Climate Revolution



Position statements of Climate Revolution Initiative and the underlying facts and assumptions.

#1. State of Climate

We are quickly edging forward on the precipice of a cliff ready to fall towards a climate catastrophe unimagined today. Only through a planet wide emergency response, beginning immediately, can we hope to prevent it.

    Underlying facts and assumptions

    a. World close to triggering runaway climate change Expand this

    Shows earth with arms extended about to fall through a waterfall Scientists have identified tipping points in the climate system that can set-off abrupt or runaway climate change. Runaway climate change refers to climate events that trigger one another and become impossible to control once set in motion much like tiles in a domino effect. Physicist Stephen Hawking has said that in worst case scenario eventually atmosphere on Earth "might end up like Venus, at 250 degrees centigrade and raining Sulphuric acid."

    Possible sequence of events in runaway climate change could be: continued release of GHG emissions due to human activities leading to warming of the poles leading to complete melting of arctic sea ice which in turn reduces reflectivity of sunlight in the region in turn warming the oceans even more leading to release of larger amounts of methane in arctic permafrost which further warms the atmosphere leading to melting of Greenland raising sea-levels by seven meters and drying up of Amazon rainforest which catches fire and releases massive amounts of CO2, further intensifying warming and so on.

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    b. Tipping points are already beginning to be triggered Expand this

    Three of the tipping points identified by scientists include the loss of Arctic sea ice, Amazon rainforest dieback and loss of arctic permafrost. Scientific evidence suggests that each one of these is stressed to a very high degree. In 2007 the Arctic sea ice declined by a record extent, 22% lower than the previous record low observed in 2005. This is about 70-80 years ahead of IPCC projections.

    For the past three years, parts of the Amazon basin have been experiencing sustained drought - one of its worst over the last 100 years threatening release of up to 95 gigatonnes of CO2 if it catches fire.

    Another large carbon sink threatened is the Arctic permafrost that contains 1.5 trillion tonnes of carbon along with boreal regions according to one estimate. Reports from the Arctic reveal that "massive deposits of subsea methane are bubbling to the surface." Methane is now considered to be 30 times worse than carbon dioxide in its global warming potential.

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    c. Implications of runaway climate change include death of billions Expand this

    Projections by UK Met office conclude that if emission continue to rise and some of the positive feedbacks are triggered, world will warm by 4°C by 2060 itself, not 2100 as projected by IPCC. Kevin Anderson, head of the Tyndall centre of climate research, recently stated that a 4°C world would sustain population no more than half a billion people at most.

    As world population is projected to rise to around 9 billion by 2050, it implies that 4°C warming would lead to death of more people than there are on the planet at present. Other noted scientists have also warned of a 4°C world which they say could lead to mass migration of entire nations towards colder regions.

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    d. Present level of greenhouse gas concentration is sufficient to trigger tipping points Expand this

    Recent research show that when GHG emissions stop completely, temperatures will not fall down but continue rising steadily or plateau at best. This implies that even if all emissions ended today, there will still remain a high probability of runaway climate change as the sea ice in Arctic, which is witnessing 4°C of warming above pre-industrial levels today, will continue to melt, the permafrost continue to thaw and Amazon rainforest continue to be threatened.

    Other scientists go even further. Ramanathan and Feng, for example, state that even if greenhouse gas (GHG) concentration is stablised at 2005 level, it already commits us to warming of 2.4°C and perhaps as high as 4.3°C. NASA's top climate scientist James Hansen also argues that we have gone well past what can be considered as the safe limit of CO2 concentration in the atmosphere.

    This implies that not only do we need to bring all emissions to a halt as soon as possible, we would also need to suck carbon out of the atmosphere. Ending all GHG emissions requires a planetary emergency response in phasing out fossil fuels and other emission sources as well as putting up infrastructure for installation of air capture towers to suck carbon out of atmosphere.

    Yet, the world has pinned all its hope on emission reduction targets at international negotiations when it is evident that such targets have little meaning in light of above even if they are achieved. "The ultimate goal of climate protection policy, as stipulated by the UNFCCC, appears to be a delusion" noted Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, chief climate advisor to the German government, the G8 presidency and the EU presidency, in a paper citing Ramanathan and Feng.

