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Updated: October 15, 2009 00:55 IST

Imbibe Gandhi on climate change: Pachauri

Special Correspondent
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Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

With the December deadline for the Copenhagen COP 15 talks drawing nearer, the focus has now shifted towards “green Gandhigiri.”

Mahatma Gandhi’s writings and thoughts on environment and ecology are now extremely relevant in the context of the dangerous impact of global warming and climate change, Rajendra K. Pachauri, director-general of The Energy and Research Institute (TERI) and chairman of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), said here on Wednesday.

Showcasing ‘Mahatma Gandhi and the Environment: Analysing Gandhian Environmental Thought’ — the first of the series of publications from TERI Press that was presented to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday — Dr. Pachauri said: “It is an opportune moment for world leaders to be guided by Gandhi’s writings and thoughts for achieving a lasting solution at COP 15.”

Pointing out how Mahatma Gandhi had influenced many by his philosophy of simplicity and equality, Dr. Pachauri noted that even U.S. President Barack Obama, when asked recently with whom he would love to have dinner, remarked “Gandhiji of course.”

Referring to Gandhiji’s simple lifestyle, which is supremely relevant today, Dr. Pachauri said that “the flawed models of development” encourages migration from rural areas to the cities.

Renewable energy

Recalling Gandhiji’s words that “the earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need but not every man’s greed,” Dr. Pachauri deplored the belief that only one pattern of development was good. “This tunnel vision has to go if we are to get on to the path of sustainable development,” he stressed.

This has happened in countries like Japan, Germany and Israel that have espoused renewable energy sources such as solar power, and also in the State of California in the U.S. which offers attractive incentives to people to switch over to renewable energy sources. “The technology required to make the change is not prohibitively expensive.

TERI, for instance, is the technology partner to the Clinton Climate Initiative (CCI) which has joined hands with the governments of Gujarat and Rajasthan to develop 3,500-5,000 MW solar thermal power plants — to be set up as clusters of 100 MW each. This proves that such technologies are not only feasible, but that they already exist.”

Referring to the “subtle but often unstated views of Mahatma Gandhi in the field of human ecology,” Dr. Pachauri described the apostle of peace as “a profound environmentalist who rejected the idea of blindly following Western industrialism without regard to its attendant environmental, social, and economic problems.” Gandhiji, said Dr. Pachauri, foresaw all this and recommended protecting environment and natural resources to safeguard the future of the human race and all species on this planet.

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