The protest marchers at Copenhagen over the weekend were from a variety of groups and supported a variety of causes, ranging from climate change to anti-capitalism, anti-nuclear and anti-American protesters, but they did have some things in common — most were young, and a vast majority were European.
However, there were at least 200 Indian protesters on the streets as well. “There are youth here. There are nomads, pasturalists, fisherfolk, dry land farmers and hill tribes,” said Ramesh Sharma of Ekta Parishad, a land rights movement mostly focussed in central and northern India. “This is a symbolic action. In there,” he said, gesturing vaguely behind him at the conference centre, “In there, everything is behind the curtains, inside the rooms... Out here, there is more energy, the people are speaking out. It's not just a road show.”
“We fight for the rights of pastoral people in Gujarat,” said Geeta Desai, an activist with an NGO named Marag. “It is our land that is being spoilt, so there is not enough fodder... Our message is that you don't have any right to spoil our natural resources,” she said.
“It's not enough to raise our voices against the developed countries alone. What are we doing within our own country?” asked Mr. Sharma. “It's internal colonialism. Our companies are spoiling the land of the people.”
Renewable energy initiative
Meanwhile, India and other countries of the major Economies Forum including Italy, Australia and the United States have announced a new renewable energy initiative. Renewables and Efficiency Deployment Initiative (Climate REDI). The total funding for Climate REDI will be $350 million over the next five years, including $85 million from the U.S. The major focus will be on solar and LED systems, energy efficient appliances and scaling up renewable energy programmes in the developing world.
“India will seek assistance in this fund, but we also looking to participate ourselves,” said Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh. “Indian wind energy, solar energy companies have a great new opportunity... It's like the Indian drug companies which are so successful in Africa, there are new opportunities for Indian renewable energy companies around the world.”
He pointed out that new energy technology was the centrepiece of the strategy to fulfil India's promise of a 20 to 25 per cent reduction in emission intensity.