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India Green News: India considers talks with US on HFC phase out but resists piecemeal UN deal

Grace Gill Qayoumi

Posted September 26, 2013

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September 19-25, 2013

India Green News is a selection of news highlights about environmental and energy issues in India

Climate Change

Monsoon rainfall dipped 5% over last 50 years

PUNE: The sea surface temperature in the Indian Ocean has undergone a steady warming at the rate of about 0.5 degree C to 1 degree C during the last 50 years, researchers at the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM) have found in a recent study. During this period, the monsoon rainfall over India declined by about 5% (decrease of about 3-4 cm), the researchers have found. A prominent decrease has been seen over the Western Ghats region, especially over Kerala and central-north India around Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh.

Researchers Swapna Panickal and R Krishnan at the Centre for Climate Change Research, IITM, told TOI that the rise in the Indian Ocean sea surface temperature (SST) in recent decades is linked to the weakening trend of the southwest monsoon circulation. "This is for the first time that we have seen trends in the monsoon winds having caused SST warming in the ocean," said Krishnan, adding that there could be other reasons as well for the rising ocean temperatures, global warming being one of them.

Several studies have drawn attention to the steady warming of the equatorial and tropical Indian Ocean SST during recent decades. "However, an intriguing aspect of this warming trend is that it has been accompanied by a significance reduction in the large-scale summer monsoon circulation," Panickal said.

(The Times of India, 09/25/13)

Climate Cooperation

India, US to discuss phasing out of hydro-fluorocarbons

India is mulling over a closed-door meeting with the US to discuss issues related to finance and technology support in phasing out hydro-fluorocarbons (HFCs)—the commonest refrigerant gas used in fridges and air conditioners—from India because of its global warming potential.

“A bilateral India-US Task Force on HFCs was established in 2011. It would be useful to convene a meeting of this task force to discuss all relevant issues related to HFCs in the bilateral context,” said Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh days before Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to Washington.

The root of the new politico-commercial crisis on phasing out HFCs lies in the successful Montreal Protocol that mandated phasing out of ozone-depleting refrigeration gases from all over the world and replace them with HFCs, which emerged as the coolant of choice.

But scientists have now realised even though HFCs do not destroy the ozone layer, they have a greenhouse gas with an extremely high global warming potential. They are capable of trapping enormous amounts of radiation and cause a greenhouse effect stronger than carbon dioxide.

(Deccan Herald, 09/22/13)

No piecemeal climate deal, India tells United Nations

India has opposed proposals to sign a piecemeal global climate treaty with greenhouse gas reduction targets being decided first in 2015 and decisions on technology and finance adaptation being segregated and postponed for later years.

The global community is to sign a new compact on climate change under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) by 2015. The negotiations for this deal have been on since 2011 and are beginning to heat up with the next big meeting — referred to as the Conference of Parties (COP), slated for this November in Warsaw, Poland.

Perceiving that the developed countries have through the year been pushing at a piecemeal approach to the global deal, India has put in a submission to the UNFCCC, advocating that all elements of the deal — mitigation, adaptation, technology and finance — should be addressed at the same time as part of a balanced package.

(The Hindu, 09/20/13)

US environment group seeks India-US cooperation on climate change

A leading US environmental action group has outlined three key areas for India US collaboration: energy efficiency, growing solar energy markets, and preparing communities to sustain the impacts of climate change.

In a letter to the White House Thursday Natural Resources Defence Council (NRDC) asked US President Barack Obama to prioritise climate change during his summit meeting with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh here next week.

"The two countries can create public-private partnerships-similar to those that have helped spur innovation and investment in information technology-to help increase energy efficiency in our workplaces, appliances, buildings and cars," NRDC president Frances Beinecke wrote.

(Business Standard, 09/20/13)

'Energy, Defence ties key pillars of strategic relation between India-US'

Foreign Secretary Sujata Singh on Friday said that energy cooperation, including civil nuclear deal, and defence cooperation are the pillars of strategic relationship between India and United States of America.

"Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is visiting the United States from September 26 to Sept 30. We expect the summit level meeting will reaffirm political commitment to the ongoing efforts on both sides to intensify our strategic partnership," she told media here today.

She said that this will be Prime Minister's third summit meeting with President Obama, and added that the relationship has reached the 'stage of maturity'.

She also said that both countries would be looking at ways to convert the buyer-seller relationship to design, develop and produce in the defence sector.

