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Green News: Kerry set to visit India next week, with U.S.-China HFC phase-down in the air.

Kristina Johnson

Posted June 20, 2013 in Curbing Pollution, Greening China, Health and the Environment, Living Sustainably, Moving Beyond Oil, Solving Global Warming, U.S. Law and Policy

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June 11th-June 20th

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

Climate Change

India, US to Raise Economic Issues, Afghan Talks during John Kerry Visit

US Secretary of State John Kerry is gearing up for a three-day visit to India starting 23 June to lead the fourth India-US strategic dialogue. His talks with Indian Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid will range from economical issues to higher education in the Asian country.

"Topics for discussion will include bilateral and regional economic engagement, regional security and defense, science and technology, climate change, and other global issues such as women's empowerment, non-proliferation and space cooperation," State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said in a statement.

In fact, Kerry has been encouraged by Congressman Charles W. Boustany to address talks on liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports to India in order to reduce India's dependence on crude oil imports from the West Asian countries.

"The United States has a unique opening to provide its allies with a steady, reliable source of energy. India is the world's sixth largest importer of LNG with expected demand to rise annually at a rate of five to six percent until 2020. South Louisiana finds itself in the center of activity as LNG will be exported out of the Sabine Pass export terminal beginning in 2014," Boustany promoted in a statement.

Kerry is keen to "meet with young leaders and innovators at an event highlighting U.S.-India cooperation on clean energy, climate change, science and technology, and poverty alleviation," said Psaki. He will deliver a policy speech on bilateral and regional issues.

(International Business Times, 6/20/2013)

Global warming to hit crop yield, food adequacy: World Bank

An unexpected rise in global temperature during the next decade is expected to result in reduction in crop yields and impact food adequacy in India because of reduction in water availability, a study by World Bank released on Wednesday warned.

"India will see a significant reduction in crop yields because of extreme heat. Reduced water availability due to changes in precipitation levels and falling groundwater tables are likely to aggravate the situation in India, where groundwater resources are already at a critical level," the study titled "Turn Down The Heat: Climate Extremes, Regional Impacts and the Case for Resilience" noted.

The scientific study noted that in India, more than 60% of the crop area is rain-fed, making it highly vulnerable to climate-induced changes in precipitation patterns.

"It is estimated that by the 2050s, with a temperature increase of 2-2.5°C compared to the pre-industrial levels, water for agricultural production in the river basins of the Indus, Ganges and Brahmaputra will reduce further and may impact food adequacy for some 63 million people," the study stated.

The report, prepared for the World Bank by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and Climate Analytics, and peer reviewed by 25 scientists worldwide, says the consequences for South Asia of a warming climate are "even worse" if global temperatures increased by an average of 4°C by 2090.

In this scenario, unless action is taken now to limit carbon emissions, South Asia would suffer more extreme droughts and floods, rising sea levels, melting glaciers, and declines in food production. In India, for example, an extreme wet monsoon that currently has a chance of occurring only once in 100 years is projected to occur every 10 years by the end of the century, the report said.

The report cited Kolkata and Mumbai along with Bangladesh as 'potential impact hotspots' threatened by "extreme river floods, more intense tropical cyclones, rising sea levels and very high temperatures". With South Asia close to the equator, the sub-continent would see much higher increases in sea levels than higher latitudes, with the Maldives confronting the biggest increases of 100-115 centimeters.

(The Indian Express, 6/20/2013)

US, China agree to reduce use of hydrofluorocarbons

CALIFORNIA: US President Barack Obama and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, agreed on Saturday to cooperate in fighting climate change by cutting the use of hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs, the White House said a statement.

"The United States and China will work together and with other countries to use the expertise and institutions of the Montreal Protocol to phase down the consumption and production of hydrofluorocarbons," the White House said on the second day of the informal US-China summit in Southern California.

HFCs are used in refrigerators and air conditioners. They came into wide commercial use to replace ozone-depleting chemicals that are being phased out under the 1987 Montreal Protocol, but they are a big source of greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change.

According to the White House statement, phasing down HFCs worldwide could reduce some 90 gigatons of carbon dioxide equivalent by 2050, an amount equal to about two years' worth of global greenhouse gas emissions.

On Wednesday, leaders of the Bicameral Task Force on Climate Change in the US Congress wrote a letter to Obama urging him to raise the HFC issue with Xi at their California summit.

The lawmakers warned Obama that with the United States and China responsible for 43 per cent of global carbon dioxide emissions, "cooperation with China is essential if we are to avoid catastrophic climate change."

They urged Obama to lobby Xi to support a proposal launched in 2009 by the United States, Canada and Mexico to amend the Montreal Protocol to reduce the production and consumption of HFCs. The plan makes funds available for developing countries to reduce their use of HFCs.