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    e. Greenhouse gas concentration must be reduced at a rapid pace to avoid triggering runaway climate changeExpand this

    According to the IPCC AR4, emissions must peak by 2015 to avoid dangerous climate change. However, in their worst case scenario, temperature rise still shoots up to 2.4°C. While that may appear alarming, the latest scientific evidence show that IPCC projections tend to be highly conservative and they discount uncertainty regarding climate sensitivity.

    As noted above, NASA scientist Hansen suggests we have already passed the dangerous limit of CO2 in the atmosphere. Thus, we may not have any time at all. What makes this scenario worse is that the gap between where we need to go in terms of emission reductions and where we are headed in business as usual is so wide that barring an unprecedented global response to reduce world emissions dramatically beginning immediately -- there's not much hope that we will be able to get there.

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#2. International Response

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) cannot possibly address climate crisis adequately in time. Copenhagen was a failure and so would be Mexico.

    Underlying facts and assumptions

    a. The Copenhagen accord led by United States is meaningless Expand this

    Shows Uncle Sam offering a sword for the falling earth to grab Described as 'historic' by US president Barrack Obama, the Copenhagen accord reached in December 2009 is completely devoid of any significance as it includes no short-term or long-term emission reduction targets; no deadline for emissions to peak; no legally binding mandate for developed countries to reduce emissions; no legally binding mandate for developing countries to reduce emissions; and no agreement on whether to extend Kyoto Protocol or end it and agree to a new treaty.

    It includes fairly little new finance and no agreement on how the bill will be split between countries; no clarity on where the finance will come from and how will it be distributed; and no agreement on how to scale it up.

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    b. Run by a jury of the accused Expand this

    UNFCCC was formed on the belief that member nations would willingly accede to emission reduction controls with consensus on presentation of scientific evidence. Neither the UNFCCC treaty not its secretariat has any enforcement mechanism to mandate unwilling countries to accede to what is demanded by accumulated scientific evidence.

    The negotiation process at Copenhagen, for example, could be compared to a court forming a jury of criminals, past, present and future (along with their victims), and asking them to decide among themselves the punishment that should be meted out to them. What transpired next has been called the greatest coup in the history of UNFCCC.

    The biggest criminals in the jury carry out secret closed-door meetings and unilaterally declare they have reached an agreement that punishes no one. They then bribe and bully the victims and everyone else to agree to their verdict. Only a handful, courageous victims dare to speak out against these tactics while most others happily accept the payout.

    By its very design, UNFCCC's consensus driven process is fundamentally unsuitable for contentious issue like this and is wedded to failure from the start. There is absolutely no possibility that under the present political, social and economic climate United States, China and India would voluntarily accede to emission cuts as required by science -- viewed by them as politically unfeasible rather than a necessity for survival.

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    c. Aiming for the wrong targets Expand this

    The laws of science that are driving climate change are non violable. Long-term cooperative action therefore must aim at ensuring zero probability of dangerous climate change irrespective of political feasibility because while changing politics is possible, changing the laws of physics and chemistry is not. Aiming for any outcome other than zero probability of dangerous climate change is morally and ethically bankrupt as it makes irreversible climate change a possibility.

    Yet, environmental groups religiously following UNFCCC negotiations and lobbying for emission reduction targets of 25-40% by 2020 for Annex1 nations, have not done the math -- calculations needed to determine time bound targets that will guarantee a safe climate. Their targets are based on IPCC projections that aim for 450ppm as CO2 stablisation target when new research shows the safe limit may be between 300-325ppm and certainly not more than 350ppm.

    IPCC projections also disregard uncertainty regarding climate sensitivity. The footnote to those projections state that IPCC assumption regarding climate sensitivity is a "best estimate". If we account for uncertainty and assume higher climate sensitivity, then the same 25-40/2020 target produces near certainty (up to 78% probability) of crossing 2°C as opposed to a 50% probability under IPCC assumptions, currently being pursued by environmental groups.

    Any group or individual pushing for these targets must explain to the rest of the world why is a 50% chance of preventing dangerous climate change desirable or even acceptable. None of these people would get on a plane with a 50% chance of crashing. How can they collectively determine that 50% chance of saving human civilisation is good enough without first asking the people of this world whether that is the risk they are willing to take?

    25-40% reductions by 2020 is a dastardly goal which reeks of acquiescing half-heartedly to what is referred as "political reality." Anyone submitting to the present level of political will should have no business setting the climate protection boundary.

