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Shravya Reddy’s Blog

India Climate Change and Energy News - Week of September 21, 2010 to September 27, 2010

Shravya Reddy

Posted September 30, 2010

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Climate Change

India’s Monsoon is Getting More Erratic by the Year

“The Indian monsoon, a dynamic system, is perceptibly changing and, as several studies point out, behaving more and more erratically. Climate scientists are trying to answer how and why. Met officials say it’s too early to comment if these deviations are linked to climate change, but numerous studies confirm a steady weakening of India’s summer monsoon…. What it means, is an open research question. But the Indian Met department director general Ajit Tyagi was quoted by agencies earlier this year as saying that ‘there is a structural shift in the pattern of the annual rainfall that could yet force a change in cropping patterns in the country’…. Studies by the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, Pune, confirm that the southwest monsoon rain has decreased across the country by 4.7 per cent. The frequency and magnitude of extreme rainfall events (of greater than 10 cm/day) is increasing, while the frequency of moderate events is waning.”

(DNA, 9/26/10)

Climate Change: Jairam Slams US Commitment

Union Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh on Monday made a scathing attack on the United States' ‘commitment to climate change’. Speaking to Headlines Today Ramesh said that the US has failed to provide political leadership on climate change. He said the US commitment on the issue was not up to the mark. ‘The real problem is the United States. It's not in a position to provide political leadership. It does not have the legislation in place. Its commitments are not up to the mark,’ Ramesh told Headlines Today…. ‘The fast-track finance out of $30 billion that was promised for 2010, 2011 and 2012 only about $6-7 billion we have clarity on. So all in all the inability of the developed countries to meet their part of the grand bargain at the Copenhagen has made the road to Cancun somewhat rocky, somewhat troublesome,’ he added.”

(India Today, 9/27/10)

India Wary as West Plots New Climate Moves Ahead of Cancun

“With all key countries discounting the possibility of a complete new global deal on climate change at Cancun, Mexico, in November, US and other rich countries have begun closed-door parleys to instead discuss a brief but game-altering 'Mexico Mandate'…. There are indications that the 'Mexico Mandate' could set new ground rules for crucial negotiations leading to a final new deal by December 2011. The move has not gone down well with the Indian government which sees pitfalls in allowing decisions on issues closer to developed countries' interests at Cancun while concerns of the South are unresolved.”

(Times of India, 9/23/10)

US Says Binding Carbon Cuts for India, China

“If the international negotiations were to move in the direction of legally binding carbon emission cuts then all major economies, including India and China should be under an obligation to do so, the US said on Wednesday…. ‘If we are in the world of legally binding...where the negotiation on the table is for legally binding commitments... then it would be legally binding for China and India and other major developing countries,’ America's top climate change negotiator, Todd Stern said…. Speaking at the end of the two day Major Economies Forum (MEF) meeting in New York, Stern also stressed that the US had been working with China and India on several non-binding initiatives to tackle climate change as well.”

(The Economic Times, 9/22/10)

Biodiversity as Important to India as Climate Change

"Environment minister Jairam Ramesh has underlined that Convention on Biodiversity was equally important to India as combating climate change, which tends to hog the limelight. ‘Climate change gets the headline, biodiversity does not get the headlines,’ Ramesh told PTI as he left New York this weekend after a week of attending environment related meetings, including those with US Climate Change Negotiator Todd Stern and Chinese environment minister Xie Zhenhua….  Ramesh wrapped up his visit here with meetings with Stern and Xie where they discussed bilateral issues. ‘There is a lot of common interest between the two countries (India and U.S.) in the field of science and technology, particularly as it relates climate change whether it is renewable energy, clean coal or shale gas,’ Ramesh said."

(DNA, 9/26/10)

Govt to Help Companies Develop Technology for Hybrid, E-Vehicles

“The government is setting up a new body with a corpus of up to Rs 200 crore to help companies develop environment- friendly technologies for hybrid and electric vehicles, said a senior government official…. ‘There are several players in India making different kind of electric vehicles but lack of infrastructure to charge these vehicles and the high-price of hybrid cars has prevented growth,’ said Ambuj Sharma, joint-secretary, ministry of Heavy Industries…. The National Electric Mobility Mission will try to promote eco-friendly technologies as an alternative to the use of non-renewable fuels such as petrol and diesel that dominate the Indian car and two-wheeler market. This will also help control air pollution in the country.”

