Archive for the tag “Ashish Kothari”

News update

OMG… Greenland’s ice sheets are melting fast
The Guardian UK
An urgent attempt to study the rate at which Greenland’s mighty ice sheets are melting has been launched by Nasa. The aim of the six-year project, called Oceans Melting Greenland (OMG), is to understand how fast the world’s warming seas are now eroding the edges of the island’s vast icecaps. Warming air temperatures are already causing considerable glacier loss there, but the factors involving the sea that laps the bases of its great ice masses, and which is also heating up, are less well understood.

Snatching Defeat
Albert Bates, The Great Change
Last week we concluded our post on climate change with a quote from James Hansen, the matter is urgent and calls for emergency cooperation among nations. All this year we have been leading up to our collective fin de seicle moment in December, the grand denouement of the Framework Convention on Climate Change and Kyoto Protocol in Paris. At this late date, we are frankly pessimistic for the outcome there.

Undamming Rivers: A Chance For New Clean Energy Source
John Waldman & Karin Limburg, Yale Environment 360
Many hydroelectric dams produce modest amounts of power yet do enormous damage to rivers and fish populations. Why not take down these aging structures, build solar farms in the drained reservoirs, and restore the natural ecology of the rivers?

The Devil in Obama’s New Emissions Target for the US Lies in Base Year Details
Vasudevan Mukunth, The Wire
The US’s carbon dioxide emissions peaked in 2005, at 5,828.63 million metric tons. This convenient choice of a base year allows the US a leeway that’s 18.64% higher than its 1990 emissions – 1990 being the year that the Kyoto Protocol uses as a base. The absence of any rules on what can or can’t constitute base years is leveraged by many countries. In Europe, for example, the base year is 1990 because that’s when emissions peaked followed by a steady decline in industrial activity as well as a growing adoption of renewable energy options.

Japan restarts first nuclear reactor since Fukushima disaster
The Guardian UK
Japan has begun a controversial return to nuclear power generation with the restart of a reactor in the country’s south-west, four and a half years after its faith in atomic energy was shattered by the triple meltdown at Fukushima Daiichi. Kyushu Electric Power, the operator of the Sendai plant, said it had restarted one of the facility’s two reactors on Tuesday morning, in defiance of strong local opposition. The move marks the first time Japan has generated nuclear power since a post-Fukushima shutdown of all its 44 operable reactors two years ago.

Space mining is closer than you think, and the prospects are great
Andrew Dempster, The Conversation
Recently, the American cosmologist Neil deGrasse Tyson gushed about the prospects of mining in space, and the benefits that might afford humanity. Is this really plausible? What can we mine in space? And will it really deliver world peace, or just another realm for competition and conflict? Perhaps a look at the immediate past and near future may help us answer some of these questions.

Sustainable development is failing but there are alternatives to capitalism
Ashish Kothari, Federico Demaria and Alberto Acosta, The Guardian UK
In the face of worsening ecological and economic crises and continuing social deprivation, the last two decades have seen two broad trends emerge among those seeking sustainability, equality and justice. First there are the green economy and sustainable development approaches that dominate the upcoming Paris climate summit and the post-2015 sustainable development goals (SDGs). To date, such measures have failed to deliver a harmonisation of economic growth, social welfare and environmental protection. Political ecology paradigms, on the other hand, call for more fundamental changes, challenging the predominance of growth-oriented development based on fossil fuels, neoliberal capitalism and related forms of so-called representative democracy.