    Even the goal of limiting temperature rise within 2°C by itself has been questioned. In his testimony to U.S. congress in July 2008, NASA's top climate scientist James Hansen calls it "a recipe for global disaster, not salvation." First conceived in the 90's by the European Union, the goal should have been long obsolete as climate science has progressed miles ahead since then. The IPCC, which is bound not to be policy prescriptive, does not explicitly recommend keeping temperature rise within 2°C and admits that it could still mean up to 2 billion people facing water shortages and extinction for up to 30% of the world's species.

    Another reason the targets pursued at UNFCCC are unreliable is because all scientific evidence and research published since the release of IPCC AR4, the basis for these targets, reveal that IPCC projections are highly conservative. In paper after paper IPCC comes out to be behind. Yet international negotiations continue to be based on science that is obsolete.

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    d. Poor past performance Expand this

    While negotiating an agreement that must be put into force immediately and one that must succeed no matter what, is it prudent to trust an institution whose past is marked with delays and failure? Especially when cost of failure is so high?

    The UNFCCC process is often criticised as crippled with bureaucracy. It took five years of arduous talks to form Kyoto Protocol. Adopted in late 1997, it then took another seven years of talk to put it into action. Set to expire in 2012, the Kyoto Protocol was given 15 long years to achieve a paltry 5% reduction in emissions.

    Yet, world emissions grew 29% between 2000 and 2008 alone, tripling the rate of growth in 1990's. After the failure of Copenhagen, environmentalists are now pinning hopes on Mexico, expecting world countries to agree to reducing emissions about ten times as much as Kyoto in less than half as much time (2012-2020).

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    e. No enforcement. No paln B. Expand this

    The probability of developed and developing countries mending their differences and agreeing to drastic emissions reductions in Mexico later this year after fighting for two decades, is fairly remote. But even if one assumes that they do claim to arrive at such an agreement, there would be good reason to remain sceptical.

    For one, there are loopholes built into national proposals submitted to the twin UNFCCC tracks of Kyoto Protocol and Long-term Cooperative Action. Loopholes like offsets, creative accounting and emissions that are not accounted for; allow for member countries an easy escape route to continue emitting.

    Secondly, Cap and Trade, the implementation mechanism for emission reductions, has been fraught with its own complexities, corruption and fraud even at the relatively small scale it has been implemented during Kyoto Protocol. Now when emission reductions must be scaled up several fold, negotiators are relying on the same failed mechanisms.

    Thirdly, there is as yet no full-proof international mechanism for guaranteeing compliance from member states. Nothing would prevent the United States or China to forgo the commitments they make. No one will stop trade with the US or China, for example, if they didn't follow through their promises.

    A case in point is the failure of fiscal regulation measures introduced by the European Union. Articles 99 and 104 of the EU treaty led to the 'Stability and Growth Pact', an agreement by EU member states that is meant to ensure that their fiscal deficit does not cross 3%.

    However, despite provision for multiple warnings and sanctions against offending member states, the agreement failed to apply sanctions against big states like France and Germany when their fiscal deficits shot up. The recent disclosure by Greece that its fiscal deterioration increased to four times the EU limit and that the figure it had been reporting previously was the result of "creative accounting", is yet another example that guaranteeing compliance of an international treaty when the member country is determined to break it, is nearly impossible.

    Finally, UNFCCC does not have a plan B and one could well argue that by the time it establishes that the present agreement is not working, there would be no time for a plan B. The tipping points of runaway climate change would have been triggered and there would be fairly little that would be possible at that stage to save humanity.

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#3. Indian Response

The Indian government remains ignorant and in denial of climate science while being steadfastly committed to multiplying emissions domestically and thwarting an ambitious deal internationally.

    Underlying facts and assumptions

    a. A government in denial of climate science threatens its citizens' right to live Expand this

    In light of the clear and present danger of triggering runaway climate change, it is evident that continued emission growth is not an option. Yet, government's policies do not admit to this irrefutable scientific fact. India's emissions are variously estimated to grow three to five fold or more by 2030. Over the next few decades, 75% of growth in world emissions will come from what are traditionally called "developing" countries like India and China as we continue along the business as usual pathway.

    The government's no-compromise economic growth policy favors trade and industry and is against the interests of over 1 billion plus ordinary citizens. It risks their lives from the effects of climate change in the short term and eventually committing them to runaway climate change. Every citizen of this nation has a right to challenge policies that have grave implications for their future and as such threaten their right to live.

