Thursday, October 15, 2009
Transportation woes no more?
Living in India, as I do, climate change is a politically charged subject. The position of my country is clear – we were not responsible for creating this mess, you were. So do not now turn around and tell me not to add to the mess, because I will do so unless you either compensate me for the mess you have created, or you enable me to get to where I want to get without the attendant mess.
Fundamentally, I do not disapprove of the stand. Some nations have got to a point where they can afford greener technology by largely ignoring the environmental impact of their actions. They do, now, have a moral obligation to help other nations get to that point too. But for nations like mine to downplay their responsibility is downright shortsighted.
Just because some nations have taken a particular (environmentally destructive) route to development doesn’t mean there is no other. Two decades back, it was the aspiration of every middle class Indian to own a family car. Today, income levels have gone up to an extent where the same individuals have a car each- and no roads to drive them in.
As a nation, we should be looking at improving public transportation, so people are encouraged to keep their cars at home. Instead, we create the world’s cheapest car, so more people can afford to purchase four wheels and an exhaust pipe that further adds to the carbon emission levels.
Pedestrian walkways, an integrated transportation system, telecommuting, shifting business districts to reduce travel time. You don’t have to be an urban planner to know the solution to the woes that assail the larger Indian cities. Implementing them would require political will, but would also substantially improve the quality of life of every citizen of urban India. And reduce carbon emission in the bargain.
Wouldn’t it be more productive for the Powers that Are to start working on some of these issues, rather than just haranguing the ‘richer’ nations to pay a debt which they barely acknowledge?