Climate Sustainability through Sustainable Consumption and Production
by Uchita de Zoysa, Executive Director, Centre for Environment & Development, Sri Lanka
As climate change is being promoted as the greatest challenge faced by future human societies on earth, more than half of humanity is under poverty. In reality the world is still divided in its path to save the world. The Group of 77 developing countries (G77) lobby within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is struggling hard to ensure that the traditional power politics of the Northern hemisphere does not undermine the development aspirations of the Southern country people. While the debate on 'the right to development in a climate change agenda' increases, lifestyles in developing countries too are increasingly becoming non environmental friendly as it used to be and more people are joining the ranks of the ‘consumer classes’.
The Asian Review on Sustainable Consumption (ARSC) conducted by the this author for the UNEP SC.Asia Programme in 2005 concluded that the ultimate goal of sustainable consumption is creating better quality of life for all to enable wellbeing and happiness. It also suggested that efficiency per say will not bring bout the desired radical changes to the current unsustainable consumption patterns that contributes also to climate change. Therefore sufficiency (a growing concept that includes self-reliance, adequacy and contentment) should be seriously promoted as an alternative. The ARSC also argued that sustainable consumption needs to be discussed in the interest of half of the world’s population that are in poverty, while addressing the over consumption issues of the developed countries. It emphasized that equity in consumption is a major challenge of the international community that seeks to regulate unsustainable consumption patterns.
National and regional climate change polices will continue to head towards driving a larger share of benefits from the international climate change agenda. While demanding greater mitigation commitment from the developed nations, they will also continue to demand higher stakes to commit towards adaptation. While international negotiations are battled based on global political and trade power, the climate keeps on deteriorating, poverty continues to affect humanity, and the overall target of sustainability gets lost in the debate.
This paper from an Asian perspective argues that national and regional polices (including climate change policies) needs to be based on a set of common criteria that adopts sustainable lifestyles (consumption and production) which includes;
1. Equitable consumption opportunities that enables wellbeing & happiness of all
2. Sustainable lifestyles that promotes healthy and peaceful environmental conditions
3. Sufficiency based development paradigms to replace growth based GDP and GNP