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    b. A government in denial of the shift in developmental paradigm commits to rapid emission growth Expand this

    The 2007 Fourth Assessment Report of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC AR4), the overwhelming scientific evidence in support of changes in earth's climate currently being witnessed world over and the widespread acceptance that the model of economic development followed since the industrial revolution can no longer be sustained is leading to rethinking of the definition of development world over.

    Much of the so-called "developed" world is gradually coming around to accept that deep and wide emission cuts are inevitable. That sustainable development is not some special kind of development the rich indulge in to keep the "green brigade happy" but that it is the only kind of development that makes sense going forward.

    There's no acknowledgement of such a paradigm shift in India. And even no discourse on whether it makes any sense for us to play catch-up with the "developed" nations on per capita emissions and then reduce when those nations are already preparing to catch-up (catch-down?) to our levels of consumption.

    We remain stuck in the obsolete paradigm where development means an ever-increasing-fossil-fuel-consumption-driven -uncompromising-GDP-growth-centric-economy at the expense of the lives of present and future citizens of this country.

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    c. A government in denial of resource depletion invites complete collapse Expand this

    Oil, coal, natural gas and other fossil fuel and mineral sources are in finite quantity in the earth's crust. India's economy, however, and most of the rest of the world, is predicated on the notion of continued economic growth and therefore continued exploitation of natural resources -- a physical impossibility in a world with finite resources.

    Over 70% of India's oil demand, for example, is met through imports. As our economy grows over the next two decades and as does China's, this demand is set to increase manifold. But is there enough oil in oil reserves to feed this growing appetite? This question led the International Energy Agency (IEA) to conduct a comprehensive survey of all of its 800+ oil fields around the world in 2008.

    In December that year, while releasing results of its study the IEA admitted for the first time of the existence of peak oil and issued a stunning conclusion: "even if world oil demand stablises at current level, the world would require four Saudi Arabia by 2030 just to offset the oil field decline."

    But the demand is not stablising. It is multiplying. The Integrated Energy Policy adopted by the government of India projects a three-fold increase in oil demand by 2032 over 2007 level. Yet, the government's policies assume endless oil availability. There are no preparedness plans and not even a recognition that peak oil is a problem.

    As oil touches all aspects of a nation's earnings -- trade, industry, transportation, agriculture, infrastructure etc -- a major collapse is inevitable if we do not transition our economy to alternative sources of energy. A U.S Department of Energy report on peak oil concluded that it would require the world two decades of preparation in advance of peaking of oil to assure a safe transition. It warned that without timely mitigation, the economic, social, and political costs will be unprecedented.

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    d. Equity alone cannot be the defining criteria behind India's response Expand this

    India has long pointed fingers towards the West arguing that they have historical responsibility and must assume leadership in reducing emissions. The West however refuses to take serious action unless India and China share part of the responsibility as well. From the perspective of mitigation of climate change, the widespread belief in India's political circles that equity is in our self-interest in entirely mistaken.

    An ideal way to determine our policy response to deal with the climate crisis would have been an honest and thorough examination of costs and benefits associated with every policy alternative available to us. We deploy an army of intelligence agencies with thousands of employees on terrorism monitoring yet we don't examine risks associated with our climate policy that pose a danger several orders of magnitude greater.

    There is little discussion on the available possible policy alternatives, least of all on a thorough examination of their costs and benefits. The stubborn refusal of our policymakers to even look at or examine any other policy response has led them to prioritise short-term gain at the cost of long-term risk.

    There is no denying that historical emissions and per-capita approach (adjusted for rate of population growth) would provide for the most equitable mechanism under which the share of emission reductions are determined. However, it is self-interest not equity that should guide India's response. If our call for equity is resulting in a deadlock and inaction then equity is clearly not in our self-interest because ultimately we want global action on climate change.

    The risk from runaway climate change is several times greater than the gains through unlimited economic growth, even assuming that such a policy can be sustained over the long term. Quite clearly, any cost-benefit analysis of India's policy supports action on climate mitigation. Unfortunately, by prioritising the short-term gains to the economy and putting mitigation to the backburner, our policymakers are ignoring the prohibitive cost of inaction.

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    e. Poverty as an excuse to multiply emissions cannot be justified Expand this

    There is yet another belief fundamental to India's policy response (or lack of it) to the climate crisis -- India cannot curb emissions as it needs to feed the poor and allow them the room to grow. For one, if India adopts a low-carbon growth pathway the poor will be just as happy. They do not care that the electricity they get comes from burning of fossil fuels or by harnessing wind power, for example, as long as they get the electricity when they need it.

