Archive for the category “India”

India’s Energy Crisis

Can India modernize its manufacturing economy and supply electricity to its growing population without relying heavily on coal—and quite possibly destroying the global climate?

India_2x1128

Richard Martin, Technology Review

An old man wakes on the floor of a hut in a village in southern India. He is wrapped in a thin cotton blanket. Beside him, music wails softly on a transistor radio. A small wood fire smolders on the floor, filling the space with a light haze; above it,the bamboo timbers of the hut’s roof are charred to a glossy black.

The man’s name is Mallaiah Tokala, and he is the headman of Appapur village, in the Amrabad Tiger Reserve in Telangana state. On his forehead he wears the vibhuti, the sacred daub of white ash. He is uncertain of his exact age, but he is well into his 10th decade. He has lived in this village his whole life, a period that encompasses the tumultuous 20th-century history of India: the rise of Gandhi, the Salt March, the end of the Raj and the coming of independence, Partition and the bloodshed that followed, the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi and the dawning of a new era of sectarian violence and terrorism. And now he has lived long enough to witness the coming of electricity to Appapur, in the form of solar-powered lights and TVs and radios. Read more…

News update

5 reasons why Tibet’s melting ice is a disaster for India, Europe and US
Nihar Gokhale, Catch News
Did you know that rivers originating in Tibet’s glaciers supply water to 1.3 billion people? That’s equivalent to the entire population of India. But these glaciers are fast disappearing due to global warming. Tibet’s sustainability is crucial for sustenance of the world, but this fact is not commonly known. The glaciers are just the tip of the iceberg.

The Gulf will soon be too hot for human beings – literally
Scroll.in
A study by Jeremy S Pal and Elfatih AB Eltahir of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology finds that human beings will not be able to survive in the Gulf just 65 years from now. “Our results expose a specific regional hot spot where climate change, in the absence of significant mitigation, is likely to severely impact human habitability in the future,” the study, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, said.

World set to use more energy for cooling than heating
The Guardian UK
The world faces a looming and potentially calamitous “cold crunch”, with demand for air conditioning and refrigeration growing so fast that it threatens to smash pledges and targets for global warming. Worldwide power consumption for air conditioning alone is forecast to surge 33-fold by 2100 as developing world incomes rise and urbanisation advances. Already, the US uses as much electricity to keep buildings cool as the whole of Africa uses on everything; China and India are fast catching up. By mid-century people will use more energy for cooling than heating (Also read: How America became addicted to air conditioning).

The Rapid and Startling Decline Of World’s Vast Boreal Forests
Jim Robbins, Yale Environment 360
Scientists are becoming increasingly concerned about the fate of the huge boreal forest that spans from Scandinavia to northern Canada. Unprecedented warming in the region is jeopardizing the future of a critical ecosystem that makes up nearly a third of the earth’s forest cover. (Also read: Why have thousands of trees dropped dead in New South Wales?)

How our energy problem leads to a debt collapse problem
Gail Tverberg
Usually, we don’t stop to think about how the whole economy works together. A major reason is that we have been lacking data to see long-term relationships. In this post, I show some longer-term time series relating to energy growth, GDP growth, and debt growth–going back to 1820 in some cases–that help us understand our situation better.

What happened to peak oil? The cycle of a meme and of its
Ugo Bardi
Unlike Nibiru or the E-Cat, peak oil is a serious concept, backed up by a lot of research. However, it didn’t really get viral enough to become a mainstream meme. The main problem, here, may have been the choice of the term: “peak oil” conjures a specific moment in time when something exceptional should happen, even though it is not clear what. When people saw that nothing special was happening, they lost interest. The decline of the peak oil meme was helped by the anti-memetic system that created effective antimemes such as “they have been predicting peak oil already for 30 years ago.”

Money Cannot Manufacture Resources (Podcast)
Kurt Cobb
As any fourth grader will tell you, a finite system will not yield unlimited resources. But that perspective is not shared by those controlling the printing presses. And so they print and print and print, yet remain flummoxed when supply (and increasingly, demand for that matter) does not increase the way they expect.

