November 01, 2002
Children hog the limelight at CoP-8 with their very own edition of Gobar Times
Enele Sopoaga, Ambassador of Tuvalu to the United Nations and chief negotiator of Tuvalu, today released a special edition of Gobar Times, produced entirely by children at the Eighth Conference of Parties (CoP-8) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
Gobar Times is a children’s supplement to the Centre for Science and Environment’s (CSE) fortnightly magazine Down To Earth. Gobar is cowdung in Hindi, indicative of the fact that millions of Indians survive on bio-mass, not fossil fuels like people in the North. Young, intrepid children from various schools in New Delhi collaborated with CSE to produce the newsletter, and reiterate the importance of equity in global environmental negotiations and the need for industrialised nations to take responsibility for mitigating the adverse effects of climate change.
Releasing the eight-page evocative edition, Sopoaga heartily congratulated the children’s painstaking efforts and said they have made a realistic assessment of the issues involved and zeroed in on the failures of CoP-8. "We need to take their perspective seriously if we are concerned about the future of the earth."
Talking of Tuvalu, an island-nation in the Pacific that is a perfect example of the catastrophic effects of global warming in a developing world, Sopoaga voiced concern about the lack of commitment and moral responsibility of the developed world in the matter of climate change.
Tuvalu has been the victim of rising sea levels, resulting in floods that have changed lives for the 10,000 citizens of the island. The island was in the news last year when it announced plans to evacuate its citizens. But Tuvalu’s proposal to relocate its citizens was rejected by Australia (whose per capita carbon di-oxide emissions are 17.19 tonnes as per the International Energy Agency, 2002). The island nation has now arranged a deal with New Zealand, whereby a number of its citizens would be accepted each year effectively as environmental refugees. The arrangement is projected for 30 to 50 years. In a desperate attempt, Koloa Talake, the Prime Minister of Tuvalu, announced on March 5, 2002, plans to sue the world’s worst greenhouse gas polluters at the International Court of Justice.
Bhanu Gandotra, a young spirited Gobar Times reporter said, "We as children demand clean and sustainable development and a world without the adverse effects of greenhouse gases. It’s time to pressurise our government and the international community to adopt policies to combat climate change. It is our world, our future, we must save it."
Pallavi Kaushal, another enthusiastic scribe, suggested the need to build bridges between the North and the South and shift to renewable technologies at the earliest.
Rustam Vania, co-ordinator at CSE's Environment Education Unit, which is responsible for producing Gobar Times, underscored the significance of such publications to reach out to young minds to encourage them to be tomorrow’s proactive policy makers.