Climate Road Trip: An Indian Movement for Change

by Anna da Costa

Anna da Costa, co-director for the India Climate Solutions Project, reports on the launch of the Indian Climate Solutions Road Tour, aimed at catalyzing and inspiring climate change solutions across India.

As clocks ticked past midnight on December 31, signaling the start of the new year, a group of seven passionate individuals from India and around the world gathered in the eastern city of Chennai to begin an epic climate journey.

The team was embarking on a month-long road tour across India to raise awareness about local climate solutions and to empower Indian youth on one of the greatest challenges of our time: global climate change.

Representing an expanding network of youth and young professionals known as the Indian Youth Climate Network (IYCN), the travellers will traverse more than 3,500 kilometers through 20 cities to reach India's capital, Delhi, on February 4. They will be accompanied by a solar-powered electric band, Solar Punch, and will travel in a medley of alternatively powered vehicles, including solar plug-in Reva electric cars, a sustainably produced plant-oil powered truck, a solar-roofed jeep, and a waste vegetable oil-powered van.

The group's message is clear: climate change is real, but many of the solutions to this challenge already exist-with the greatest solution of all being the human capacity to act.

During visits to colleges and schools in each city, the team will conduct structured climate leadership trainings to encourage young people to create solutions in their local communities, envisioning and acting on the future they wish to see. To support communication of solutions, the travellers will document the innovative approaches they encounter, along with additional commentary, on their website. Events held in each city will celebrate local climate solutions, honoring the most inspirational and innovative expressions of this message through dance, music, and art.

The Climate Solutions Road Tour is the first call of its kind to India's youth. It is a positive, collaborative, and questioning search for a future that youth can aspire toward, take a lead on, and be proud of. It is also the launch of IYCN's India Climate Solutions Project, which will continue to highlight some of India's most transformative climate solutions as well as conduct campus-based leadership programs across India moving forward.

The project aims to accelerate the uptake of climate change "best practice" and innovation across sectors in India. It will also provide a forum for dialogue around how to capture low-carbon opportunities most effectively, and to demonstrate that India has a unique opportunity to become a low-carbon leader. Most crucially, such a climate response can support environmental sustainability, economic development, and energy security simultaneously.

With the clear and unflinching international message that 2009 must be a year for change globally, and in the face of the ongoing collapse of the global auto industry, the team is also turning outward and calling on decision makers around the world to seize this unique opportunity to become a low-carbon leader, transforming automobiles to run on zero-carbon systems.

The importance of true international collaboration and a solutions-based climate movement is beyond question. This urgency is particularly great in light of the upcoming Copenhagen climate negotiations in December, where an ambitious, equitable, and effective successor to the Kyoto Protocol needs to be established.

It is clear that we have the potential and opportunity to address the climate crisis, yet there is still a vast gulf between our knowledge and action. The Climate Solutions Road Tour aims to start the year with a cohesive, positive, and impactful call to India and the globe, encouraging us all to be the change we wish to see in the world. 

Updates from the road will be posted daily on the group's Climate Solutions Blog. The trip itinerary is also posted online.