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Lessons from not so long ago

Kavita Watsa's picture

Even in the frugal India of the 1970s, where the idea of waste bordered on the criminal, I thought my grandfather was being excessively old-fashioned when he refused to use our indoor water-heater to take a hot bath in the cooler months.

Lessons from not so long ago
Photo © Cammeraydave | Dreamstime.com
Although we could quite easily afford our modest electricity bills, he would insist on staggering outside with a bucket of water and leaving it to grow warm in the afternoon sunshine for a few hours. Then he would struggle back indoors with it, and, presently, emerge from his bath to take his evening walk down to the railway station to watch the trains go by. My granddad was eighty years old at the time: a man of many interests, but very few needs.

Was it really just three decades ago that my granddad’s carbon footprint was barely visible? Today, as part of my job at the World Bank, I’ve been following climate issues closely, and am often struck by the difference between life in a big western city in the 21st century and in the small-town India in which I grew up. In my world today, many people are beginning to adopt “carbon fasts” during the Christian period of Lent, agreeing to a daily low-carbon action, say, unscrewing a light bulb and doing without it for 40 days. But in the small-town India of my childhood, my grandfather wouldn’t have installed—much less used—an electric light, unless he really needed it to begin with. 

The National Adaptation Programmes of Action

Arun Agrawal's picture

The National Adaptation Programmes of Action (NAPAs) are the most prominent national efforts in the least developed countries (LDCs) to identify priority areas for climate change adaptation. Now that most of the NAPAs have been completed (38 out of 48), it is time to ask if they matter. 

The NAPAs were completed at a price tag of near 10 million dollars for preparation and another anticipated 2 billion for implementation. It might appear they are a golden opportunity for the developed world to show that it is serious about supporting adaptation in vulnerable countries. But the NAPA reports continue to sit on the UNFCCC’s website, available to anyone to read but with little prospects of attracting funds for implementation – or so think many who participated in the NAPA process!