An excerpt from Sir Mark Tully’s Friday Forum lecture delivered on March 11

RIGSS: South Asia need not learn and live the western way of consumerism concentrating on the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth and neglecting the importance about climate change. South Asia does need to take climate change seriously.

This is the message Sir William Mark Tully highlighted in his lecture on “Climate Change- The Need for New Lifestyles in the South Asia Context” during the Friday Forum lecture on March 11, which was graced by His Majesty The King.

Stressing the developing nations’ rush to consumerism and GDP growth of the Western culture, Sir William Mark Tully also warned Bhutan and its neighbours India and Bangladesh of the risks if climate change was not taken seriously.

Sir William Mark Tully said personally he does not support those who try and argue there is no need to worry about climate change.

“I challenge them that there are so many other scientists who believe that climate change is taking place,” he said. “Climate change is an opportunity to understand that we cannot go on living as we are doing today.”

The veteran journalist said people must change lifestyles. “Consumption leads to consumerism—it is the western style of living believing there is no growth without consumerism,” he said.

“Consumerism is the engine of growth in economy and it is ‘greed’ that is the engine of consumerism,” Sir William Mark Tully said. “The problem with the greed is that it has no end and it makes you unhappy.”

One of the greatest hurdles that stand in the way of understanding climate change, according to the freelance journalist is people’s belief that there is no alternative to the market economics practiced today based on GDP measurement. Developed countries are not admitting that they have got it wrong, while a developing country thinking the developed countries were successful because of consumerism and GDP measures is wrong.

“Gross National Happiness seems step to the right direction,” Sir William Mark Tully said, explaining the pressure on nature would be reduced with less consumerism. “Living more friendly and less demanding to nature is likely to produce less climate warning.”

South Asia, he said, is a large proportion of the world with huge population that may have to face major problems if climate change risks are neglected. While Bhutan would be impacted, the former BBC Bureau Chief also specified the risks Bangladesh would have to experience from glacial outbursts in Bhutan.

“Bangladesh will lose large areas of its land,” Sir William Mark Tully said.

He reminded of how tsunami incident threatened people living on the coasts of India. Given the large population size and acute shortage of land in India and Bangladesh, a large-scale migration is a possibility that cannot be ignored. “The effect of climate change in one country is bound to have ripple effect on other countries of South Asia.”

On the United Nations Climate Change Conference (UNCCC), 2015, held in Paris last year, Sir William Mark Tully said that although it was a successful conference, there are concerns that the bar, to reduce global warming by an average of two degree Celsius by 2030 was set far too low.

Even if the agreement reached in Paris was accomplished, there is no certainty or guarantee that everyone will attain or stick to the agreement. More than 190 nations reached a global agreement on the climate change reduction in December 2015.

Sir William Mark Tully pointed that the fund was not put on the table to assist smaller and poorer countries that needed to buy technology to reduce emission. Lifestyle change, which was the most important element to climate change, was not in the agenda.

Rajesh Rai, Phuentsholing