17 September 2014

  What: The largest public demonstration demanding action on climate change is just 3 days away.

When: The People's Climate March will take place on the 21st of September, 2014, just two days before UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon's high profile summit on climate change for world leaders kicks off in New York.

Why: Thousands of people are expected to participate in New York, and in global events around the world, sending a strong message to world leaders, that we want climate action now!

Where: In New Delhi the march will kick off at 10am from Mandi House on Saturday at 10am. So far there are more than 2,500 events planned in 155+ countries, so there should almost definitely be an event near you. Find it here: http://peoplesclimate.org/join-an-event/#host-iframe

Is it relevant for India or for you:

YES! Even as people across the world gear up to demand a safe and sustainable future for their children and coming generations, India is grappling with floods that have 2,500 villages (in India and Pakistan) of Jammu and Kashmir. Over 80,000 people have been evacuated with rivers swollen by an erratic monsoon flowing many feet above the danger mark. Conservative figures pin the number of dead to at-least 200, and in some areas entire houses have been submerged.

Extreme events expose humans to conditions beyond the realms of what we're used to. That could be unusually high temperatures, sudden heavy downpours, or longer lasting droughts. If people and the infrastructure we rely on can't withstand these abnormal conditions, the economic and human losses can be huge, as it has been in Uttarakhand last year, and Kashmir this year.

Even the latest IPCC report published last year shows that since the 1950s there have been clear changes in many types of extreme events. Some of this is new, but some of it was summarised in a special report on extreme events the IPCC published in 2012.

We've experienced more hot days and heat waves, fewer cold nights, and an increase in the intensity and number of heavy rainfall events​.

More erratic weather events equal to more displacement of people which equals to more climate refugees. Something that a country like India, with millions of people living in poverty, cannot afford.

​India's agriculture is dependent on monsoons and an erratic rainy season has aversely effected farmers across the length and breadth of the country.​

​​Earlier monsoons would consist of days of steady, continuous, and consistent rainfall with short dry spells in between. But ​the monsoons are becoming increasingly unpredictable, arriving later than scheduled, with only a few days of very heavy rainfall and longer dry spells in between. This has negatively impacted the crop cycle and excessive flooding has led to saplings not thriving in water logged fields.

This not just affects farmers, but also price of the food we eat.

​Who else is coming:

​The People's Climate March will be the ONLY place that any conscious, concerned citizen would be at on the coming Saturday. There will also be people from various impacted communities attending. Reetu Asrani, a survivor of the J&K floods will be giving a speech, and farmers from Punjab will travel long distances to be a part of the march and speak for their rights.

People from the villages of Mahan, Madhya Pradesh, who live in and around the Mahan forests - the oldest sal forests in Asia, will also be travelling to Delhi for the March. The people of Mahan have shown exceptional fortitude in the face of big corporate interests, that want to cut down their forests, wipe out their homes and livelihoods, and dig up (only 14 years of coal) for a captive coal mine. They have formed the Mahan Sangarsh Samiti and are leading one of the most prominent grassroots movements of our times to fight for their rights.

Over 14,190 lives and livelihoods are dependent on the Mahan forests​, and those coming will represent every single voice that wants to protect their jangal and zameen.

​​People from the village of Dharnai will also be participating in the march. Dharnai is a small village in the growth-starved state of Bihar, that is leading the way to energy revolution through decentralised renewable energy. Dharnai did not have access to electricity for 30 years. This year ​Greenpeace​ installed a decentralised solar micro-grid in the village and it can now generate 100kW of electricity, enough to power 2500 people,​ 10 agricultural pumps, ​60 street lights and about 50 small businesses.

It will also draw representatives from various grassroots to international organisation working with a wide range of issues. Climate change affects everyone and human rights activist, womens' rights advocates, representatives from various informal sectors will all be there marching for a better future. India is already witnessing climate impacts, the climate has already changed and continues to change NOW. Further inaction will only assure that we pay a heavy price for an issue that we can collectively address.

What can you do:

Just show up! And bring everyone you know! Parents, friends, relatives, partners, neighbours! This will be a historic event. Hundreds and thousands of people marching to for a safer future. Be part of history, and soak in the power of our united voices and commitment.

Join Greenpeace, 350.org, Avaaz.org, Chintan/Safai Sena, Kheti Virasat Manch, Bharat Jan Vigyan Vedika, India climate justice network, Pravah, Jhatkaa, One Billion Rising network on 20th September in New Delhi to the biggest People's Climate March!

RSVP here: http://act.350.org/event/peoples_climate/7674

Pujarini Sen is a renewable energy campaigner at Greenpeace India.