Changing mind sets: way to achieve green growth

Published by firstgreen on

 We have just come to the end of the 11th five year plan period in India which was the period of “inclusive development”; the 12th five year plan is poised to attain more inclusive development that is faster and sustainable. Sustainability is pretty much embedded in all our development agenda that we chart. Sustainability is underlying theme of global and local policy dialogue and a goal that we wish to achieve. It is also commonly understood that particularly for developing nations such as ours, sustainable development and economic growth have to go hand in hand. Green growth is the new talk of town wherein we look at a forward-looking economic development agenda that does not ignore environment .

In my several years of tryst with the sector, I have realised that no matter what we define in our policy documents, it is unattainable without a drastic shift in our mindsets and the fact that we can only achieve it as a nation through collective thinking and matching actions. In a recently concluded summit in Delhi, several nations had gathered to discuss the environmental issues that are matter of common concern to the world and ways and means to address them through innovative policies and programs and citizen actions. Quebec is one such province in Canada.

Quebec, the largest province of Canada generates about 98% of its energy through renewable energy resources mostly Hydro, and yet it has set stiff targets for cutting emissions through innovative policies that require changing mindset of people to adhere and achieve. Aptitude and Attitude are two key pillars to attain the goals ,as the Quebec residents says . Aptitude refers to the resource endowment of Quebec in natural resources (forests, lakes, minerals) and man made resources (the province has over 200 research development institutions) to enable foster scientifically nurtured growth; it was easy for them to develop and grow in an unrestrained way as they are blessed and endowed, but they chose to tread a more sustainable path so that the future of residents is greener and healthier. “Attitude” of people and government enables the province of population density of only 6/sq km, to achieve its sustainability goals through engagement of civil society and government with equal poise. Right from greener and environmentally responsible manufacturing in all sectors including aviation, to recycling policies and policies on greener habitats, or shifting to alternative fuels for transportation and increasing shift to public transport ,sustainability is the threading parameter across all sectors and goals are strictly monitored and measured. It is mindset that can influence much needed change in the way we live and work.

Back home, Delhi has a population density of 9340/sqkm as per latest census, which is alarmingly high and yet we seem to be adding to our ever increasing car fleet and urbanise areas in peripheral territories which have no other way of commuting other than use of personal vehicles. “Right to own vehicles is a personal aspiration” but “ control on usage” is determined through government policies. Delhi is trying to introduce congestion charges, hefty road taxes to control vehicle usage…but where is the alternative? Access to safe public transport and last mile connectivity is a distant dream which I often dream about. Integrated land and transport planning can be easily introduced in new planning paradigm ,but who is listening? Government wants to densify urban areas to monetise land costs more effectively; there are several forward looking urban local bodies that want to link increased floor area provisions (in order to densify urban settlements) to adoption of green building concepts. However, in order to take advantage of incorporation of greener concepts we need to take a step back and think holistically of its implications:

1. Increased floor area ratio shall require provision for additional car parking and hence more number of cars shall be added to the city; thus byelaws need to be revised

2. The infrastructure planning may not have been planned keeping in mind the increased population, hence overloading of sewer lines, increased demand for water may be unavoidable, unless addressed at the right time

3. National building code prescribes standards for design for water supply for different building typologies which has to be adhered to for necessary building permissions. Green building standards may enable a building to operate at much lower level of consumption, but would we be allowed to design for our water supply based on reduced anticipated consumption? A question to ponder.

4. Why should a builder invest on a green building ?when the benefits shall be passed to consumers who does not understand the benefit of greener building and is willing pay extra for saving in future

It is a paradox that we are more concerned of our immediate benefits and are not foresighted enough for our future…or de we really care? However, being ever optimistic I think we need to change the way to influence mindsets and in turn enable us take steps that is good for us and our future generation:

1. It has been proven through research and published by WHO that daylight increases productivity and is healthy for us. Patients can cure faster if hospital rooms have access to daylight; daylight helps Vitamin D production which is instrumental for calcium absorption and hence stronger bones….arguments that may influence us to use daylight …good for us and good for environment as we shall turn off lights and save electricity

2. Air conditioning is associated with certain health risks, although it may also be the only way to rapidly reduce heat load in some structures. Large heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems may increase risks of bacterial proliferation and infectious disease transmission if not well maintained, and in the absence of sufficient air exchanges. Thus lesser airconditioning and natural ventilation is good for us. It will in turn save precious energy resources

3. VOC , a commonly found compound in paints, varnishes and furniture can cause cancer…a fact that can induce us to shift to greener paints and VOC free adhesives.

4. Energy efficiency can reduce our electricity bills by upto half…so why not adopt it?

5. Walking and cycling tones up our muscles and we can look and feel better…and cut emissions by lesser use of vehicles

So, the bottom line is that, we need to recognise that sustainable principles are as good for us as for our future generations…and collectively help contribute to government agenda of achieving a faster, inclusive and sustainable growth.

source- The Economic Times