Brussels : Indian parliamentarian and environmental activist, Maneka Gandhi, made a firm stance on Monday on the need to not just cut down on carbon emissions, but to “move into a world where we don’t produce carbon at all”.
In a press conference held in the European Parliament (EP) Monday afternoon preceding the presentation of the Energy Globe Awards, she said that while the word ‘environment’ has become the most fashionable term to be used by companies and advertising agencies alike, not much is being done by governments to reverse the trends, which are fast-forwarding the planet to destruction
“We are so close to the red line that we might wake up tomorrow and discover there is nothing to save” stressed Gandhi, referring to the catastrophic changes being experienced due to climate change because of the carbon footprint we’re leaving on the planet.
Chairing this year’s press meet in her capacity as chairwoman of the International Energy Globe Jury,
she noted that the European Union has been fastest off the mark in dealing with carbon emissions.
Even so, emissions have increased in 2008 as compared with 2006, noted Gandhi. And in this regard, America and Asia are doing much worse.
Mikhail Gorbachev, president of the erstwhile Soviet Union, added his strokes of gloom to this picture saying: “Wherever we look there are grounds for concern – the air, the oceans, the rivers, the forests, resources – everything is a problem. And no country can handle this problem alone. We need to pool our efforts, our resources”.
The question of promoting bio-fuel as an alternative to oil drew divided opinions among the panel. While Gandhi emphasized that bio-fuel had to be an option because of the skyrocketing oil prices, Gorbachev said bio-fuel had to be promoted in a way that the rain forests were not destroyed because 60 per cent of the world’s carbon emissions were being absorbed by the rain forests.
The subject of nuclear power again drew a wedge between the speakers. Gandhi said nuclear power was not an option for India. “We cannot handle nuclear waste; nor can others who pretend they can”, she said.
Gorbachev, on the other hand, was of the opinion that new types of power plants had to be developed with safety as a top requirement. He renounced nuclear weapons but when it came to nuclear power he said we had to reconsider it in light of the fact that the only choice we have today is between something that’s bad and something that’s worse.
Could reliance on bio-fuel lead to food shortages?
Gandhi said India had an abundance of sugar cane and was developing crop especially for generating energy and this was a good option.
Hans-Gert Poettering, President of the EP, speaking on behalf of the hosts of the function, said that the EP has made tackling climate change one of its highest priorities.
The Energy Globe Award was first presented in the year 2000. Wolfgang Neumann, President of Energy Globe Foundation, said in a statement that this award is today’s most prominent environmental prize worldwide. Over 100 nations participate.
This year 15 nominees working on viable environmental projects, saving the planet from millions of tons of carbon emissions and other pollutants, were selected from 853 submissions under the categories Earth, Fire, Water, Air and Youth.
The awards were presented at a gala function with Indian actor and director, Aamir Khan, being one among many celebrities presenting the awards.