    Secondly, it is assumed that welfare of the poor is directly linked to economic growth but there's no evidence of a direct relationship between economic growth and standard of living in India. Residents of Mumbai, for example -- have a life expectancy of seven years less than the national average despite the city being the country's economic hub. There are no reliable figures available on poverty alleviation achieved since India began the liberalisation process about two decades ago.

    At best, economic growth is a highly inefficient method of eradicating poverty. Another popular assumption is that both poverty alleviation and emission reduction cannot be addressed at the same time. This is just as untrue. There exist mechanisms that can make a serious dent in the country's emission growth as well as alleviating poverty at the same time. One of them is a revenue neutral carbon tax. Expectedly, the government has no plans regarding this.

    Finally, India's poverty is actually the reason we should be aggressive in pursuing mitigation of climate change as studies show that the poor of the developing world will be worse affected by its effects in the short term. We have more to lose than any other country with increasing frequency of cyclones, sea level rise, unpredictable weather fluctuations, disruption of rainfall patterns and higher incidence of diseases. Our policies do not reflect that we realise this.

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    f. Emission intensity cuts are a sham as they require no new action! Expand this

    In December 2009, in the run-up to Copenhagen climate conference, the government of India announced cuts in emission intensity ranging from 20-25% by 2020. A closer examination, reveals that these cuts are based on no-mitigation scenario, i.e, emission intensity would reduce by itself without any new action by the government.

    As old power plants, industrial machinery, equipment and appliances give way to more efficient power plants, industrial machinery, equipment and appliances over the natural course of time, energy intensity of the nation would come down on its own in due course of time. This reduction in emission intensity is contained in a report on emission pathway projections released by Ministry of Environment & Forests itself back in September that year.

    Therefore, the so-called "cuts" in energy intensity announced by the government with much fanfare are nothing but an elaborate sham and a clever PR campaign to take pressure off India to make real reduction in emissions. Unfortunately, no civil society organisation or media report was able to identify this clever trick of the government.

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    g. Government party to Copenhagen Crimes Expand this

    At the Copenhagen climate conference, India is widely known to have teamed up with China and other developing countries in exclusive closed-door talks with the United States. The meetings resulted in the so-called Copenhagen Accord -- a document so watered down and meaningless that it is not worth the paper it is written upon.

    The accord drafted by India, China under the leadership of United States contains no emission reduction targets for any of these countries. It contains provision for declaration of voluntary pledges to reduce emissions. According to scientific assessments, the emission reduction pledges submitted by UNFCCC member states so far would lead to 6°C warming by end of the century.

    The Government of India has consistently refused to take a lead in emission reductions citing historical responsibility of the developed world but when it comes to getting the developed countries to sign on emission reductions, it conveniently ignores the threat to its citizens and works hand in hand with them to water down a potentially strong international deal.

    History would not judge this massive compromise of the interests of citizens of this country and those of the world kindly. India is party to what could best be described as 'Copenhagen Crimes' -- predetermined and organised efforts to thrwart an ambitious international agreement on climate change.

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#4. Civil Society Response

Civil society institutions have been unsuccessful in bringing about an adequate political response. Focussing on governments while neglecting popular public opinion and lack of public commitment has been a critical failing.

    Underlying facts and assumptions

    a. Failed to secure emission reduction commitments Expand this

    The Copenhagen accord is a testament to civil society's abject failure in influencing the international climate negotiation process. All the public demonstrations, rallies, global people formations, research reports and collective outcry of civil society institutions for change leading up to the Copenhagen conference and during the event ended up being completely inconsequential.

    Physically shut out from the main event during its crucial second half, the organisations and individual demonstrators gathered at Copenhagen not only failed at exerting pressure on the deliberations towards securing emission reduction commitments, but their impact was so negligible that no notable leader even stopped to acknowledge them in their speeches.

    The developed nations led by United States and developing countries led by India and China were absolutely determined not to concede legally binding emission reduction commitments. So, when an ineffective civil society lobby met with a resolute opposition in the political leadership, there was no other outcome likely except dilution of the targets sought.

    Hyped as a do or die event before it started, the Copenhagen climate conference eventually ended any hope that civil society has any influence over the international climate negotiation platform where binding commitments were being desperately fought off.