In the news: Modi govt and the state of the environment

Outlook Magazine

Mangroves in peril Navi Mumbai airport site

 

How The NDA Is Whittling Down Green Norms

  • Change in definition of no-go area in dense forest, leaving more area open for project
  • Keeping powers with the Centre to even allow projects in ‘no-go areas’ of dense forests
  • Proposal to allow firms to take over afforestation, thus jeopardising the rights of tribals
  • Role of gram sabhas diluted or taken away under blanket consent for development
  • Automatic approval to highway and other defence projects near border areas
  • Moratorium lifted on new projects in several highly polluting industrial areas
  • National Green Tribunal role sought to be diluted by taking away the right to appeal to it

For years the proposal to develop a second airport for Bombay at Navi Mumbai had been awaiting environmental clearance. The issue had been the rivers and the mangroves near the selected site. With one stroke, all the concerns—including the stipulation to create a mangrove san­ctuary—have been brushed aside by the Narendra Modi government. Late last month, Union minister of environment and forests Prakash Javadekar gave the green signal to the project on the condition that the mangroves should be made unattractive for birds, given their potential threat to flying aircraft.

“In effect it would mean destroying the mangroves to stop birds from nesting there,” says Ulka Mahajan, an environment activist. “The intentions are very clear now; it is all only about corporates. The government is happy to wipe out nature.” The move will also destroy fish breeding in the shallow waters of the mangrove.  “It is ridiculous to say you can plant mangroves,” says Girish Raut, environmentalist and expert on mangroves. “It took hundreds and thousands of years for ecosystems to evolve and it takes one project to wipe it out.”

The Navi Mumbai airport project is just one of the many instances that highlight the BJP government’s cavalier attitude toward environment in its desire to speed up mandatory green clearan­ces for projects. Safe­guards for land, water bodies and environment are being carefully dil­u­ted. The policies of the government are steering us to a situation that poses a clear threat to India’s green spaces.

Closely linked to speedy environment clearances for infrastructure and other projects are forest clearances and the proposed land acquisition bill. While the former is being tweaked unmindful of the damage to green belts, the latter is yet another assault on the rights of farmers and tribals who will have little or no say in whosoever wants to acquire their land for setting up an enterprise or infrastructure project.

It reeks of a clear pattern. In an analysis of one year of Modi sarkar, Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) director general Sunita Narain observed that incremental changes have been made to “ease the process” of project clearances. A major cause of concern, according to the think-tank, is the shift in responsibility of project clearances from the Centre to state agencies minus any capacity building or accountability. The states can now take their own decision on thermal power, irrigation, mining and other projects. Also, like many other development experts, the CSE has questioned the dilution of the public hearing process. Political activist M. Kodanda Ram points to the Polavaram dam project in Andhra Pradesh. Work started under UPA rule, despite violations galore—from not seeking public opinion, improper land acquisition to lack of statutory rehabilitation. In 2011, then environment minister Jairam Ramesh withdrew the environment clearance and stalled the project till the reorganisation of states.

“But now the NDA has given the state government indication of support for the completion of the project, though the clearances are still not available,” says Ram. “In this particular case, the damages to the forest and tribals who are going to be displaced is huge.” Both Orissa and Chhattisgarh have filed cases against the project in the Supreme Court.

A preliminary assessment by US-based Rights and Resources Group on the implementation of the Forest Rights Act has found a decided lack of effort to recognise the rights of forest-dwellers. Despite the law having granted traditional forest-dwellers community forest resource (CFR) rights, the study based on government data points out that so far “the total forest area over which CFR rights have been recognised is less than 5,00,000 hectares or barely 1.2 per cent of the CFR rights potential in the country”. Continue reading

Also from Outlook: Make (Money in India) by Ashish Kothari
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had some time back suggested that one solution to climate change is to switch off street lamps on moonlit nights. Really? Encourage polluting industries and coal-based power plants across India, shove aside forests for expressways, and incentivise rapid growth in motorcars … and then compensate all these carbon emissions by switching off street lamps a few nights a year? Who is Mr Modi trying to fool? Read article

From Catchnews.in: How the govt lets green sinners judge themselves
Corporates and governments pushing for projects with environmental consequences hire experts, who study such impacts. Since field visits by the ministry are rare, clearances are granted based exclusively on data from such experts. Over the years, examples of studies with false information, plagiarism, and deliberate underestimation of impacts have become common. These studies, called environmental impact assessments (EIA) are also often marred by conflicts of interest. Read article

 

More video interviews by Mansoor Khan

Here are some more additions to Peak Oil India member Mansoor Khans ongoing series of  video interviews with experts in various fields from ecology to energy to economics. The interviews take off from the themes covered in Mansoors book, The Third Curve: The End of Growth. As We Know It!.

