Canadian journalist Donna Laframboise. Former National Post & Toronto Star columnist, past vice president of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.
Sustainable. That word is everywhere these days. So is Rajendra Pachauri, the discredited chairman of the discredited Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). This week he’s in India for the 12th Delhi Sustainable Development Summit, which begins on Thursday.
The summit is organized by TERI, an institute led by Pachauri. In other words, he isn’t merely a guest at this event. He’s the conductor of the orchestra. This is his show.
Which is why it’s so eye-popping that it’s taking place in an over-the-top, five-star hotel that’s described this way:
Taj Palace Hotel, New Delhi offers guests a choice of Deluxe Rooms and Luxury Rooms. All guestrooms are luxuriously appointed with central air conditioning, these rooms measure 304 square feet and feature luxuriously large bathrooms. [bold added]
Now I like opulent hotel rooms and spacious bathrooms as much as the next person, but I don’t make a habit of scolding the rest of humanity about how unsustainable their lifestyles are. I don’t go around telling other people that they should change their values. Pachauri, on the other hand, does.
A UK newspaper quoted him, in late 2009, declaring:
“Today we have reached the point where consumption and people’s desire to consume has grown out of proportion,” said Pachauri. “The reality is that our lifestyles are unsustainable.” [backup link]
According to that news report, Pachauri believes
Hotel guests should have their electricity monitored; hefty aviation taxes should be introduced to deter people from flying; and iced water in restaurants should be curtailed…
A few months prior Pachauri told a magazine:
First, we need to reorient our value systems. We need to start feeling responsible for our own individual carbon footprints…The thermostat for air conditioning or heating being kept at a level where you feel some degree of discomfort. [backup link]
The Foundation for Democracy and Sustainable Development reports that, at an earlier sustainability conference, Pachauri used his closing remarks to declare that individual citizens must behave in a responsible manner and that:
leadership through lifestyle choice and modest consumption are important at every level. [backup link]
So where is this leadership? Which part of modest consumption includes three-day extravaganzas at five-star hotels?
I think these are valid questions. I also think it’s fanciful to imagine that the media partners for this event – which include the Financial Times, The Times of India, and Google – will be asking them.
The Norwegian Embassy, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland, the Swiss Embassy, and the government of Quebec are all official sponsors of this conference.
Heads of state, government ministers, a Nobel laureate, UN officials, the US head of the Sierra Club, the director general of the Finnish Meteorological Institute, and Arnold Schwarzenegger will all be traveling on fossil-fueled airplanes in order to attend it.
Aren’t you so relieved to hear that, after they’ve all gathered together in that opulent facility in that exotic locale, one of the big topics of discussion will be everyone else’s destructive lifestyle? Did none of these people read the summit website and realize that they look like five-star hypocrites?
No individual, organization, or nation-state has the “right” to damage [the environment]. Attention needs to be focused on reducing the pressure on global commons that is being generated by unsustainable lifestyles and consumption patterns…