The Passing of Bhaskar Save: What The ‘Green Revolution’ Did for India
Colin Todhunter, Countercurrents.org
Masanobu Fukuoka, the legendary Japanese organic farmer once described Bhaskar Hiraji Save’s farm as “the best in the world, even better than my own!” By using traditional methods, he demonstrated on his farm that yield is superior to any farm using chemicals in terms of overall quantity, nutritional quality, taste, biological diversity, ecological sustainability, water conservation, energy efficiency and economic profitability. Bhaskar Save died on 24 October 2018 at age 93.

Credit Suisse: Richest 1% own 53% of India’s wealth

According to Credit Suisse, India’s wealth increased by $2.284 trillion between 2000 and 2018. Of this rise, the richest 1% has hogged 61%

Manas Chakravarty, Live Mint Graphic by Prajakta Patil/Mint

The richest 1% of Indians own 53% of the country’s wealth, according to the latest data on global wealth from Credit Suisse. The richest 5% own 68.6% of the country’s wealth, while the top 10% have 76.3%. At the other end of the pyramid, the poorer half of our countrymen jostles for 4.1% of the nation’s wealth. As Deng Xiaoping put it so pithily, “It is glorious to be rich.”

What’s more, things are getting more and more glorious for the rich. Data from Credit Suisse show that India’s richest 1% owned just 36.8% of the country’s wealth in 2000, while the share of the top 10% was 65.9%. Since then the richest have managed to steadily increase their share of the pie, as the chart shows. This happened during the years of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government from 2000-04, during the first United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government backed by the Left, during the second UPA tenure and now in the first year of the Modi government; the share of the top 1% has now crossed 50%. The colour of the government has been no impediment to the steady rise in the riches of the wealthy.

The chart shows that the difference between the share of the top 1% and that of the top 10% was 29.1 percentage points in 2000, but is down to 23.3 percentage points in 2018. In other words, the top 1% is eating into the share of the next 9%. The richest are growing at the expense of the relatively well-off. Between 2010 and 2018, the share of the poorer half of the population shrank from 5.3% to 4.1%.

According to Credit Suisse, India’s wealth increased by $2.284 trillion between 2000 and 2018. Of this rise, the richest 1% has hogged 61%, while the top 10% bagged 81%. The other 90% got the leftovers.

The share of India’s richest 1% is far ahead than that of top 1% of the US, who own a mere 37.3% of the total US wealth. But India’s finest still have a long way to go before they match Russia, where the top 1% own a stupendous 70.3% of the country’s wealth.

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Download Credit Suisse Global Wealth Databook 2018 

E-book: Water warriors – Stories on people and their relationship with water

The stories in this yearbook highlight efforts by rural and urban communities across India to take back ownership of their water resources.

India Water Portal

Prayers on the bank of the Kshipra

Prayers on the bank of the Kshipra

Water sustains lives and livelihoods. It is a precious and finite resource that, in future years, is likely to become the main bone of contention between peoples, states and nations. Water – like every other finite resource – needs sustainable and equitable management, with equal focus on reducing demand, recycling and finding alternatives, as well as the usual emphasis on supply solutions.

While alarms are regularly raised over its increasing scarcity, water is largely seen as a matter of state regulation and governance, and is affected by large-scale issues such as privatisation, industrial and human pollution, and corruption.

‘Water warriors – Stories on people and their relationship with water’ presents the issue of water from the perspective of local communities, based on the premise that water is a very local issue that affects the lives of people everywhere, every day. The stories in this yearbook highlight efforts by rural and urban communities across India – in as far off regions as Umananda island in Assam, Amatikra in Chhattisgarh, Bengaluru in Karnataka, and Dhanukshkodi in Tamil Nadu – to take back ownership of their water resources.

These stories first appeared on the India Water Portal in English, Hindi and Kannada. This book showcases the best content from the Portal since its inception.

