Can Narain’s Tribute to D’Monte Ignite an Environmental Awakening? Insights from Mumbai’s Lecture

March 7, 2024
1 min read
Sunita Narain's tribute to D'Monte at Mumbai's lecture could signal a pivotal moment for environmental activism.
Sunita Narain's tribute to D'Monte at Mumbai's lecture could signal a pivotal moment for environmental activism. Photo Credit: Down to Earth (X aka Twitter)

When environmental protection and ecological balance were not as widely discussed, Darryl D’Monte championed nature conservation through his editorial work at newspapers like the Times of India and Indian Express. In his memory, an annual lecture series is held in Mumbai, his hometown.

The second lecture was delivered by the renowned environmentalist Sunita Narain, Director General of the Center for Science and Environment (CSE), which was founded by ecologist Anil Agarwal. During the event, Narain reflected on the 1980s discussions between D’Monte and Agarwal on achieving a balance between development and environmental protection. Speaking at the Marathi Patrakar Sangh auditorium, she presented on “Climate Change in the Increasingly Unequal and Polarised World: The Future Agenda for Action,” noting that finding the answer to balancing development and environmental protection is still a work in progress.

The inaugural Darryl D’Monte memorial lecture took place in 2023, featuring environmental economist Pavan Sukhdev. Narain highlighted the critical threshold of a 1.5-degree Celsius temperature rise set by scientists, beyond which catastrophic effects are expected. She emphasized the unequal carbon emissions distribution, with 30% of the world’s population having exhausted 70% of the available carbon budget, leaving countries like India in need of a different development model.

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Narain pointed out several key areas for action, including ensuring clean air, which she described as a “great equalizer,” underscoring that pollution affects everyone regardless of wealth. She also discussed the necessity for changes in mobility, recalling CSE’s efforts in the early 2000s to shift nearly 100,000 vehicles in Delhi from diesel to Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) to reduce emissions. She contrasted this swift action with the slower pace of electric vehicle adoption in Mumbai and other areas, suggesting mandates for electric vehicle conversion or increased parking charges to discourage private car use.

Addressing the continued reliance on coal in Mumbai’s industries, Narain questioned why there wasn’t a more significant push towards cleaner gas by reducing costs. She argued for more significant, systemic changes over incremental ones, advocating for environmentally friendlier practices for the benefit of all. Despite the challenges, such as the ineffective waste segregation exacerbated by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) flawed garbage disposal system, Narain stressed the importance of pursuing these environmental goals.

Govind Tekale

Embarking on a new journey post-retirement, Govind, once a dedicated teacher, has transformed his enduring passion for current affairs and general knowledge into a conduit for expression through writing. His historical love affair with reading, which borders on addiction, has evolved into a medium to articulate his thoughts and disseminate vital information. Govind pens down his insights on a myriad of crucial topics, including the environment, wildlife, energy, sustainability, and health, weaving through every aspect that is quintessential for both our existence and that of our planet. His writings not only mirror his profound understanding and curiosity but also serve as a valuable resource, offering a deep dive into issues that are critical to our collective future and well-being.

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