View more videos at: The Third Curve YouTube channel 

Claude Alvarez
Claude Alvares is an environmentalist based in Goa, India. He is the editor of the Other India Press publication based in India and the Director of the Goa Foundation, an environmental monitoring action group. He is a member of the Goa Coastal Zone Management Authority of the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF). and the Supreme Court Monitoring Committee (SCMC) on Hazardous Wastes constituted by the Supreme Court of India.
Read more…

News update

Saudi Arabia’s Plan to Extend the Age of Oil
Peter Waldman, Bloomberg.com
Last Novemeber, Ali al-Naimi, Saudi Arabia’s petroleum minister and the world’s de facto energy czar, told his OPEC counterparts they should maintain output to protect market share from rising supplies of U.S. shale oil, which costs more to get out of the ground and thus becomes less viable as prices fall. Supply was only half the calculus, though. While the new Saudi stance was being trumpeted as a war on shale, Naimi’s not-so-invisible hand pushing prices lower also addressed an even deeper Saudi fear: flagging long-term demand.

OPEC Says US Oil Boom Will End This Year
Oilprice.com
OPEC says the demand for oil – its oil – will rise during 2015 because the cartel is winning its price war against US shale producers by driving them out of business. OPEC forecasts demand at an average of 29.27 million barrels per day in the first quarter 2015, a rise of 80,000 bpd from its previous prediction made in its March report. At the same time, it said, the cartel’s own total output will increase by only 680,000 barrels per day, less than the previous expectation of 850,000 barrels per day, due to lower US and other non-OPEC production.

Guardian Media Group to divest its £800m fund from fossil fuels
The Guardian UK
The Guardian Media Group (GMG) is to sell all the fossil fuel assets in its investment fund of over £800m, making it the largest yet known to pull out of coal, oil and gas companies. The decision was justified on both financial and ethical grounds, said Neil Berkett, GMG chair. Berkett said fossil fuel assets had performed relatively poorly in recent years and were threatened by future climate change action, while an ethical fund already held by GMG had been a “stellar” performer and renewable energy was growing strongly. (Also read: Harvard Students Expand Blockade Calling for School to Divest from Fossil Fuels)

Narendra Modi’s war on the environment
Rohini Mohan, Al Jazeera America
In under a year, the BJP government has begun to undo policies of fair land acquisition, undermine environmental protection and reverse the fight for tribal rights. The finance, environment and rural-development ministers, and Modi himself, have called these safeguards to protect people’s property, the environment and tribal rights “roadblocks” to economic growth. Rules that ensure business responsibility to people and the environment, in other words, are now largely being written off.

India may submit climate change plans in September; Javadekar assures pledges will be submitted in time
The Economic Times
India is likely to submit its plans to tackle climate change, including steps to curb the amount of carbon pollution, in September. Tuesday was the first informal deadline for countries that are able to do so to file their pledges to combat climate change. All countries have agreed to put forward their plans ahead of the crucial Paris meet in December.

PM Narendra Modi launches National Air Quality Index
The Economic Times
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today launched the National Air Quality Index (AQI) for monitoring the quality of air in major urban centres across the country on a real-time basis and enhancing public awareness for taking mitigative action. As part of the endeavour, the Union Environment Ministry proposes to extend the measurement of air quality to 22 state capitals and 44 other cities with a population exceeding one million.