Download a copy of the book 

Series: INDCs and the road to Paris – 1

(Note: India’s Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC), its eagerly awaited promise of action to counter climate change ahead of the Paris climate talks this year, was released earlier this month. Starting with this one, we present a series of posts that look at whether India’s pledge is all its claimed to be. In this post, we present some of the initial coverage of the pledge that summarises its contents and a guide to understanding the importance of INDCs, apart from India’s INDC document itself)

Full text of India’s INDC

A concise summary of India’s INDCs: India Announces New Climate Targets

A primer on INDCs and what they imply, read: Adding up INDCs: what country commitments could mean for climate change

ANALYSES

India’s INDC is fair, and its renewable energy and forestry targets are ambitious, says CSE
CSE India
India’s INDC reflects its development challenges, aspirations and the realities of climate change. India’s renewable energy target is more ambitious than that of the US. India’s emission intensity target is exactly similar to that of China’s. About 85 per cent of countries have submitted their INDCs. Their collective pledges are not in line with keeping the world within the safe 2°C temperature rise target.

 5 Key Takeaways from India’s New Climate Plan
World Resources Institute
As the world’s third-largest emitter and a country that’s highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, it is encouraging to witness India invest in actions to tackle climate change while addressing critical issues such as poverty, food security and access to healthcare and education.

India’s climate pledge: keeping promises will be a tall order
Nihar Gokhale, Catch News
While it is true that much of the climate action plan depends on getting money and technology from abroad, some of the activities are urgent. Of the total cost, about $206 billion will be needed for just dealing with the adverse impacts of climate change, known in climate jargon as ‘adaptation’. Whether or not India actually spends on renewable energy, this is a cost it must bear. This includes saving its people from vagaries of rainfall, sudden and extreme events like cyclones, and in maintaining water security amidst a warming world.

India’s first step towards climate solution is good, but it has miles to go on a complex road
Rohini Mohan, The Economic Media
International climate change watchers have praised India’s INDC for being superior to many other countries, even though it only contributed to 4 per cent of historical emissions. They are not legally binding, but the sustainability language and low carbon targets show a major leap in India’s recent willingness to act against climate change. The domestic strategies to meet the targets, however, tell a more complex story. Even as India talks of low-emissions plans, it continues high-emission growth, and is unlikely to stop soon. Whether or not technological solutions and renewables achieve total emission cuts in the long run, without a core shift in approach, India will be chasing a moving goal.

News update

‘Capitalism is Mother Earth’s Cancer’: World People’s Summit Issues 12 Demands
Common Dreams
Decrying capitalism as a “threat to life,” an estimated 7,000 environmentalists, farmers, and Indigenous activists from 40 countries convened in the Bolivian town of Tiquipaya for this weekend’s World People’s Conference on Climate Change, aiming to elevate the demands of social movements and developing countries in the lead-up to upcoming United Nations-led climate talks. “Capitalism is Mother Earth’s cancer,” Bolivian President Evo Morales told the crowd, which also heard over the course of the three-day conference from United Nations Secretary-General Ban ki-Moon as well as other Latin American leaders.

Why Earth’s future will depend on how we build our cities
Chris Mooney, The Washington Post
It may be the most important number on Earth: 1,000 gigatons. That’s roughly how much carbon dioxide humanity has left to emit, scientists say, in order to have a two-thirds chance of keeping global warming below 2 degrees Celsius above the temperature in pre-industrial times — and thus, staying within what has often been deemed a “safe” climate threshold. A new report, though, finds that if we don’t build cities more wisely, using much greener infrastructure, then they could be a crucial factor that tips the planet over the 1,000 gigaton line — and indeed, that they could play this role in just five years time.

Europe’s greenhouse gas emissions fall to record low
The Guardian UK
Greenhouse gas emissions in Europe have plunged to the lowest level ever recorded after the EU’s member states reported an estimated 23% drop in emissions between 1990 and 2014. The bloc has now overshot its target for 2020 of cutting emissions by one-fifth – at the same time that its economy grew by 46%, according to the EU’s climate chief, Miguel Arias Canete .

