The Green Crisis

Of Market and Green Economy

C K Vishwanath

In the contemporary world discussions on green economy is quite common. Climate change, global warming etc are the most important topics for discussion across the globe. Along with the relevant topics, the business interests of the green economy are coming into the forefront after signing of the Kyoto Protocol in 1997 which came into force in 2005.In reality, however, this was creating a huge market for green economy. Hot air trading has got a new prominence. The alliance against global climate change has been a new economic agency for green market. The former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown had seen the positive impact on the climate change business. But, the question is—green investment, green infrastructure and green mode of economy for whom? Corporate interests are playing a dominant role to create a market for themselves in green market and green products. The ‘‘green new deal’’ for economic growth, Brown said, ‘‘is an opportunity to tackle over dependence on oil, to meet three interlinked objectives—energy, security, climate change and job creation together". Most of the leading financial giants and political elites of the world are in the same line. They are trying to boost economic productivity through this green development model. Each country has its own interests in this green development model. For example USA, which aims for controlling global food market, is investing in green farm technology upon which they can produce genetically modified seeds. Clean development mechanism is another strategy for solving the emission from the developed countries. This was a serious issue at the Copenhagan climate conference. The recession hit western economies are trying to overcome the crisis through climate change business. But this is against the interests of the developing world. The agrarian population of Asia, Africa and Latin America has to bear all the consequences relating to the emission of gas and developing new farm technologies.

The present day crisis relating to climate change has a gender dimension too. Greta Gurad and Lauren Guren, two noted eco-feminists, have observed the green crisis of world is due to unjust over consumption and production and it leads to the enslavement of women. ‘Environment and Justice’ movement, a social justice movement based in the USA, has declared that environmental justice affirms the sacredness of mother earth, ecological unity of species and the right to be free from ecological determinism. According to one estimate regarding the reality of existing environmental condition forests are disappearing at a rate of 17 billion hectares per year. Everyday the planet earth loses no less than 140 plant and animal species. The ongoing economic development has literally crushed the life chances of the different species of Earth. Middle class consumption is expanding in countries like India and has also created the problems of growth syndrome. The development mania among the middle class sections of the Indian society is nothing but a development disease only. But one of the promoter of Indian economic growth, Nandan Nilekani, says that allowing private entrepreneurship such as contract based agricultural eco-system services, in parallel with carbon pricing system can shift farmers away from destructive agricultural practices and also create a large new market for green agribusiness interlinking farmers more effectively to market that would also help them directly access to carbon markets. Green agribusiness for Indian small peasants, adivasis, dalits and other land based communities—what does it mean? The policy level shift from agriculture to agribusiness has created its own troubles across India. Farmers suicides are endemic, the problems of agricultural communities are being neglected, water table is depleting, prospects of drought are affecting India. Like Gordon Brown, climate change is an issue of business opportunities for Nandan Nilekani.

The ‘Financial Times’ has recently said in an editorial that if food was a soft policy issue before, it now rivals oil as a basis of power and economic security. The land issue and limit to growth reality has been the real survival issue of the global poor. The new global land grabbing has been very different from old plantation economies of colonial powers of the world. Land deals of Africa have been exposing the ugly underbelly of agrarian scenario. In Sudan, the land deals have expanded to around 24,000 hectares. Madagascar and the South Korean company Daewoo have reached an agreement in land deals. It includes half of Madagascar's arable land and also the lease extends to 90 years. The local economy of Madagascar doesn't get any kind of benefit in these kinds of land deals. Saudi Arabia has bought land for cultivating wheat in Sudan. China is also buying land for bio-fuel and food. Indian companies have also formed a consortium for corporate farming in Latin America. All these land deals and land grabbing have been raising much more questions on land and local economy relations. Most of these countries are said to be in a survival crisis. The changing pattern of land usages in agrarian sector has had a boomerang effect on those countries.

Green economy had been defined earlier as a locally based climate friendly and low input economy but now it is called "payments for ecosystem services" that means to promote mono culture tree plantations, trade in pollination credits, and the speculation markets for bio-diversity and forests. The ultimate impact is to destroy the localized land based agrarian communities.

The so-called "green economy" needs to be replaced with the positive fights of agrarian communities. There is a dangerous move currently towards the "commodification of natural resources." Ecosystem provides trillions of dollars in clean water food production, fertile lands, clean air, pollination and disease control. So, how do the people secure enormously valuable infrastructure and its services the same way they would secure electricity, water, or natural gas—they pay for it. UNEP and World Bank have invented novel ideas for green economy. World Bank says "natural capital accounting would add our GDPs. The wealth stored in our natural resources—minerals before they are mined, forests before they are felled, water while still in the rivers".

This dominant approach needs to be challenged for giving a space for the rural agrarian communities and the survival of the planet. Mother Earth politics and good life concept has been developing from the green crisis. The concept of "green democracy" is now being developed. Many social movements have resulted from the green crisis. This is clearly a positive development which is resulting in a paradigm shift from the earlier era's productivist approach in which human beings are the centre of the universe. The greening of democracy means to reverse the present development model based on unlimited growth and to develop a green mode of life which has to accommodate the concept of "common property resources" for all and not just the egoist motives of consumerist and business interests of the few. An ethical consumption based democratic way of living that reflects in green democracy is the need of the hour.

Vol. 46, No. 29, Jan 26 -Feb 1, 2014

Your Comment if any