About civil nuclear cooperation agreement signed in 2008, Sujata Singh said the two leaders will review its implementation.

(Business Standard, 09/20/13)

Clean Energy

Solar Mission needs to rethink road map

Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission has failed to appreciate the country’s solar potential as envisaged in national policy on climate change, according to K. Sivadasan, researcher and renewable energy expert.

The policy states that India needs to attain a solar installed capacity of 200 GW by 2050. But need for setting up required infrastructure is not adequately spelt out in the Mission.

The mission document does not also give any option for entrepreneurs to think creatively, Sivadasan, a retired top official of Kerala State Electricity Board, said. It lacks a global vision, too.

The subsidy regime is a root cause for slow progress in growing generation. Entrepreneurs lose enthusiasm once benefits are claimed while the plant needs to operate for its life.

Most nations visualise sustainable growth based on renewable energy. The Mission needs to revise its road map accordingly.

(The Hindu, 09/22/13)

Maharashtra Energy Development Agency to electrify remote villages

NAGPUR: Maharashtra is one of the states where most of the villages have power supply. However, there are about 40 villages which have still not been electrified as they are very remote. Most of these villages are located in Gadchiroli and Nandurbar districts.

The central government had devised a project to electricity such villages all over the country under Rajiv Gandhi Gramin Vidyutikaran Yojana ( RGGVY). These villages will be electrified using the distributed generation concept. Renewable energy will be used to provide power supply to these villages.

The state government has appointed Maharashtra Energy Development Agency (MEDA) to implement this scheme. The agency specializes in developing renewable energy. MSEDCL does not have any expertise in distributed generation schemes and hence this project has been given to MEDA.

(The Times of India, 09/21/13)

Consumers switch to inverter ACs as energy efficiency gains ground

The market for energy-efficient products is expected to rise as stringent green norms compel manufacturers to take a long hard look at this category. The move towards energy-efficient products also comes at a time when inflationary pressures continue to bog down consumers.

Inverter air conditioners that can adjust to room temperature by running at variable speed thereby bringing down energy consumption is one such product that is slowly but steadily picking up in the marketplace.

Standing at one% last year, these ACs today constitute about 3-4% of the 3.2-million-unit total AC market in the country. By next year, this segment is likely to constitute about 7-8% of the total AC market, manufacturers such as Panasonic, LG, Daikin and Sharp say.

(Business Standard, 09/19/13)

Environmental Governance and Health

Solid particles from outside add to pollution in Delhi air

NEW DELHI: Delhi's not the only culprit. A recent study by Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, has found that the city's emissions, though considerable, are not alone responsible for the sudden peaks in particulate matter (PM 10) levels in it. Far-off sources in north India or even beyond India (within Asia) may be contributing as much as 24% of PM 10. And on days when PM 10 concentration is very high here, only about 11% of it may have been contributed by polluting sources within Delhi.

The study, published online in the Atmospheric Research Pollution journal, has used a chemical transport model to interpret Delhi's PM 10 levels from June 2010 values to assess how much of it was caused due to emissions within the capital. The data was mapped on four geopolitical domains—Asia, India, north India and Delhi.

The team found that contribution from sources in Delhi alone was about 11% to 41% and a major proportion (59% to 89%) was from sources outside Delhi. While this may seem like a wide range, it was found that, on days when PM 10 concentrations were low in Delhi, the contribution from sources within Delhi was higher (41.5%). But on days when PM 10 concentration was very high (over 500 micrograms per cubic metre), the contribution from Delhi was only about 11%, from north India and surrounding areas about 69.2%, and from outside India about 19.6%.

(The Times of India, 09/19/13)

Energy efficiency standards for power guzzling industries on anvil

New Delhi, Sep 18 (IANS) The government has identified 600-odd power guzzling industries such as fertilizers, steel, cement and paper for which energy efficiency standards will be laid down, Planning Commission member B.K. Chaturvedi said Wednesay.

"If these industries fail to adhere to the prescribed norms, they will be penalised," Chaturvedi said while addressing a conference, India Climate Policy and Business Conclave 2013, by industry association FICCI.

He said as part of the drive to achieve energy efficiency in the 13th Five Year Plan (2017-22), the government will focus on setting up super critical and ultra critical power plants.

"It is imperative for the states and cities to come on board to improve energy efficiency and implement the laws set out in the statutes," he said.

(News Track India, 09/18/13)

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