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Sustainable development should be part of democratic functioning

For the future of the planet, it is necessary to prominently include environment, biodiversity and sustainable development as part of democratic functioning. This aspect makes projects like ISA commendable as it can take democracies to a more environmentally sensible future

Apr 11, 2018
By Manju Theresa Mathew 
 
Democracies theoretically stand for the type of government where people exercise power compared to power concentrated in the hands of few people as in the case of monarchy. Putting this idea to work in the current global scenario, it is of utmost necessity that democracies should think about climate change from a human security perspective. 
 
The recent India-France talks led to a solar initiative between the two countries. In an era when the threat of climate change poses the most significant threat to the existence of humanity. Being two strong democracies, we should also delve deeper into the democratic and humanitarian perspectives these environment-friendly initiatives can offer. The International Solar Alliance (ISA) unveiled by former French President Francoise Hollande and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is a coalition of solar rich countries to collaborate. So far 56 states have joined the initiative. At a time when we know that fossil fuels do not provide the energy security needed for development, it is imperative that we harvest renewable and clean energy source.
 
In a completely opposite situation, the world’s largest democracy in terms of size, the United States, backed out of the Paris Climate Accord. The reason as stated by U.S president, Donald Trump was that we need to negotiate a better deal for our country and has often blamed India and China for the U.S backing out of the deal. Trump has always stood for fossil fuel industry, and hence it is no surprise that he walked away from the agreement, which aimed at limiting the global temperature rise of the century to less than 2 degrees Celsius. He argued that Paris deal would have been a disaster for the United States and taken away jobs from coal and fossil fuel industry. Well, his lack of political imagination when it comes to sustainability and a liveable environment has put the efforts of rest of the world behind and shows a tendency to support corporate profit-making even in the face of an impending large-scale environmental calamity. Trump's policies on the environment have systemically reversed the sustainability efforts by previous U.S governments and have set a new low for the United States. Not only is he backing from international initiatives he is also pushing coal industry and environmentally hazardous pipelines like DAPL (Dakota Access Pipeline) at home.
 
The efforts of most European countries and developing countries like India, to switch to renewable energy sources points to the creative incorporation of sustainable ecological ideas to democratic politics. This vision is what the current U.S government lacks. This shift to sustainability also shows a people-centered approach to development than supporting individual corporate money making policies that often disrupts environmental initiatives in the U.S. Hence, for the future of the planet, it is necessary to prominently include environment, biodiversity and sustainable development as part of democratic functioning. This aspect makes projects like ISA commendable as it can take democracies to a more environmentally sensible future.
 
(The author is a writer/researcher pursuing her Masters in Gender Studies at University of North Carolina, USA. She can be contacted at manjutheresa.mathew@gmail.com)

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