During the “Ethical Framework for a Sustainable World” conference, Green Cross President Alexander Likhotal chaired a panel discussion focused on the ethics of climate change. Joining him on the panel were Mr. Prasas Menon, Managing Director from TATA Power, Mr. S.K. Nanda, Environmental Secretary of the Government of Gujarat, and Dr. Brendon Mackey, Professor at the Australian National University.
The conference commemorates the 10 years of the Earth Charter, a guideline for building a just, sustainable and peaceful global society in the modern era.
Opening the panel, Mr. Likhotal questioned why climate change conferences are not held more often in developing countries, where the interests of a few major countries do not hold negotiations hostage. He also discussed how the political system was no longer able to address long-term interests.
As he finished his own remarks, he made note of the youth in attendance at the panel session, and invited Ms. Rini Dutta, a post-graduate student from Gujarat University, to speak about the youth perspectives on climate change. She claimed that they see climate change as an opportunity to make polluters pay, to negotiate new climate agreements, and to advance environmental ideas and technologies.
Mr. Menon spoke next about the ethical concerns about sustainable development. He felt that energy could not be taken for granted, and that new demands must be met through further investments in renewable technologies. The real challenge lies in convincing consumers and business stakeholders about the advantages of a sustainable approach.
Mr. Nanda followed, discussing the need for an immediate investment in renewable energy resources, and the role of Clean Development Mechanisms (CDMs) in climate change efforts. CDMs, he claimed, are being used by businesses to create greater economic gains rather than for green initiatives.
After, Dr. Mackey talked about how the Earth Charter could be used to closely examine the ethical issues associated with recent climate change treaties, in addition to the political and economic consequences that garner much of the world’s attention. He also called for the price to the environment from carbon emission to be built into consumer prices, in order to raise consumer awareness.
Mr. Likhotal concluded the panel by quoting the German philosopher Lithenberg, saying “I do not know what will change, but I do know that nothing will change if we do not change.” He then described the Earth Charter as a lighthouse, revealing to people the guidelines for aligning global action for sustainable development.