India – the Long March to a Climate Movement

Authored by: Arne Harms , Oliver Powalla

Routledge Handbook of the Climate Change Movement

Print publication date:  December  2013
Online publication date:  January  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415839259
eBook ISBN: 9780203773536
Adobe ISBN: 9781135038878

10.4324/9780203773536.ch12

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Abstract

Hardly any nation state is affected in so diverse ways by the dynamics of anthropogenic climate change as India. Committed to the ideology and practice of rapid economic growth, contemporary India experiences an almost unrestricted exploitation of resources, the establishment of polluting industries, and the lure of new consumerist lifestyles. Therefore India belongs to the group of nations aggravating climate change. At the same time, however, there is hardly any disagreement that the accelerated climate change will have diverse, yet dramatic consequences for India. In fact dislocations have already begun to make themselves felt. They range from irregularities or shiftings in rainfall patterns over the melting of Himalayan glaciers and the endangerment of vast coastal landscapes to the increase of ‘natural disasters’ (see Toman et al. 2003; Dash 2007; Indian Network for Climate Change Assessment 2010). The immense diversity of likely consequences rests partly, of course, on the geographic and climatic diversity of the gigantic state. But the consequences of climate change in India can hardly be constricted to the mentioned effects. Large parts of the population will become victims of shifting meteorological regimes or disasters precisely due to their social vulnerability and poverty. The increasing contributions of emerging middle classes to accelerated climate change stand therefore in a sharp contrast to the continuously deepening vulnerabilities in other strata of Indian society.

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