding to the Climate emergency, and ensure that rule of law promotes a habitable planet.
More information on these initiatives will be shared soon. There are many more exciting things happening in the background. Something with Climate Change and Music?? Who knows! Stay Tuned!
VALUE FOR THE YEAR: PERSEVERANCE
Despite the odds and difficulty, ENACT wishes to PERSEVERE and become an open and inclusive space which hosts and creates a community of all those people who intend to create awareness about climate change in their own creative ways. We will ensure that there are continued efforts to create awareness about climate change within our current capacities.
Why do I continue to stay hopeful?
I recently came across a story, a moral of which I will never forget.
Two monks were washing their bowls in the river when they noticed a scorpion that was drowning. One monk immediately scooped it up and set it upon the bank. In the process he was stung.
He went back to washing the bowl when he noticed the scorpion fall into the water again. The monk once again saved the scorpion and was stung again.
The other monk asked him, “My dear friend, why do you continue to save the scorpion when you know its nature is to sting.”
“Because,” the monk replied, “to save it is my nature.”
To save is an inherent nature to Humans. As humans we are all wired to be compassionate and to serve, but we have been educated for greed. It is when we face these existential threats, we are first human beings before anything else. The work of all the frontline workers during the pandemic truly reflects this value; the value of service even at the risk of one’s own life is what it means. Climate Action requires us to take radical steps not just for our own well being, but for all living beings and the planet itself. Humanity has always become stronger and more resilient after an existential crisis. I believe that we can overcome the current crisis and build back better with increased resilience.
If you wish to join us on this journey, please write to us on [email protected] Let us recreate, together, a better, brighter future not just for us but for the entire planet.
Hemavathi S Shekhar