The unofficial Indian delegation is creating as much news at Copenhagen as the official one.
Two ragpickers, one from Delhi and one from Mumbai, stood up to question a United Nations official on clean technology. A Rajasthani farmer demanded to know why the Copenhagen negotiators weren’t prioritising agriculture.
A Mumbai student withstood freezing temperatures in a protest demonstration to convince fractious negotiators to agree to a deal.
The official Indian delegation numbers only 35 people, but more than 1,500 Indian representatives of non-governmental organisations are also leaving their imprint on the Summit.
Raju Santi, a 24 year-old ragpicker from north Delhi, stunned United Nations officials when he entered a meeting on the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), which funds the adoption of clean technologies in developing countries and asked in Hindi why ragpicking wasn’t recognised as a clean technology. With him was Baby, from Mumbai, who goes only by her first name. She elaborated on the problems ragpickers face — in Marathi.
“I asked them why incinerators which cause carbon emission are in CDM and we who support recycling of waste, resulting in lesser carbon emission, have been ignored,” said Santi, who’s studied till class V.
“Around 15 million people in south Asia are ragpickers. But instead of providing them support for climate mitigation, CDM authorities are ending their livelihood by providing financial support to plants that burn municipal waste.”
Mumbaikar Sailash Ratnakar stood almost naked in freezing temperatures outside the Bella Centre on Thursday, asking delegates to ensure a treaty. “I am here for a cause,” said Ratnakar.
Ram Kripal, from Rajasthan’s Bikaner district, was at Copenhagen to represent more than 600 million Indians who depend on agriculture for their livelihood and for whom climate change poses the biggest risk.
“Nobody is talking about agriculture. The conference is just a business opportunity for companies,” Kripal told HT.
Kirpal made a presentation to a UN subgroup on agriculture, saying rich countries should fund agricultural research in developing countries.