May 27, 2008 / ENERGY GLOBE Award
Interview with Maneka Ghandi
Q: What are the main problems that the world faces on the environment?
The main problem is governments who will not take policy decisions because they are afraid of the electoral consequences, so they'd rather go to hell than be out of power (which they don't have to be, because their own people are not stupid, they underestimate them). Secondly, it is population growth: when I was born there were 1 billion people on this planet. I am 51 years old now and there are 7 billion people, with higher aspirations, all of which are resource intensive. When there were 1 billion people not all of them wanted private jets, submarines, Prada clothes, 25 different kinds of shoes, trips etc.
Q: Do emerging countries have a "moral right" to pollute?
There is no "moral right". It doesn't matter who does it first or who second, we are all going to die together. When America, Germany and Japan - the three biggest polluters - were developing, there were no alternatives. Now, India, China and the rest of the world have thousands of alternatives to which we can switch without necessarily spending much money.
Q: What can individuals do to prevent global warming?
One might say "I'm not going to drive my car at the weekend", someone else might say something else, but the point is that we need to mainstream some of these individual steps. If the government says that nobody can drive their cars on Sundays, then everybody - including rich people - have to take the bus. This will also make buses better and it might make people think "if I can do it on Sunday, then I can do it on Monday and Tuesday and so on".
Q: What alternative sources of energy do you see to oil?
My country is bleeding every day, because we cannot afford this 132 price (for oil) -which by next week will be 135 and the week after might be 140 - and this money is coming out of my food, my buses, my schools and my life. So we have to quickly move to a "post-oil world". Each village should be an independent energy maker and user: once you do that - be it with biofuel, solar or wind energy - you immediately stop wasting energy and have less pollution.