National Conference on Air Pollution and Climate Change
Citizen consumer and civic Action Group (CAG)
Date : 31.01.2023 | Venue : The Residency Towers, Chennai | 9am-6pm
Mr. Deepak Bilgi I.F.S., Director, Department of Environment and Climate Change, Government of Tamil Nadu
For immediate release
The current climate crisis and our alarming levels of air pollution weave together intricately, each one exacerbating the deadly effects of the other. The primary driver of climate change is the burning of fossil fuels. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has warned that fossil fuel emissions must be halved within 11 years from now if we’re to achieve the ambitious Paris Agreement’s goal of limiting global warming to 1.5°C compared to pre-industrial levels. In India, apart from our heavy reliance on coal power, we also have pollutant contributions from the transport sector, industries, commercial and residential constructions and conventional cooking fuel - each with a finger on the trigger that claimed the lives of nearly 1.6 million people in India, in 2019 alone. (This is the largest death toll in the world resulting from air pollution.)
Science has established that air pollution and climate change are two sides of the same coin. Anything that causes air pollution exacerbates climate change. In the same vein, tackling air pollution at source is a direct and significant solution to mitigate effects of climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The National Conference on Air Pollution and Climate Change conducted by Citizen consumer and civic Action Group (CAG) on the 31st of January saw stakeholders from the civil society, academia, industry, underrepresented groups (women and indigenous population) and government officials come together, to understand the problems from the ministerial to institutional to grassroot levels and derive a holistic approach to control air pollution and mitigate climate change effects. Saroja, Executive Director of CAG explained the event as a ‘coming together of like minds; all of us are concerned, and know this descent into climate crisis needs to be addressed. The aim of the conference was to create a common workspace within which we can talk and collaborate.’
Mr. Deepak Bilgi I.F.S., Director, Department of Environment & Climate Change, Tamil Nadu delivered the keynote address. He explained how bringing about intrinsic changes in human behaviour is key to success and to achieve this, we need to prioritise climate literacy. He explained through personal anecdotes how, ‘Changing lifestyles and human behaviour seems arduous but is not impossible.’ He also released CAG’s textbook FOCUS (Facts on Climate Change Unravelled for Students), which is part of a pilot project that is currently running in select Chennai schools. The aim of the project is the climate literacy that Mr.Bilgi had discussed - to create the next generation of climate leaders who are engaged and feel empowered enough to act.
The event panelists discussed topics that spanned the air pollution / climate change nexus - from sources of air pollution to the scope and mandate of the National Clean Air Program (NCAP) with analysis into whether sufficient budgetary allocation has been made to promote compliance, to possible sustainable solutions to tackle air pollution.
Prof.Sultan Ismail, Member, State Planning Commission, Tamil Nadu, speaking on ‘Suffocating Indian cities’, explained through several stories and narratives, how biodiversity, and the existence of mankind is all inextricably linked. Mr.G.Sundarrajan, Poovulagin Nanbargal, speaking on the North - South Chennai divide in quality of life, particularly air quality, remarked that ‘We need to breathe to live; but what if breathing is killing you?’
Modern problems require modern and sustainable solutions, the correct technologies and the political will to carry it through to fruition. The proceeds of the national conference is an important step in the knowledge framework that will aid this long and challenging journey.
For further information, contact: Vamsi Kapilavai – 9493892929 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Citizen consumer & civic Action Group (CAG) is a thirty seven year old non-profit and non-political organisation working on citizen rights and good governance. It has worked primarily to protect the interests of consumers and citizens of Chennai though its efforts have had state level and even national level impacts.