Published: Wednesday 28 February 2007

Slow but sure

I am writing in response to the article 'Access denied', (Down To Earth, April 30, 1997). The story mentions my name. I have no idea how the magazine got information about my illness. I am doing fine and am regularly taking my hiv/aids medicines. I was 18 when the article was published and did not know much about hiv/aids or understood its implications.

Tyeisha Ross

excerpt from our story of april 1997:

"Not everyone can afford the expensive multi-drug therapy for hiv/aids. But those who can are not being given the treatment deliberately by doctors in the us. The reason is very simple: mistrust. Tyeisha Ross is a street-smart 18-year-old girl who does not understand the responsibility expected of a person carrying the hiv/aids virus. She sometimes misses doctor's appointments and fails to take medications.

Ross, through her Medicaid coverage, can afford the costly new drugs that might halt her progress towards aids, but her doctor will not prescribe it for her. She feels that Ross cannot handle a complex drug-taking regimen, where missing doses could have serious consequences, making her virus resistant to future treatment. "I don't trust her ability to stick to a schedule," said Jeanne Carey, a physician at Beth Israel Medical Centre's hiv clinic in Manhattan."

Climate dialectic

This is in response to the editorial 'Climate: the market's Achilles heel' (Down To Earth, November 30, 2006). We agree with the assessment that global warming is possibly the biggest and most difficult economic and political issue confronting the world at present. But the costs, that will be--and indeed, are already--falling predominantly on the poorest and most vulnerable, who are least responsible for it. Climate inequity extends beyond mitigation.

The editorial, though, is still couched in terms of 'worlds', that is, it remains at the level of countries. The urgency of the situation, and indeed justice, demands that we start including responsibilities and capabilities of individuals as well as of countries in our deliberations on how we deal with the problems of climate change.

Distributive justice is one way out. To explain this, let us assume that we agree, for reasons of equity, to calculate emission restrictions on a 'per capita' basis after the Kyoto target expires in 2012. More precisely, let us assume that each country would be allocated an emission cap--an 'assigned amount' of emission permits--totalling a target per capita amount (a fraction of today's global average emissions per person) multiplied by the country's (present day) population. For example, India--whose current emissions per inhabitant is much lower than the world average--would entail a considerable surplus of emissions on permits. And, as long as there are surplus permits, India would not be forced to introduce emission mitigation to stay within its assigned amount. Indeed, under international trade for such permits, India could legitimately earn significant export revenues from the sale of these surplus permits.

The crucial fact is that emissions are not just a matter of occupying one's fair share of ecological space, but also a matter of causing harm, something which is in danger of being overlooked if one's focus is solely on just allocation of emission rights.

Indeed, the principle of common but differentiated responsibility and respective capability demands that whoever is capable should not only reduce their responsibility but also contribute to compensate for the harm done.

Benito Mller
Oxford Climate Policy
Oxford Institute for Energy Studies

Saleemul Huq
International Institute for Environment and Development
Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies

>> It is a fact that developed countries will never compromise on their stand on emissions, and developing countries will feel constrained, but will not want to opt out of the race. The concept of carbon credits means that foreign companies that cannot fulfill the protocol norms buy surplus credit from companies in other countries through trading. This gives them leeway to continue emitting since they have the money to buy credits. What everybody needs to understand is, it is a loss-loss situation. What we call development and economic growth is just a myth at the cost of our civilisation.

Ciby John

>> This is in response to 'Unknown future', (Down To Earth, December 15, 2006). I agree that poor countries may use Stern's report to promote emission reductions but an uncritical acceptance of it is a mistake.

The report has collected a lot of convenient data and questionable economic studies to argue what some people (such as uk prime minister Tony Blair) like to hear, without adding anything to the quality of debate. Who should really care if the author is a former World Bank chief economist or a great academic or a poodle?

The article says, "We need to know whether the change in monsoon patterns an.

CDM misconstrued

In the cover story 'Newest biggest deal', (Down To Earth, November 15, 2005), the analysis of Clean Development Mechanism (cdm) appear impetuous and rash. I have been an environmental studies student and am now a cdm consultant. I would like to point out some loopholes in the story.

The validation process is not as straight forward as stated. I agree that consultants are hired to write the project design document by companies and that in itself obliges the consultants to promote the project. However, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change has enlisted auditing firms such as the Oslo-based Det Norske Veritas and London-based Bureau Veritas Quality International, to validate projects based on their credentials and reliability.

It is too optimistic to assume that any project will get registered and make a lot of money just because it helps mitigate climate change. I myself failed to get registration for a small-scale canal-based hydro project owing to the highly demanding monitoring and management protocol required for cdm.

Your assumption that the cdm executive board does not have much say is again wrong. After validation by the designated operational entity, the board takes the final call and there have been instances where validated projects have been rejected by the board.

The article contradicts its own claim when it says that the host country government should have a greater say in the cdm cycle. Isn't it obvious that they would give preference to all projects belonging to their country?

The project design document gives little scope to emphasise stakeholder relationships and sustainable development. Many a time it is ignorance and superstition that turn village-level stakeholders against a project.

It is rather harsh on your part to term cdm as a perverse incentive given to developed countries to carry on pollution. And cdm is not corrupt but as transparent as it could get with public comments being encouraged at all stages of project registration.

Debapriya Roy

Water woes

With reference to 'A lake divided', (Down To Earth, December 15, 2006), the dispute about distributing Rajsamand Lake water in Rajasthan's Rajsamand district clearly shows how water is increasingly the cause of conflicts.

A similar conflict erupted in the state's Tonk district where farmers demanded that water from the Bisalpur dam be reserved for them and not be diverted to neighbouring cities. In Karauli district, too, farmers protested against water supply from Panchana dam to the Keoladeo National Park in Bharatpur district.

Such incidents occur in most parts of Rajasthan and point towards the future of water in India. Our decision takers are myopic and work only with a time tested 'manual of operation'. They convince people the problem is temporary and make false promises claiming to sort out the problem. But, alas!

The central government's National Water Policy, 2002, provides directions for preparation of state water policies. The Rajasthan water policy should soon be revised on those lines. Any delay will only aggravate the problem.

S K Bakliwal and R K Gupta

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