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    b. Failure demonstrates need for a new strategy Expand this

    The institutions working in the area of climate change mitigation come from varying backgrounds and are vastly fragmented. Despite the common goal of effective political action on mitigation of dangerous climate change, there is no agreement on the means, tools and strategies needed to achieve it. Protests seem to exist for the sake of protests with little regard to consequence.

    New plans and projects are announced with conscious knowledge that even when successful, they would at best lead to incremental change and at worse be completely inconsequential while the science is abundantly clear that we need big changes. Yet, there is no evidence of self-examination and call for change within the civil society itself. After the Copenhagen debacle, most organisations have continued functioning with business as usual.

    It is evident that no common strategy exists or if one has existed in the past, its utter failure shows that it needs to change. If a civil society institution working in the area of climate change succeeds in winning a landmark battle tomorrow it will be through a strategy vastly different from all the others employed in the past.

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    c. No influence on popular public opinion Expand this

    Climate change can also be seen as a failure of public to perceive the true scientific and political context and implications of various developments; and, the failure to communicate the same to the public on the part of civil society, media, scientific community and governments.

    Although civil society should ideally represent the common man, opinion polls show that popular public opinion on climate change internationally has ranged from doubt to scepticism while interest in strong political action has been continuously on the decline.

    In India, while there is public consensus, at least amongst the educated class, of climate change as a looming threat; however, its extent, severity, the scale of change required and what exactly constitutes that change -- such issues and many others surrounding it are poorly understood.

    At Climate Revolution Initiative, it is our strong belief that no large political change or climate policy reform is possible unless the governments perceive that significant majority of the population demands that change. Merely asking the government, protesting against their policies or talking to them at the table will not yield results unless there is widespread public support and demand for change.

    Thus in our view, by focussing solely on the governments, the civil society has been barking up the wrong tree. This is true internationally and for India as well. Civil society has failed to identify and address the most critical qualification for large scale change -- public support for it.

    While there are several organisations working at the grassroots, their impact on the masses is questionable due to their limited reach and capacity. Their message might reach thousands or tens of thousands on occasion but how well their audience understands the issue in all its facets is unclear. Complexity inherent in the issue of climate change requires a communication approach that is rich in compelling content, personalised to a specific context, presented in a usable manner and delivered to a wide audience.

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    d. Perceived as extreme and isolated in policy circles Expand this

    Although climate activism is a vast field and there are several new players, traditional environmental organisations internationally and in India continue to dominate the composition of civil society institutions active in this field. There are several ways to categorise environmental organisations but some of the key defining characteristics are a) grassroots driven, b) action oriented and c) judiciary focussed; with a significant overlap between these roles at times.

    The events most often highlighted in the mainstream media are those led by action oriented and judiciary focussed organisations. In these reports environmentalists are often seen atop buildings or bridges unfurling large banners, going on hunger strikes or fighting court battles against "developmental" projects like large dams, for example, that have positive associations in the public mind. Since photo captions and news reports generally do not, and due to limitations of the medium cannot, elaborate the complex background and context behind the story, this inadvertently leads to vague associations of "crazy environmentalists" or "obstructionist people" in the reader's mind.

    Thus, despite the excellent work done under enormous constraints, environmentalism in popular culture, and particularly in policy and judicial circles, has unfortunately come to mean extreme, isolated, single dimensioned and unbalanced approach often perceived as obstructionism to the developmental paradigm, as the latter is traditionally defined. The environmentalist's view is seen as one that does not represent the mainstream and that must be counter-balanced with other approaches, priorities, realities and "greater common good."

    Clearly environmentalists have done a poor job of making themselves understood. No strategy is apparent on part of the civil society to counter this popular but deeply flawed understanding of their role in the public consciousness.

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    e. Out of touch and ill-equipped to handle scale of the challenge Expand this

    Yet another lesson from Copenhagen is that civil society seem to have underestimated the resistance they would face from governments. It was perhaps unclear to them that governments have interests so deeply entrenched in the status quo that no amount of worldwide human formations and climbing of parliaments will lead them to change.

    Evidently, traditional environmental organisations, particularly the grassroots and action oriented ones, lack any understanding and experience of institutionalising large scale change. None of their past experience has prepared them to tackle what confronts them today.

    Most of the strategies, rather tactics, pursued by civil society in the area of climate change revolve around shock and awe, tokenism, incrementalism and symbolism - completely inconsequential and bereft of any lasting meaning.

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