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Turn veg, fight climate change

india Updated: Nov 23, 2009 00:33 IST
Bharati Chaturvedi

Despite his propensity to divide policy makers, environmentalists and the public, Environment and Forests Minister Jairam Ramesh has just made a valuable suggestion.

His plea not to eat beef, deserves really serious attention. True, most Indians are unlikely to ever eat beef, but the idea of becoming a vegetarian is an excellent way to combat climate change.

Not only is meat more carbon intensive, but given the likely drop in crop yield, converting these into meat and chicken is plain stupid.

Before Copenhagen, take a vow. Become vegetarian for the planet. I’m trying and it seems within reach.

Public not private
As India becomes increasingly urban, we have two choices — to be like the cities of the US, or follow the example of Mexico City.

In the US, with the exception of a few cities — New York, Boston, Washington, D.C. and San Francisco — you can’t travel if you can’t drive.

The impact of such a policy is apparent in the numbers. New York’s greenhouse gas emissions are only 30 per cent of most large US cities, mostly because you can walk, take a bus or Metro.

On the other hand, Mexico City, which has recently got an award from Harvard University, has invested in the Metrobus, really like the BRT. Apart from the known benefits of pubic transport, this one even plans to sell carbon credits.

Indians, unfortunately, are stuck with the snobbery of a car, the inefficiency of public transport and an urban vision that just doesn’t dream green.

Few if any non-metro cities offer efficient bus services. Delhi, with a new line to the Metro, has almost no bus feeder services.

Even in old cities like Lucknow, it’s hard to depend on public transport.

Given how we are hurtling into urban-hood, India should grab every opportunity to provide clean public transport that both the poor and the middle classes can use.