(The Economic Times, 6/9/2013)

Selectively Targeting Aerosol Pollutants Could Reduce Climate Change

Cutting our overall use of fossil fuels has proved a daunting challenge, but it might be possible to get some relief from the effects of climate change by selectively reducing the particulate pollution we produce. Recent research suggests that if we can clean up diesel engines and primitive cookstoves in India and China, for example, that could delay the effects of greenhouse-gas buildup even if pollution from coal-fired power plants persists.

A study released last week concludes that if every country were to do what California has done in the last couple of decades to clean up diesel emissions, it would slow down global warming by 15 percent. Reducing similar pollution from sources such as ships and cookstoves—which weren’t included in the study—could help even more.

The study comes as governments in India and China are deciding how to address their increasing pollution, which can contribute to fatal human health problems. Over the weekend, state-controlled media in China announced new pollution rules targeting both power plants and emissions from cars and trucks.

Aerosol pollutants such as sulfur dioxide, soot, and ozone are all bad for human health, but they have different effects on the climate. “Some of the aerosols are warming the planet, and some are cooling the planet,” says Phil Rasch, a fellow at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Washington. For example, sulfates that form from coal-plant exhaust reflect sunlight back into space, acting to shade the planet and cool it off. Black-carbon particles from diesel exhaust, on the other hand, absorb sunlight and heat up, warming the atmosphere.

“When you add them together, we think that on balance they’re cooling the planet,” Rasch says. That is, they mask some of the temperature increase that would have occurred as a result of carbon dioxide emissions, the main human contribution to global warming. But this effect would be more significant if the particulates that help heat up the atmosphere were removed. “If we could get rid of the ones that are warming the planet,” he says, “then that would buy us some more time.”

(MIT Technology, 6/18/2013)

Environmental Health & Governance

Ahmedabad’s beat-the-heat plan

IN A first-of-its-kind initiative, the city of Ahmedabad has charted out a plan to protect its residents from scorching heat. Under the Heat Action Plan, people will receive weather alerts through SMS on mobile phones and medical professionals will be trained to increase preparedness.

Drawn by the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) in collaboration with the US’ Georgia Institute of Technology, the action plan is a response to the deadly heat wave in May 2010 when the city’s temperature spiked to 46.8°C and killed hundreds of people.

“It is a three-pronged strategy to create awareness. We will make people aware of heat stroke and precautions and develop a warning system that will forecast weather seven days in advance and increase capacity building of health workers,” says Tejas Shah, nodal officer for Heat Action Plan, AMC.

When asked why the help of the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) was not sought for the plan, Shah said that IMD gives predictions for three days only. “The Georgia University has used historical data to develop a model for Ahmedabad. We can get reliable predictions in advance and also have enough time to prepare and communicate to other departments and stakeholders.”

(Down to Earth, 6/30/2013)

Energy

'India's LED lighting demand to rise by 40 per cent'

BHUBANESWAR: The demand for light emitting diode (LED) lighting in India is expected to grow by about 40 per cent per annum over the next five years, lighting solutions manufacturer NTL Lemnis said on Wednesday.

"I personally feel the LED market (in India) would grow by about 40 per cent year-on-year basis at least for the next five year," global chief executive officer of NTL Lemnis Arun Gupta told IANS in an interview.

The size of the current lighting market in India stands at around Rs.96 billion and the LED lighting industry's share is around Rs.10 billion, he added.

According to the Association of Electrical Lighting Manufacturers in India (ELCOMA), the lighting industry in the country has been growing at nearly 17-18 per cent annually over the past two-three years.

Although the overall lighting market growth is going to be slower, the LED lighting market offers very high growth opportunity, Gupta said.

The LED Industry is expected to touch around $500 million by 2015 in India. Within the segment, the demand for LED street lights and LED solar lights is expected to grow rapidly in coming years, Gupta said.

Set up in 2012, NTL Lemnis is a joint venture company between NTL Electronics India and Lemnis Lighting, the Netherlands.

(The Economic Times, 6/19/2013)

India Solar Mission-II projects to have 75% local content

New Delhi, June 12:

The Government has decided that 75 per cent of 750 MW solar projects, to be offered under the second phase of Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission, will be built with local content.

This has put to rest all uncertainties pertaining to the use of local content in the Mission because of US pressure.

“We want to encourage domestic industry also. The bidding would start in the coming month,” said Farooq Abdullah, Ministry of New & Renewable Energy (MNRE).

The US has dragged India to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) over mandating of domestic sourcing in the first phase of the Mission.

WIND POWER

The MNRE would move a proposal to the Cabinet to re-instate accelerated depreciation benefit to wind power generators.

