I had an opportunity to be in New York on 22nd April when Paris Climate Agreement was opened for the signature by the world leaders. Knowing it is Earth Day, I decided to participate in “Down to Earth” event in my village.
Indeed, I thought, accelerated implementation of the Paris agreement and raising the bar-to take Green House Gas (GHG) reduction targets to much higher heights -is so crucial for existence of life on the Earth. At the same time, I thought that walking the talk, at individual way, is more important.
On that international Earth day- I travelled to my native town of population 25,000 to join my friends for get going on the implementation of climate agreement albeit in very small way.
We cleaned the dirty, stagnated and plastic-full rivulet flowing at the entrance of the town . The rivulet was once source of water to the town but in era of ‘modern development’ it was conveniently transformed into dumping ground for the waste generated by the town. Garbage flows there in place of water. It is the horrific scene of stagnated dirty water bodies-full of plastic garbage-that affects the health of the people and animals. We cleaned it and dug pits on the banks of the rivulet for the trees to be planted when the rains would start.
Another project we launched was sale of Organic agricultural products, for the first time in the town. It was great surprise to watch people buying the organic products even at higher price. People of my town have started realising that health and sustainability are more important than the price they pay for unsustainable practices. We decided to continue the sales-outlet every week during bazar-day.
But what organic farming and cleaning the rivulet have to do with Climate Change?
Organic farming affordably captures carbon from the air and effectively stores it in the soil in high levels for long-periods. It reduces greenhouse gas emissions arising from excessive use of man-made fertilizers that emit nitrous oxide which is 300 times more potent green house gas than carbon dioxide.
Cleaning the rivulet would make the stagnant water flow again. Removing decomposing rubbish in stagnant water would stop the emission of methane –a GHG that has Global Warming Potential
( GWP) higher than carbon-dioxide. Planting the trees would create a sink that would absorb the carbon-dioxide.
More than just a voluntary work on the Earth day, we had started, in tiny way, the implementation of Paris Climate Deal. That was rural people’s signature on the Agreement! . END
By Rajendra Shende, TERRE Policy Centre