(The Economic Times, 9/25/10)

Staying Afloat with Submarine Rice

“'Submergence-tolerant rice varieties are classic examples of adaptation to climate change,’ says Uma Shankar Singh, a rice scientist with the Philippines-based International Rice Research Institute (IRRI).  Singh, who is currently in India, told IPS that the IRRI plans to transfer its highly successful SUB1 (short for submergence1) flood-tolerant gene to popular rice varieties across Asia to confer ability to withstand total submersion for more than two weeks…. ‘We encouraged state governments to distribute the seeds for large-scale multiplication, and disseminate the seeds directly to farmers,’ Singh said…. With that confidence the IRRI has, since August 2009, helped distribute 'Swarna-Sub1' seeds to 100,000 farmers in India. It is now being grown over 12 million of the 44 million hectares of paddy in this country.”

(IPS, 9/26/10)


India, US Eye Deals in Energy and Agriculture Ahead of Obama Visit

“Trade irritants have threatened to dampen US president Barack Obama’s visit to India in November but on Tuesday both sides tried to iron out the wrinkles…. Officials from both sides signaled a hunt was on to identify investment projects that Obama and Singh could sign during the visit in areas such as energy, education, agriculture and infrastructure…. ‘Get Something Done’ should be the mantra now,’ said commerce secretary Rahul Khullar in his opening remarks at the Trade Policy Forum meeting in Washington.”

(DNA, 9/22/10)

400 Firms Vie to Join Solar Power Mission

State-owned hydrocarbon companies such as Oil and Natural Gas Corp. (ONGC), Indian Oil Corp. (IOC) and GAIL (India) Ltd are among the nearly 400 applicants who want to set up solar power units as part of India’s efforts to promote clean energy…. The Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission aims to achieve 20,000MW of grid solar power and 2,000MW of off-grid solar applications…. NTPC Vidyut Vyapar Nigam Ltd (NVVN), a subsidiary of state-run NTPC Ltd, has invited bids for solar plants that can generate 650MW of electricity. This will include 150MW based on so-called solar photovoltaic panels—an array of specialized cells that convert light into electricity—and 500MW based on solar thermal technology…. ‘There has been an overwhelming response... We expect to award the projects by end (of) October,’ said a senior NTPC executive, asking not to be named.”

(Live Mint, 9/27/10)

India to Install 400 Million Power Saver Lamps

“India's Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) is working on a plan to replace 400 million incandescent light bulbs with energy efficient compact fluorescent lamps (CFL) across the country, an official said Tuesday…. The project, called Bachat Lamp Yojana (BLY), aims at reducing India's carbon footprints by preventing 40 million tonnes of carbon from entering the atmosphere annually…. Each CFL unit would cost around Rs.15 under the scheme, 75 per cent less than its usual cost…. ‘We are aiming at nearly 400 million light points in the country, planning to reach every household. Earlier these bulbs were expensive, now we are providing them at a subsidised rate,’ Ajay Mathur, director general of BEE, told IANS."

(The Economic Times, 9/21/10)

IEA Says More People in India Lack Access to Power Than Any Other Nation

“More people in India lack access to electricity than any other nation, a deficit that must be closed to ensure that expansion of the world’s third-fastest growing major economy is sustained, the International Energy Agency said…. In India, 404 million people don’t have access to the energy needed for lighting, mechanical power, transport and telecommunications, according to an IEA report published today. That’s equivalent to one in three Indians or roughly the population of the U.S. and Mexico combined, according to data compiled by Bloomberg…. On a country-by-country basis, that’s the highest number of people without electricity, the Paris-based agency said in an e- mailed response to questions.”

(Bloomberg, 9/22/10)

Environmental Compliance and Governance

Is the Environment Hurting GDP

“Rajeev Chandrasekhar: Apart from this involvement of communities, there is a need for more transparent regulations. Notwithstanding the current minister’s pro-active actions, there are lingering questions: is this part of a consistent set of regulatory actions or is this political? The fact that there is such a question being posed is argument enough to move to a more credible and modern environmental regulation. A US-style Environmental Protection Agency at central and state levels is what we need. Politicians and bureaucrats don’t make for either good or credible custodians of the environment."

(Indian Express, 9/24/10)

Bidding May be Waived for Firms with Projects in ‘No-Go’ Areas

“The environment ministry’s unwavering stand of not allowing coal mining in “no-go” areas has forced the government to consider a one-time exception for companies with projects held up in these areas and exempt them from competitive bidding of coal blocks…. Further complicating the matter, there are differences of opinion within the government on whether the go and no-go classification of coal-bearing areas has any sanctity. While the environment ministry denies applications for environment clearance on the ground that no-go areas are those that possess rich forest cover, officials in the Planning Commission and the power ministry reject the validity of the categorisation, saying the blocks were allocated much before the notification.”

(Business Standard, 9/23/10)

(Prepared by Andy Gupta, Program Assistant)

Note: The linked articles and excerpts in this post are provided for informational purposes only and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of the India Initiative or of the Natural Resources Defense Council.

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