Integrated Energy Policy Formulated To Boost The Energy Sector
Mondaq.com
In order to provide a collective policy covering all sources of energy including renewable energy sources, the Government of India has formulated an Integrated Energy Policy. The said policy outlines a roadmap to develop energy supply options and increased exploitation of renewable energy sources. The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy aims at a capacity addition of about 30,000 MW power during the 12th Five Year Plan from the various renewable energy sources available in the country.

16 commercial building spaces can save 8,960 Mwh/year: TERI Study
The Economic Times
Sixteen commercial building spaces, including that of Wipro, Tata ChemicalsBSE 0.57 % and Genpact, have the potential to save 8,960 megawatt hours a year, which is sufficient to power 2,400 rural homes, says a study. Energy saving in 100 such buildings can power more than 12,000 rural homes, stated a energy audit report of 16 commercial buildings across the country by The TERI Centre of Excellence, launched by The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) and United Technologies Corp (UTC) in 2014.

India’s coal-fueled economy taking a toll on environment and rural villagers
LA Times
In central India’s coal-rich Singrauli district, recently labeled one of the country’s most polluted areas, residents and activists have long complained that abuses by energy companies go unpunished. “Each and every company is violating environmental norms, including Sasan,” said Ashwani Kumar Dubey, a Singrauli resident and lawyer who has challenged the coal industry in India’s Supreme Court. “But nothing happens because these companies run the economy of the country.”

India’s climate tech revolution is starting in its villages
The Guardian UK
Solar panels drive a water pump that irrigates the fields of farmer Raman Bhai Parmar, 65, who grows bananas, rice and wheat on seven acres of land. Parmar’s solar energy pump is one of the technologies being promoted by a new project designed to help rural Indians adapt to climate change. The project, run by the international NGO, aims to create 1,000 so-called climate smart villages across six Indian states including Haryana, Punjab and Gujarat.

A nomads’ legend keeps the Indian wolf alive: An unconventional conservation story
Scroll.in
Unlike local farmers and herders, the nomads never chased, hunted or hurt the wolves. The filmmakers soon uncovered a legend of three brothers, one of whom is cheated out of his share by the other two. He leaves but not before bestowing a curse that he would come back to claim his due. The tribesmen consider the wolf to be that brother, returning to take what’s rightfully his. It’s possible that this fraternal feeling between tribe and wolf saved Bent Ear and his family.

Report on food security and climate change adaptation

Scaling Success: Lessons from Adaptation Pilots in the Rainfed Regions of India

wriNations around the world have recognized that the adverse effects of climate variations and change have a significant bearing on the food, water and livelihood security of millions of people. Greatest risks persist in economically less developed countries, where people’s lives and livelihoods are highly vulnerable to stressors such as erratic rainfall, droughts, floods or cyclones. The poor communities are most disadvantaged, having little capacity to cope with changing climatic conditions, due to limited financial and often also technical means. The impact of climate change will presumably be particularly severe in rainfed areas, which constitute about 80 per cent of the cultivated land, producing about 65 to 70 percent of staple foods worldwide despite unsecure water availability.

In response to such climate change related challenges, many remarkable adaptation projects are being implemented, generating widespread interest among practitioners, policy makers and development agencies. Despite the growing interest in these experiences, they often remain individual, stand-alone initiatives. The need to rapidly scale up effective climate change adaptation interventions, through favorable policy frameworks and concrete action, is widely recognized. However, the challenge that we face is in identifying the elements that are necessary for successful scaling up of adaptation interventions.

As the climate continues to change, the capacity to iteratively adjust and learn – both at the policy level and in the course of implementation will be central to adaptation success. In this context, SDC is collaborating with the World Resources Institute (WRI) and the Watershed Organisation Trust (WOTR) for an initiative on ‘Scaling up Good Adaptation Practices’ (SUGAP) in India.

This initiative was borne out of a need to understand the relevance of adaptation and resilience in the semi-arid context in India through focused case study research. The study Scaling Success: Lessons from Adaptation Pilots in the Rainfed Regions of India provides a synthesis of good practices and hands-on recommendations to practitioners, policy makers and funding agencies for identifying and scaling up effective adaptation interventions.