Not In a Hurry to Change Green Laws, Says Environment Minister Praskash Javadekar
NDTV.com
The Centre, which was keen on amending key green laws as early as second half of the budget session, will now reportedly adopt a slower and a more studied approach. This shift in pace, comes after opposition from various state governments at a two day conference of states environment and forest ministers. On agenda was to seek views from the state governments on various environment related issues, including the Subramaniam committee report.

Climate Crisis And Banking
Countercurrents.org
Climate crisis is pushing financial institutions to take steps. Financial institutions with over US$ 2,100 billion in assets publish principles to guide future investments in clean energy and India’s fourth largest private bank fixes goal for investment in 5GW of renewable energy by 2019.

Making Another World Possible Will Require Radical Alternatives – Impressions from the World Social Forum
Ashish Kothari, Degrowth.de
At the Tunis WSF there was some attempt made to host ‘convergence assemblies’ to bring people together, and a final session of open mingling and some common messages, which may be a step towards making it a more transformative process while retaining openness. There was considerable synergy between the movements demanding an end to corporate dominance and impunity, those fighting for climate justice, and women’s movement groups. The language of alternatives from various parts of the world also seemed to get significant traction in the convergence assemblies.

Video: The Third Curve interviews by Mansoor Khan

Peak Oil India member Mansoor Khan has been doing a series of short video interviews with experts in various fields from ecology to energy to economics. The interviews take off from the themes covered in his book, The Third Curve: The End of Growth. As We Know It!. Some of the prominent names interviewed so far are Vandana Shiva, Ashish Kothari and Sunita Narain (featured in the video above), apart from POI members Sagar Dhara, Nagraj Adve and Mihir Mathur. Mansoors YouTube channel also has a short video which neatly summarises the books contents.

Visit The Third Curve YouTube channel 

News update

Could Fighting Global Warming Be Cheap and Free?
Paul Krugman, The New York Times
In his latest column, well-known NYT columnist Krugman attacks, among others, the Post Carbon Institute, a leading think tank on Peak Oil and Climate Change, as wrong-headed and inducing climate despair.  In a piece titled Paul Krugman’s Errors and Omissions the Post Carbon Institutes Richard Heinberg responds to Krugman. Below is prominent Peak Oil writer John Michael Greers rather interesting take on the exchange which, he interprets as a sign that we are approaching a financial crash.

Dark Age America: The Senility of the Elites 
John Michael Greer, The Archdruid Report
When a significant media figure uses one of the world’s major newspapers of record to lash out at a particular band of economic heretics by name, on the other hand, we’ve reached the kind of behavior that only happens, historically speaking, when crunch time is very, very close. Given that we’ve also got a wildly overvalued stock market, falling commodity prices, and a great many other symptoms of drastic economic trouble bearing down on us right now, not to mention the inevitable unraveling of the fracking bubble, there’s a definite chance that the next month or two could see the start of a really spectacular financial crash.

A Hundred Days Closer to Ecological and Social Suicide
Ashish Kothari, The Economic & Political Weekly
The first 100 days of the Narendra Modi government which have been celebrated by the mainstream media saw what can only be called a widespread and large-scale assault on rules, laws and institutions meant to protect the environment, and more is on the cards. Side by side, the central as also state governments of various hues have moved against non-governmental organisations raising social and environmental issues. But resistance to corporate-driven growth continues and alternatives continue to be explored. (Article can be accessed for a limited period only)

Global Warming and the Shifts in Species’ Range in India
Nagaraj Adve (POI member), The Economic & Political Weekly
Global warming and changing rainfall patterns have resulted in shifts or extensions in species range in every terrain, region and ecosystem in India. If it is indicative of a wider unfolding process related to climate change, it would suggest that a staggering number of species in India are moving home. This would adversely affect human habitat as well. (Article can be accessed for a limited period only)

New Study Demonstrates Dramatic, Immediate Energy Shift Needed
Popularresistance.org
Here’s the frightening implication of a landmark study on carbon emissions: By 2018, no new cars, homes, schools, factories, or electrical power plants should be built anywhere in the world, ever again, unless they’re either replacements for old ones or carbon neutral. Otherwise greenhouse gas emissions will push global warming past 2˚C of temperature rise worldwide, threatening the survival of many people currently living on the planet.