“We hope in the next couple of weeks, it will go to the Cabinet. We want to give accelerated depreciation for two years. At the same time, Generation Based Incentive Scheme would continue for a longer period,” said Abdullah.

The scrapping of accelerated depreciation benefit to wind power generators has hit the competitiveness of small and medium enterprises sector, the largest investors in captive wind power projects, according to the Indian Wind Power Association.

France’s Solairedirect unit

Solairedirect Energy India Private Ltd, the subsidiary of Paris-based Solairedirect Group, on Wednesday announced the commissioning of its 5-MW solar park in Rajasthan.

This is the first project of the European company in India.

“We have bid under Punjab policy for 20 MW. The bids are likely to open on Friday and we expect our bid to be competitive,” said Gaurav Sood, Managing Director for the Indian unit.

“We are also looking to sign power purchase agreements with private developers,” Sood told mediapersons.

The company bagged the Rajasthan project under Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission in December 2011 at Rs 7.49 per kWh

(The Hindu Business Line, 6/12/2013)

Indian firms to ink production-sharing contract with Iran

New Delhi: In what could be a new chapter in India’s relationship with Iran, local firms may take up Iran’s offer of a production-sharing contract (PSC) to develop the Farzad-B gas field in its offshore Farsi block, a top petroleum ministry functionary said.

Iran has offered the first such pact globally since the 1979 revolution that overthrew the monarchy in Iran to an Indian consortium comprising ONGC Videsh Ltd (OVL), Indian Oil Corp. Ltd (IOC) and Oil India Ltd (OIL), which won a bid for the block in 2002 from National Iranian Oil Co.

“We are taking that (offer),” the official said, requesting anonymity.

Although the Indian consortium didn’t have ownership rights earlier, it was to be paid a 15% return on investment once it was awarded development rights. The PSC changes that with a share in the production offered by Iran. Indian firms were earlier non-committal because Iran faces sanctions due to its nuclear programme.

In response to a question about sanctions hitting companies who would take this up, the person said, “There are methods to do it. I don’t want to spell it (out). We will do it.”

(Livemint, 6/16/2013)

India Wind-Farm Debt Crisis Lures Buyers Waving Cash

Ushdev Power Holdings Pvt. plans to boost wind-power generation capacity in India sevenfold by acquiring farms from indebted companies selling assets built for tax breaks.

Closely-held Ushdev Power bought 60 megawatts of projects from Suzlon Energy Ltd. (SUEL) at less than half the cost of building new wind farms a year ago as the turbine-maker struggled to raise cash to pay bondholders. That was the first of 400 megawatts of acquisitions Ushdev plans over the next 15 months, which would make it India’s second-biggest owner of wind assets based on current holdings, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

“Our strength is that we can sit across the table and say, ‘I’m here, I have the money, I will close the deal today,’”Arvind Prasad, managing director of Ushdev Power, said in an interview in Mumbai. “These sellers require the cash now.”

India’s fragmented wind industry is ripe for mergers and acquisitions. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Morgan Stanley (MS) have led about $1.1 billion of private-equity buyouts, project and company acquisitions in the industry since 2010, said Ashish Sethia, Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s India country manager. Property developer DLF Ltd. (DLFU) and truck maker Ashok Leyland Ltd. are among those selling their wind portfolios.

(Bloomberg, 6/12/2013)

US Energy Secretary to visit India to discuss shale gas export

US Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz will be travelling to India in less than a fortnight, during which he is expected to discuss the issue of shale gas export with Indian counterparts.

"I will be in India in two weeks," Moniz said yesterday during a Congressional hearing in which a lawmaker raised the issue of shale gas export to India.

This would be Moniz's first trip to India in this capacity. An American nuclear physicist, Moniz was sworn in as the 13th Energy Secretary of the United States on May 21.

"I will be evaluating the export applications on a case-by-case basis, expeditiously," Moniz said in response to a question from Congressman Pete Olson, who argued in favor of export of shale gas to India.

Under current laws, shale gas can't be exported to countries with which the US does not have a free trade agreement (FTA). Recently the Department of Energy approved one license for export to shale gas to a non-FTA country.

Olson said that exporting shale gas to a country like India is in the national security interest of the United States.

The lawmaker said that LNG exports can sustain US's national security -- strengthen it by developing relationships with countries that are important to the US.

"Our relationship with India is key, and our Indian allies can either buy gas from us or from nations like Iran," Olson said.

(Business Standard, 6/15/2013)

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

 

 

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Switchboard is the staff blog of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the nation’s most effective environmental group. For more about our work, including in-depth policy documents, action alerts and ways you can contribute, visit NRDC.org.

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