Archive for the tag “Climate Change”

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?

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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…

Special: Institutions are pulling out investments worth billions from fossil fuels

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What is fossil fuel divestment?
Divestment is the opposite of investment – it is the removal of your investment capital from stocks, bonds or funds. The global movement for fossil fuel divestment (sometimes also called disinvestment) is asking institutions to move their money out of oil, coal and gas companies for both moral and financial reasons. These institutions include universities, religious institutions, pension funds, local authorities and charitable foundations.

It is the fastest-growing divestment campaign in history and could cause significant damage to coal, gas and oil companies, according to a study by Oxford University. Previous divestment campaigns have targeted the tobacco and gambling industries and companies funding the violence in Darfur. Divestment is perhaps most well known for its role in the fight against apartheid in South Africa. Read more…

Research: Burning existing fossil fuels will melt the Antarctic ice sheet

READ ORIGINAL PAPER:
Combustion of available fossil fuel resources sufficient to eliminate the Antarctic Ice Sheet
By Ricarda Winkelmann, Anders Levermann, Andy Ridgwell and Ken Caldeira

If We Burned All the Fossil Fuel in the World
Elizabeth Kolbert, The New Yorker

What would happen if we burned through all of the fossil-fuel resources known to exist? In a paper published today in the journal Science Advances, a quartet of German, American, and British researchers take on this question. The answer, not surprisingly, is grim. If mankind managed to combust the world’s known conventional deposits of coal, gas, and oil, and then went on to consume all of its “unconventional” ones, like tar-sands oil and shale gas, the result would be emissions on the order of ten trillion tons of carbon. Average global temperatures would soar, and the world would remain steamy for millennia. After ten thousand years, the planet would still be something like fourteen degrees Fahrenheit hotter than it is today. All of the world’s mountain glaciers and the Greenland ice sheet would melt away; Antarctica, too, would eventually become pretty much ice free. Sea levels would rise by hundreds of feet. 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.

Sagar Dhara: The climate challenge is deeper than technology

DEVELOPMENT AND DISARMAMENT ROUNDTABLE

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Technology’s role in a climate solution
If the world is to avoid “severe, widespread, and irreversible [climate] impacts,” carbon emissions must decrease quickly—and achieving such cuts, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, depends in part on the availability of “key technologies.” But arguments abound against faith in technological solutions to the climate problem. Electricity grids may be ill equipped to accommodate renewable energy produced on a massive scale. Many technological innovations touted in the past have failed to achieve practical success. Even successful technologies will do little good if they mature too late to help avert climate disaster. Below, experts from India, the United States, and Bangladesh address the following questions: To what extent can the world depend on technological innovation to address climate change? And what promising technologies—in generating, storing, and saving energy, and in storing greenhouse gases or removing them from the atmosphere—show most potential to help the world come to terms with global warming? Read more…

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.

National Geographic Special Issue on Climate Change

Fresh Hope for Combating Climate Change (Introductory article)

If a climate disaster is to be averted, we’ll have to move forward without relying as much on fossil fuels. It can be done.

Robert Kunzig, National Geographic

01-intro-2048THIS YEAR COULD BE THE TURNING POINT. Laurence Tubiana thinks so. She’s a small, elegant, white-haired woman of 63. At a press briefing in a noisy restaurant near Washington’s Capitol Hill, she apologized for being incapable of raising her voice—which in a diplomat is no doubt an excellent quality. Tubiana is no ordinary diplomat: She’s France’s “climate ambassador,” charged with the greatest cat-herding project in history. For the past year and a half she has been traveling the world, meeting with negotiators from 195 countries, trying to ensure that the global climate confab in Paris this December will be a success—a watershed in the struggle against climate change. “This notion of a turning point—that’s super important,” Tubiana says.

There are at least 20 reasons to fear she will fail. Since 1992, when the world’s nations agreed at Rio de Janeiro to avoid “dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system,” they’ve met 20 times without moving the needle on carbon emissions. In that interval we’ve added almost as much carbon to the atmosphere as we did in the previous century. Last year and the past decade were the warmest since temperature records began. Record-breaking heat waves are now five times as likely as they once were. A large part of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, scientists reported last year, is doomed to collapse—meaning that in the coming centuries sea level will rise at least four feet and probably much more. We’re already redrawing the map of the planet, especially of the zones where animals, plants, and people can live.

And yet there’s also an unmistakable trace of hope in the air. A lot of it is still just talk. China and the United States, the two largest carbon emitters, have announced a deal to reduce emissions. Six European oil companies say they’d welcome a carbon tax. A giant Norwegian pension fund has pledged to stop investing in coal. And the pope has brought his immense spiritual authority to bear on the problem. Read more…

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…

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