Download report: Scaling Success (pdf)

Curbing Consumption is the Only Way Out to Avoid Climate Change

Finding new ways to continue with the same model of growth and consumption will put enormous pressure on finite resources

Swati Agarwal & Mihir Mathur, The Wire

Pollution generating cars in Delhi that contribute to global warming. (Photo: Deepak)

Pollution generating cars in Delhi that contribute to global warming. (Photo: Deepak)

With two major conferences this year on the deeply integrated issues of climate change (to be held in Paris) and sustainable development (that took place in UNGA, New York) under the United Nations Framework, discussions are taking place globally on the transformation of economies and the role of technology in achieving these goals. The international community on climate change is strongly pushing the agenda of deep de-carbonization for the global economy in order to meet the challenge of restricting temperature increase to 2 degree Celsius.

The assumption seems to be that this transition will be achieved primarily through the transition of economies towards renewable energy, energy efficiency and through afforestation. Technology and innovation are being touted as the two powerful drivers that will help achieve low carbon growth in the context of climate change. This is the vaunted ‘sustainable development’ that has filled the headlines, but recent research by the authors show that, this scenario is based on assumptions that do not bear scrutiny. Read more…

News update

World will pass crucial 2C global warming limit, experts warn
The Guardian UK
Pledges by nations to cut carbon emissions will fall far short of those needed to prevent global temperatures rising by more than the crucial 2C by the end of the century. This is the stark conclusion of climate experts who have analysed submissions in the runup to the Paris climate talks later this year. A rise of 2C is considered the most the Earth could tolerate without risking catastrophic changes to food production, sea levels, fishing, wildlife, deserts and water reserves. Even if rises are pegged at 2C, scientists say this will still destroy most coral reefs and glaciers and melt significant parts of the Greenland ice cap, bringing major rises in sea levels.

Climate Change “Tipping Points” and the Fate of the Earth
Michael T. Klare, Tom Dispatch
Not so long ago, it was science fiction. Now, it’s hard science — and that should frighten us all. The latest reports from the prestigious and sober Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) make increasingly hair-raising reading, suggesting that the planet is approaching possible moments of irreversible damage in a fashion and at a speed that had not been anticipated. Scientists have long worried that climate change will not continue to advance in a “linear” fashion, with the planet getting a little bit hotter most years.  Instead, they fear, humanity could someday experience “non-linear” climate shifts (also known as “singularities” or “tipping points”) after which there would be sudden and irreversible change of a catastrophic nature.

Inadequate attempts by US to combat climate change shifted burden to India: CSE
Livemint.com
Inadequate attempts by the US to combat climate change have shifted the major burden of battling it to countries like India, the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) said, calling American promises ‘much ado about nothing’. In a report released on Wednesday, CSE, a noted environment think-tank in India, termed US’s Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) as just ‘business-as-usual’. The study said the energy system in the US would remain fossil fuel dependent, with 76% of total primary energy coming from fossil fuels in 2030 while renewables will contribute just 15%, up from the current 11%. (Also read, CSE press release: ‘Capitan America’ and its climate promises: Much ado about nothing)

Southeast Asia’s energy demand to grow by 80 per cent in 2040: IEA
Down to Earth
Southeast Asia’s demand for energy is projected to grow by 80 per cent to just under 1,100 million tonnes of oil in 2040, according to a report by the International Energy Agency (IEA). The share of fossil fuels in the energy mix of the region is expected to rise from 74 per cent in 2013 to 78 per cent in 2040, the report titled “Southeast Asia Energy Outlook 2018” said.

Elon Musk says the current refugee crisis is just a glimpse of what’s to come if world ignores climate change
Tech Insider
Billionaire visionary Elon Musk painted a bleak picture of the future on Wednesday when he said the current refugee crisis is just a glimpse of what we can expect if nothing is done to address climate change. “Today’s refugee problem is perhaps a small indication of what the future will be like if we do not take action with respect to climate change,” Musk said during his opening remarks at a business seminar.

