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India Green News: India resists US efforts for HFC phase-outs, garners support from BASIC nations

Grace Gill Qayoumi

Posted September 19, 2013

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September 12-18, 2013

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

Clean Energy

Oscar Fernandes defends opposition to fuel efficiency norms

The Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways, Oscar Fernandes defended the move to delay and dilute the proposed norms on fuel efficiency for cars on Wednesday.

Mr Fernandes was speaking to IBN7 in Delhi, reacting to the story The Hindu had carried on Wednesday. He said, “India’s priority is to provide jobs to people, advance the industry and along with it, to save oil. But we cannot do so now (implement the fuel efficiency norms) at the cost of the industry being hurt.”

Mr Fernandes added, “The time to impose regulations is only when the industry is doing well and economic growth is taking place.”

His ministry along with the Ministry for Heavy Industries had objected to the fuel efficiency norms on two counts. The Road and Surface Transport Ministry, on behalf of the automobile manufacturers, advocated that the implementation of standards be delayed by two years, from 2015 to 2017. It also demanded that the norms be further diluted even when they are applied in 2017.

(The Hindu, 09/18/13)

BASIC nations agree with India's stand on HFCs

A powerful group of nations working on climate change has agreed with India's stand against the US and some developed countries' move to push for the phasing out of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs).

In its meeting held at Brazilian city of Foz de Iguacu, Brazil, South Africa, India and China, known as BASIC group of nations, have agreed with India's stated position that unless there was a cost effective and environmentally sound technology, such a proposal seeking phasing out of HFCs could not be accepted.

"Ministers agreed that hydrofluorocarbons (HFC) should be dealt with through relevant multilateral fora, guided by the principles and provisions of UNFCCC and its Kyoto Protocol," a joint statement, issued after the meeting concluded yesterday, said.

"The availability of safe and technically and economically viable alternatives and the provision of additional financial resources by developed countries should also be taken into account," it has said.

Environment Ministry Secretary V Rajagopalan represented India in the meeting.

The statement assumes significance in the wake of India having differences with the US and other developed countries over drafting a proposal in the Montreal protocol on substances depleting the Ozone layer.

(Business Standard, 09/18/13)

Energy upgrade could make AC’s dearer

For AC companies, the worst isn’t over yet. Most companies in this segment fear the price impact of the mandatory energy upgrade due in January could hit consumer sentiment further. A fall in demand, they say, could lead to a 10 per cent contraction in India’s 3.5-million-unit AC market, as companies would inevitably raise prices five-10 per cent due to the energy upgrade.

In the past couple of months, nearly all AC companies have raised prices about ten per cent, owing to the weak rupee. Another price rise in January, companies fear, would hit profitability.

Currently, the Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) implements a 2.2-table rating; from January 1, this would be upgraded to 2.3. As a result, an existing four-star split AC would become a three-star one, a five-star split AC would become a four-star one, and so on. Kamal Nandi, vice-president (sales & marketing), Godrej Appliances, said, “While new upgraded AC norms by BEE will result in products with higher energy efficiency, after already raising prices due to a weak rupee and the overall dull economy, another such rise would hit demand. But this is something that cannot be put on hold; we will abide by the law.”

Krishan Sachdev, managing director of Carrier Midea, said every one-star upgrade involved an average five-seven per cent price rise. Whenever a product was upgraded, material costs would rise, he said, adding more copper and a bigger compressor would add to the rising costs.

(Business Standard, 09/14/13)

Behind U.S. heat on fridge gas pact, thirst for markets

The U.S. is pushing India hard to sign on to a pact that would eventually lead to New Delhi replacing climate-damaging refrigerant gases with alternative, but expensive, technologies proprietary to a few U.S.-based companies.

Signing the pact — the multilateral Montreal Protocol — would open a huge market for these U.S. firms that hold patent rights on the replacement gases and their attendant technologies.

In a meeting with Indian officials, the US Special Envoy on Climate Change, Todd Stern demanded that Indian officials agree to the beginning of discussions on the phase out of these refrigerant gases under the Montreal Protocol before PM Manmohan Singh visits the US. He warned that if the decision was not taken at the official level, President Barack Obama would raise it directly with the Indian PM.

Mr. Stern in his meeting told Indian officials that it is a political priority not just for the US administration but also personally for the President Obama.

(The Hindu, 09/12/13)

India's First Green Building Features SunPower High Efficiency Solar Solution

SunPower Corp., a global solar technology and energy solutions company, today announced that Swadeshi Civil Infrastructure has completed the installation of a 930-kilowatt (kW) SunPower solar system on the rooftop of the Indira Paryavaran Bhavan building in New Delhi. SunPower's high efficiency, most reliable solar solution was chosen for the project given its energy generation requirements and the limited rooftop area.

The state-of-the art landmark will be India's first net zero energy building. Its design emphasizes conservation featuring trees to reduce adverse environmental impact, adequate natural light and shaded landscaped areas to reduce ambient temperature. The building is targeted to achieve Platinum from the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design green building rating system, known as LEED INDIA. It also is expected to receive a five star Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment from the rating system developed by the Energy and Resource Institute and supported by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, the nodal ministry of Indian government. Managed by the Central Public Works Department of India, the project is being spearheaded by the Indian Ministry of Environment and Forests.

The high-efficiency SunPower E-Series solar panels were installed on the building with a five-degree tilt to fully optimize its expected energy output of 1.5 million kWh annually.

"SunPower's world leading solar panel technology will help the Indira Paryavaran Bhavan project in New Delhi generate enough electricity from its rooftop solar system to cover 100 percent of its energy demand," said Howard Wenger, SunPower president, regions. "We're proud to be one of the Indian government's sustainability partners as it maximizes clean solar power generation and cost savings at this innovative net zero building."

(MarketWatch, WSJ, 09/11/13)

India resisting US pressure for draft on phase out of HFCs

CHENNAI: India was having differences with the US and other developed countries over drafting a proposal in the Montreal protocol on substances depleting the Ozone layer, a senior union government official said today.

"We are not agreeing to the proposal of phasing out hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). We are saying that we don't have any alternative technology. Our stand has been approved by our Cabinet," Environment and Forests Ministry Additional Secretary Susheel Kumar told reporters here.

US and some developed countries were pushing for the proposal contending that there should be a phase out of HFCs, while India was maintaining that unless it had alternative technology, which was cost effective and environmentally sound, it cannot accept it, he said.

Kumar was participating in a function where prizes were distributed to winners of a drawing competition on the theme of preservation of ozone layer

"Discussions are going on. Almost all developing countries are with us. The immediate benchmark of the protocol is 2013, and the ultimate benchmark is 2043 before which the phase out would be at 85 per cent," Kumar explained.

Asked whether India's stand was strong enough in its contention, he said, "Since it is a protocol, it can only move forward when there is a consensus among all countries."

Environment and Forests Minister Jayanthi Natarajan, whose speech was read out in the function in her absence, said, "The transition from HCFCs to environment-friendly alternatives is challenging, particularly for a developing country like India, which needs to achieve its development goals in an environmentally sustainable manner."

The Montreal Protocol is a protocol which resulted from the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer, intends to protect the ozone layer by phasing out the production of substances, which are believed to be responsible for the depletion of ozone layer.

United Nations' (UN) international Day for the preservation of ozone layer is observed on September 16 every year.

(The Economic Times, 09/14/13)

For more news on the issues we care about, visit our India News archive or read our other International blogs.

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