Breathing LiFE into the climate narrative

Source: The post is based on an article “Breathing LiFE into the climate narrative” published in the Indian Express on 5th August 2022.

Syllabus: GS 3 Ecology and Environment

Relevance: The Concept of Lifestyles for the Environment (LiFE)

News: Recently, the Prime Minister of India launched the concept of “Lifestyle for the Environment” (LiFE) on June 5, 2022, World Environment Day.

In November 2021, at the CoP 26 in Glasgow, Prime Minister Narender Modi, in addition to announcing the panchamrit, or five climate-related commitments of the country, also articulated the concept of LiFE.

About the concept of LiFE

It is planned as a first-of-its-kind global movement that advocates for “mindful and deliberate utilization” by people worldwide, instead of “mindful and wasteful consumption”.

It will provide the world with a unique people-powered platform to relentlessly focus on bringing individual and collective actions to the core of the climate action narrative.

Objectives

(1) It aims to harness the power of individual and collective action across the world to address the climate crisis. It aims to nudge individuals and communities to adopt simple and specific climate-friendly behaviors in their daily lifestyles. For instance, an individual can carry a reusable cloth bag instead of a plastic bag; walk short distances instead of driving; or turn off electrical appliances when not in use; prioritize public transport wherever possible and take other similar actions.

(2) LiFE aims to activate a global community of “Pro Planet People” and steer the world towards a sustainable model of development.

Key Component

(1) Consume responsibly: LiFE plans to break down the mental model like Sustainable living and comfortable living are competitors. It will nudge the world to consume responsibly, rather than consuming less.

LiFE will deploy a range of tested behavioral techniques, including nudges, social and behavior change communication, and norm influencing to make mindful consumption a mass movement, on which India relied in the recent jan andolans such as the Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM).

(2) Produce responsibly: The LiFE movement’s nudging of the consumption patterns of the society may also go to the extent of leading to responsible production and a sustainable market.

(3) Live responsibly: Humans remain at the mercy of the natural world, no matter how much technological progress we make as a global society. This was recently proved during the Covid pandemic.

Why can climate change no longer be an after-thought to the global development agenda?

It has been estimated that the global economy could lose up to 18% of GDP, and India could lose $6 trillion by 2050 if no climate action is taken.

In India alone, more than 50% of our largely rural workforce will be negatively affected by climate change.

Further, the ongoing climate crisis is already threatening food and water security across the world.

Importance of community and individual actions

According to the United Nation Environment Programme (UNEP), if one billion people out of the total global population of close to eight billion people adopt eco-friendly behaviours in their day-to-day lives, then global carbon emissions could drop by approx 20%. For Example

(1) Eco-friendly behaviours include turning off ACs, heaters, and lights when not in use can conserve up to 282 kilowatts of electricity per day.

(2) Avoiding food wastage can reduce an individual’s carbon footprint by 370 kg per year.

(3) Reducing one flight trip per year can reduce per capita carbon emissions by 700 to 2,800 kg.

Other pro-planet initiatives around the world

(1) Denmark promotes the use of bicycles by limiting parking within the city centre and providing exclusive bike lanes.

(2) Japan has its unique “walk-to-school” mandate, which has been in practice since the early 1950s.

The Way Forward

India can lead the global climate debate by nudging the world towards a new model of sustainable and inclusive development through the LiFE movement.

The LiFE movement can play a pivotal role in not merely reversing the effects of climate change, but also mainstreaming a harmonious and mindful way of living.

The Indian leadership can promote LiFE movement while presiding as the G20, a group that covers 60% of the global population, 80% of the global GDP, and 75% of global exports.

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