Environmental Sustainability and Economic Growth

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Can Environmental sustainability and Economic growth go together ?
“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together”. What is the intention behind this quote? If
we analyze, it’s simple we should work together. For example if we go alone to solve a problem we can solve it, however if we go collectively we can find multiple ways of solving it. The reason why I have used this quote is to try, and find out can environmental sustainability and economic growths go together. Some would argue what is the relation between environmental sustainability and economic growth. Basically both are interrelated we need to keep a balance between them. Question is how can we do this? The answer to this question lies in the second part that reads “if you want to go far, go together.” When we look around we see people are badly affected because of climate change. As a result of that there is extreme hot weather and water scarcity. There must be some reason behind all this, and that is environment is not behaving the way it should be. Questions arise why and are we responsible for it? Answer is yes, to some extent; all of us know that we are largely dependent on natural resources. And we are using it to full but we are not doing something to restore it. Water level is deteriorating day by day, we experience scorching heat in summer and summers are longer than normal. There has to be some solutions for preserving the environment. We need to look at bigger picture and we will find the factors affecting environmental instability. When you look at global map yow will find developed and developing countries. The numbers of developing countries are far more than developed. So developing countries are trying very hard to match their counterparts. In process of doing that they are focusing on issues which have to do with economic growth. And it includes industries, infrastructure and so on. What is left out is environment and that’s where the problem begins. I am not saying that growth should not be the priority but environment should also be taken into consideration. If every developing country decides to be super power ignoring environmental issues then the consequences can be catastrophic. It’s sound scary just from thought of it; now imagine if we really have to face the worse. I don’t want to be cynical but continuous research on this topic, has led many people to think seriously about it. We need to ask ourselves is there a way where we can strike a balance between economic growth and sustainability. The answer is a resounding yes; the first step in resolving a problem is to identify it then comes the ways of doing it. Now we have identified the problem what remains is the conscious effort to do something about it. We often hear about conferences happening around the world, in order to come to a consensus on how to reduce carbon emissions. It is a collective effort and a gradual process where in every country has to play a significant role. This is to abide by certain protocol for example the Kyoto Protocol which is an international agreement linked to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Under the Protocol, 37 countries ("Annex I countries") commit themselves to a reduction of four greenhouse gases (GHG) (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, sulphur hexafluoride) and two groups of gases (hydro fluorocarbons and per fluorocarbons) produced by them, and all member countries give general commitments. At negotiations, Annex I countries (including the US) collectively agreed to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 5.2% on average for the period 2008-2012. This reduction is relative to their annual emissions in a base year, usually 1990. Since the US has not ratified the treaty, the collective emissions reduction of Annex I Kyoto countries falls from 5.2% to 4.2% below base year. Sometimes I think why there is so much of hype about these protocols? However when I look at the intentions behind all these efforts, I agree that it’s time we together have to find a way to resolve this problem. Environment is not confined to develop or developing countries. It’s for all, so it becomes a collective responsibility to be sensitive towards it. Remember if we have to go far then we have to go together. Countries like, India, China and many others have to set an example that growth can also be achieved with a care for the environment. Talking about India the economy of India is the eleventh largest in the world by nominal GDP and the third largest by purchasing power parity (PPP). The country is one of the G-20 major economies and a member of BRICS. In 2011, the country's per capita income stood at $3,694 IMF, 129th in the world, thus making a lower-middle income economy. The current rate of consumption of resources and the resulting burden on the environment are not sustainable: in spite of technical improvements, growth in resource consumption has often outstripped progress on the environment or productivity increases. There is likely to be an even greater tendency in this direction as certain countries such as China or India become more industrially advanced. The risk of resources running out and the pollution caused by their use thus pose an ever-greater threat to our environment. India is still in its developing stage hence the development work is in peak, which results in high carbon emission on the contrary the per capita emission is only 1.7 tonnes per annum. It is something which is commendable. India is also inspiration to many when it comes to economic growth and cultural heritage. India is very serious about environmental sustainability and doing its bit, for instance IPCC - Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is a scientific intergovernmental body first established in 1988 by two United Nations organizations, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and later endorsed by the United Nations General Assembly through Resolution 43/53. Its mission is to provide comprehensive scientific assessments of current scientific, technical and socio-economic information worldwide about the risk of climate change caused by human activity, its potential environmental and socioeconomic consequences, and possible options for adapting to these consequences or mitigating the effects.

Why these rating agencies came in to existence and what exactly they are trying to accomplish? The sole purpose of these bodies is to create awareness about environmental issues. They are committed to make all efforts to restore the environmental sustainability. Most of the developed countries are working on how to reduce carbon emissions. They are concerned for environment hence they are walking a tight rope. One term that comes into my mind is Green buildings why there is so much of talk about green, is it the right step forward? Yes is the answer because green building is not the luxury it’s more of a necessity. Energy efficiency and less operating costs are some of the salient features of a green building. Now we have green rating system to rate the performance of the building on several parameters. For example USGBC, IGBC and GBCA are the green building rating organizations. Why people go for green ratings in their home and offices? Consumers building or renovating commercial and private residences are increasingly “going green.” Owners of green buildings benefit from lower energy costs, customer goodwill and may also receive federal, state, or local tax incentives. These potential benefits have prompted increased requests from building owners for verification that their building is “green.” In response, green building organizations developed certification systems that reward green building practices. The rating systems provide sellers, buyers, lenders and even governments an objective standard to measure the environmental impacts of new and existing buildings. Although green building certification is largely voluntary, some states and municipalities have passed legislation that requires public, and sometimes private, entities to incorporate LEED or other green building standards into their new or existing buildings. I can keep on writing about green buildings and its benefits. It can create awareness but alone that’s not going to serve the purpose. The need of the hour is to do something concrete. As I already discussed earlier that it’s a gradual process and we have to do it collectively. I have tried to highlight couple of practices which can help in our cause they are as follows: Effective protection of the environment: We must limit global environmental threats, such as climate change; to protect human health and safety from hazards such as poor air quality and toxic chemicals; and to protect things which people need or value, such as wildlife, landscapes and historic buildings. Prudent use of natural resources: We need to make sure that non-renewable resources are used efficiently and that alternatives are developed to replace them in due course. Renewable resources, such as water, should be used in ways that do not endanger the resource or cause serious damage or pollution. As they say it’s never a wrong time for right thing. Every small effort put in for environment sustainability will show its result in days to come. Sustainability is not the luxury but a necessity and those who realized it are working for it. So we can still achieve growth without compromising our environment. We need to be sensitive towards environment then only we deserve to live on this planet. We may be not there to ripe the benefits of it but our future generations will thank us for doing our bit.

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