Climate change poses a huge risk on women: Aditi Kapoor

Aditi Kapoor
published by-November 24, 2014
Themes: Environment

According to you, how is climate change related to gender issues?

Aditi Kapoor: Usually people don’t think there’s anything common between climate change and gender issues. But the fact is, if you look at the impacts of climate change in India, it impacts your agriculture, effects on how disaster prone you are and in both cases women are in the forefront. Natural resources wise, women shoulder more than 70 percent of agricultural tasks and according to the 11th planning commission, most of the work done with livestock and non-timber forest produce is done by women. This implies that when the natural resources are affected by climate change, women would face the most impacts. In terms of disaster, there is a UN study which shows that Women and girls are 14 times more likely to die than men.

When we look at climate change and gender issues, there are three concrete conclusions: a) Women are more affected than men. b) Women are affected first. c) Women have fewer resources to adapt to climate change. People working on women’s issues, should look at climate change and what it does a woman’s livelihood and support system.       

India has seen the rise of civil societies in the last decade. How can civil societies contribute in disseminating awareness and knowledge on climate change?

Aditi Kapoor: Civil society is a very loose term. Think tanks, practitioners, lobbyists are all a part of the civil society. I would rather say there is need for the average person to understand much more about climate change. All institutions should try to understand the links that their work has with climate change. If the institution is doing research on WTO or subsidies, they should find out the links their work has with climate change. There is need to mainstream climate change because the links are already there, we just need to find it. I think the learning probably starts with the self and then try to make the people around aware about climate change. Yes civil society has a role to play but at the same time the government, academia has a large role to play in this. There is tendency to push climate change under the carpet, but we should acknowledge the ongoing variablities in the environment and start looking for ways to understand and take some action.       

Do you think that National Action Plan on Climate Change has succeeded in addressing gender related issues?

Aditi Kapoor: The National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) has in principle recognised that women are more affected then men and they have fewer resources than men. But I don’t think that really constituents a gendered look at climate change. Unfortunately, the State Action Plans on Climate Change (SAPCC) started out without being gender responsive. That is something that we have picked out and worked with the state governments as well as the national governments and they have been very responsive and now you do see some of the state plans do reflecting some of the gender concerns. Even at the central level, the minutes of the expert committee which approves the SAPCCs does say that the gender concerns do need to be integrated into the SAPCCs.       

Renewable technology is still an expensive technology. How can it be made more economical and feasible for a country like India?

Aditi Kapoor: Yes, renewable energy is expensive but does that mean fossil fuel is cheap? No. We have been subsidising fossil fuels for decades and we never calculate it. Fossil fuel usage is not a start-up whereas renewable technology is a start-up and there is an increasing number of interest and investment in renewable technology. Based on this fact, renewable technology should get more subsidies.
In Germany and India, car manufacturers get subsidy. If you do the economics, fossil fuels have been getting tremendous amount of subsidies over the years. International Energy Agency in its 2012 report states that fossil fuel was subsidised to the extent of $544 billion whereas renewable energy was subsidised with $100 billion in the same year. There is a need to shift some subsidies to renewable energy and see where that leads to.

- OneWorld Foundation India