World’s oceans facing biggest coral die-off in history, scientists warn
The Guardian UK
Scientists have confirmed the third-ever global bleaching of coral reefs is under way and warned it could see the biggest coral die-off in history. Since 2014, a massive underwater heatwave, driven by climate change, has caused corals to lose their brilliance and die in every ocean. By the end of this year 38% of the world’s reefs will have been affected. About 5% will have died forever. But with a very strong El Niño driving record global temperatures and a huge patch of hot water, known as “the Blob”, hanging obstinately in the north-western Pacific, things look far worse again for 2016. (Also read: Coral reefs are not just pretty – they are vital to life)

Oil and the Global Economy
Jan Mueller, Jim Hansen, Stephen P.A. Brown, – The Energy Xchange
The remarkable economic expansion of in the United States and other industrial nations over the past century or more has been fueled by a steadily growing supply of low-cost energy—mostly from fossil fuels—oil in particular which accounts for more global energy consumption than any other source.
But there is growing uncertainty whether this trend will continue as it has in the past. How will shifting trends regarding the cost, demand, and supply for oil affect the global economy and the outlook for investment and economic growth?

The Peak Oil Story We Have Been Told Is Wrong
Gail Tverberg
Most people believe that low oil prices are good for the United States, since the discretionary income of consumers will rise. There is the added benefit that Peak Oil must be far off in the distance, since “Peak Oilers” talked about high oil prices. Thus, low oil prices are an all-round benefit. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. The Peak Oil story we have been told is wrong. The collapse in oil production comes from oil prices that are too low, not too high. If oil prices or prices of other commodities are too low, production will slow and eventually stop. Growth in the world economy will slow, lowering inflation rates as well as economic growth rates.

Anna Swaraj: The only way we can rescue Indian farmers from debt and suicide
Vandana Shiva, Scroll.in
After the crash of the Green Revolution dream, the loss of this season’s cotton is the second big blow to Punjab’s farmers. Stemming from the failure of genetically modified cotton crops, it makes clear again that genetically modified organisms and chemical pesticides are ineffective at pest control. Scientific studies worldwide prove that their use has birthed super weeds and pests – and yet state governments in India continue to promote their excessive use and subsidise them. (Also read: How 18 villages in Haryana kept the whitefly attack on cotton away)

Means of transport to be switched to electric mode in 2 years: Gadkari
Business Standard
In a bid to cut oil import bill and mitigate pollution, the government is working on an ambitious project to switch diesel and petrol-run vehicles across the country to electric mode in two years, Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari said on Thursday. “Our scientists have made cost-effective, made-in-India lithium-ion battery (rechargeable) which will be extensively used to convert all means of transport to electric mode,” the minister said here at a function organized by the Indian Women’s Press Corps (IWPC).

One Scientist’s Hopeful View On How to Repair the Planet
Yale Environment 360
For a researcher who studies how humanity is pushing the earth close to potentially disastrous tipping points, Johan Rockström is surprisingly optimistic. Although he reckons that our species has crossed four of nine “planetary boundaries” — including those on climate change and deforestation — he believes there is still time to pull back from the brink and create a sustainable future based on renewable energy and a “circular” economy that continually reuses resources.

Shankar Sharma: High GDP growth centred paradigm and GHG emissions

Shankar Sharma, ORF Energy News Monitor

Whereas many conventional economic analysts argue that in order to have adequate human development index the country’s economy has to grow continuously at an appreciable rate, a densely populated and resource constrained society such as ours cannot afford to ignore the implications of high energy / material consumption (which will be a consequence of high growth of the economy). As the table below indicates, whereas the economy will grow by 300% in 36 years at Compounded Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 4%, it takes only 18 years to grow the economy by 400% at 10% CAGR. In this context it is essential to address the question how much energy / material consumption increase is considered acceptable?

Time taken for economy to get multiplied at constant CAGR

Read more…

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