Meet Jatin Nagpal. It takes this gentleman just half an hour to give an erudite wrap on the emerging carbon credit economy, efforts by various corporations to bring electricity to India’s neglected rural pockets, and even the carbon footprint of the ongoing Climate Change conference in Copenhagen.
Nagpal is a Class 8 student of Manav Sthali School, New Rajinder Nagar.
Like most of his schoolmates, the 13-year-old is not only green on the outside (thanks to the dark green sweater that is part of the school uniform) but green on the inside, too.
The school has been leading green initiatives among West Delhi Schools for more than two decades. The environment department of the Delhi government has even presented the institution with its own paper-recycling machine.
“I believe our first green initiative was planting trees in the nearby areas almost 20 years ago,” said Dr. Reema G. Sachdev, the school’s education administrator.
In addition to recycling paper that comes from other schools and nearby areas and spreading water table awareness, the school also has its own kitchen garden where students are encouraged to grow their own tomatoes, brinjals and cauliflowers.
Nagpal was one of the more-than-100 students from Classes 8, 9 and 11 meeting Hindustan Times Editor-at-Large Samar P Halarnkar for a climate change discussion on Tuesday morning.
This was the fifth in a series of meetings between Hindustan Times and prominent Delhi schools in sync with the ongoing international conference on Climate Change at Copenhagen in Denmark.
Halarnkar first established a direct connect with the students through references to the theme of climate change in popular culture in movies like 2012, and The Day After Tomorrow.
After a brief question and answer round on carbon credits and their relevance, Halarnkar asked the students what position they would like India to bargain for at the Copenhagen Summit.
Most students were for voluntary emission cuts based on certain conditions.
“We should voluntarily reduce existing emission as proposed by the environment minister only if the West compensates us financially and provides green technology,” said Mannat Sachdeva, Class 11.
Nagpal agreed: “India has limited economic means. How can the developed world expect us to put our development on hold? We need their help to make this change,” he said.
The meeting was concluded with Sachdev summing up the interaction and articulating how rapid a change environmental concerns had undergone since her own school days.
“When I was a student, I was always told to ‘act local and think global’, but the environmental danger we now face is so grave that we need to both act and think globally,” she said.
“We need to do all we can for the environment — whether as students, parts of a community or a country; the identity of the actor is not important as long as the effort is honest.”