Cities Will Solve Climate Change, Not Nations
The Scientific American
Cities now deliver fully three-quarters of global economic activity, totaling more than $50 trillion. And it is citizens of cities who are responsible for at least half of all greenhouse gas pollution—through demand for heating and cooling, food, lighting, entertainment and transportation. As a result, city action (or inaction) on climate change may determine the ultimate outcome of global warming.

Who will feed China?
Earth Policy Institute
China is a leading importer of grain and it imports a staggering 60 percent of all soybeans entering world trade—and it looks like it will continue. The problem is not so much population growth, but China’s rising affluence, which is allowing its population to move up the food chain, consuming more grain-intensive livestock, poultry, and farmed fish. (Also see: collection of links to informative articles at the bottom of the page)

Could This Environmental Risk Derail Americas Oil and Gas Boom?
Fool.com
Americas oil and gas boom has done wonders for energy independence and the economy. However, fracking, which is largely responsible for Americas energy renaissance, has proven to be a highly controversial issue, with environmentalists claiming that it pollutes ground water with large numbers of little-studied chemicals and even causes earthquakes. This article examines this last claim with the aim of detailing how this risk, whether true or perceived, might affect the future of Americas oil and gas boom.

Rockefellers, Heirs to an Oil Fortune, Will Divest Charity of Fossil Fuels
The New York Times
John D. Rockefeller built a vast fortune on oil. Now his heirs are abandoning fossil fuels. The family whose legendary wealth flowed from Standard Oil is planning to announce on Monday that its $860 million philanthropic organization, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, is joining the divestment movement that began a couple years ago on college campuses.

Symposium: Growth, green growth or degrowth?

Growth, green growth or degrowth?
New critical directions for Indias sustainability

Date: September 12 & 13 (Friday and Saturday)
Venue: Magnolia room, Habitat World, India Habitat Centre, Lodhi Road, New Delhi
Organizers: Rajeswari S. Raina, CSIR-NISTADS, & Julien-François Gerber, TERI University
Sponsors: Ford Foundation, ICSSR, and Indian Society for Ecological Economics

The symposium will be articulated around three broad questions:

1. Does the Indian economy need to grow further? Is growth per se a meaningful parameter? What are the other parameters (differentiated by space, class, demographic or cultural features) that can be used meaningfully in India? PANELISTS: Jean Drèze (on what should grow/degrow in the Indian economy), Vandana Shiva (on a critique of capitalist growth and on alternatives), Ajay Dandekar (on an historical overview of conventional growth in India).

2. What should be understood by green growth? Is it an oxymoron? How can we go beyond the current single focus on modern green technologies as the way to reach sustainability? Why do economists (even enlightened ones like Nick Stern) always turn to technologies instead of talking about norms, values or politics that would enable sustainability? PANELISTS: Kanchan Chopra (on green growth), Mansoor Khan (on the biophysical limits to growth), Rohan DSouza (on the history and ambiguities of green growth in India, e.g. through renewable energy mega-projects).

3. What are the alternatives to growth (green or not)? Couldnt prosperity without growth become a rallying slogan for myriads of grassroots alternatives that are already present and often isolated and under threat, especially in the rural world? How could this slogan be applied to the Indian context? PANELISTS: Ashish Kothari (on the orchestration of alternatives), Aditya Nigam (on linking environmental and socialist movements around degrowth), Sagar Dhara (on the energy and material basis of alternatives).

Download a concept note on the Symposium.

For more information, contact:
Rajeswari S. Raina (NISTADS‐CSIRR),  sairia.o
Julien‐François Gerber (TERI University), julienfrancoisgerber@gmail.com

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