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Shravya Reddy’s Blog

India Climate Change and Energy News - December 13, 2010 to December 31, 2010

Shravya Reddy

Posted January 6, 2011

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Climate Change

In Cancun Climate Talks, India Enjoys Place in Sun

“India has emerged as a new global power on climate change, with major nations voicing praise -- and surprise -- at New Delhi's agile diplomacy that helped produce a deal in Cancun, Mexico. Jairam Ramesh, environment minister, was instrumental in breaking a deadlock over how to verify nations' climate actions and, for the first time, said that his country would consider a binding deal in the future…. Ramesh told reporters in the Caribbean beach resort that India needed to change with the times as it seeks a greater global role and the world inches toward a new comprehensive agreement on fighting climate change.”

(The Times of India, 12/13/10)

US Lauds Ramesh for Helping Broker Climate Deal 

“Environment minister Jairam Ramesh might have been taken to task by the Opposition back home, but he has got a pat on his back from the US for the role he played over successive climate meets -- in Copenhagen last year and Cancun recently -- during negotiations, and helping broker the climate deal….. The US appreciation of India's 'fundamental shift' in the stance at the controversial Copenhagen talks in 2009 and Ramesh's effort 'drawing India farther from the G77' has been revealed in a WikiLeak cable, dated February 2010, released on late Thursday night…. Ramesh's role in brokering a deal in Cancun, on the other hand, won him plaudits from the US in public domain with the US special envoy Todd Stern recently pointing out in an interaction with media, ‘India really played a particularly constructive role in trying to find solutions that would bring everybody to the table. And one good example of that is on the issue of transparency, which was very important.’"

(The Times of India, 12/18/10)

Jairam Defends Nuancing India’s Position at Cancun

“In a letter to MPs last week, Union Minister of State for Environment Jairam Ramesh has clarified that his effort at the United Nations climate change conference at Cancun was ‘to walk the thin line between safeguarding our position while showing a level of sensitivity to the view shared by the majority of countries at Cancun, including many of our developing country partners’…. Mr. Ramesh, who was under fire for his statements on legally binding commitments at Cancun, believed that it was this stand that enabled him to ‘walk this thin line effectively.’ ‘This nuancing of India's position will expand negotiating options and give India an all-round advantageous standing,’ he concluded.”

(The Hindu, 12/25/10)

New Study Adds Twist to Himalayan Glacier Row

“In what could revive controversy over the state of glaciers in the Himalayas, researchers associated with the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) and the government-run Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology suggest that aerosols such as soot—tiny particles that are often the result of insufficiently burnt gases—may be playing a key role in affecting glacier health…. Although previous studies, too, have suggested such a link, they relied entirely on satellite imagery. The latest study, part of a department of science and technology-funded project, is based on actual physical measurements of glaciers and, according to experts, considered an accurate picture of the contraction and expansion of glaciers…. It may mean that neither the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which views greenhouse gases (GHGs) as being chiefly responsible for global warming that accelerates the melting of glaciers, nor the Indian government, which holds that the phenomenon in the Himalayas cannot be definitely linked to man-made causes, are entirely correct in their assessments.”

(Livemint, 12/27/10)

Who’s More Toxic, China or India

“Although India's population is growing faster than China's, that difference isn't nearly enough to offset the widening gap between the two countries in per-capita emissions. According to some estimates, the two countries will have approximately the same population in 2035, about 1.49 billion residents each. But China will be responsible for more than six times as much carbon dioxide emissions as India. Fifteen years later, when India has 191 million more people than China, China will still emit 10 billion more metric tons of CO2 than India. That difference is the equivalent of putting 1.9 billion extra cars on the road - three times the number currently in use worldwide.”

(The Washington Post, 12/14/10)


India Raises Renewable Energy Target Fourfold

“India plans to quadruple its power generation capacity from renewable sources to 72,400 megawatts by 2022, its renewable energy ministry said late Tuesday. The South Asian nation's push to increase the amount of energy produced from renewable sources is linked to concerns over coal supplies, global climate change commitments and domestic moves towards clean energy…. India's power generation capacity at the end of October was about 167 gigawatts, of which its renewables-based capacity was about 11% at 18,321 MW, the ministry of new and renewable energy said in a statement…. It aims to raise renewables-based capacity to 72,400 MW--or 15.9% of total capacity--by 2022, when the country will have 455 GW of total capacity.”

(Wall Street Journal, 12/29/10)

India, China Sign MoU on Green Tech

“In keeping with their close camaraderie on the issue of climate change, India and China on Thursday signed an MoU on green technology that will enable them to jointly explore low-carbon technology solutions to drive their fast-growing economies…. The MoU was one of the six agreements signed by the two countries after talks between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and visiting Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao….. Both the countries are in dire need of climate-friendly technologies that will continue to let them grow at near 10 per cent without polluting the environment too much. The MoU is not about sharing or transfer of technology, but would only set up a platform where the two countries can discuss and explore the technologies that can be beneficial to both of them.”

(Indian Express, 12/17/10)

200 More Green Buildings by 2012

“The Indian Green Building Council (IGBC) will facilitate development of 200 green buildings by 2012 adding to the 800 already existing…. CII Sohrabji Godrej Green Business Centre senior councilor M Anand said the council was also targeting to use the green concept on 1 billion sft area from the current half a billion sft and train 5,000 accredited professionals. He was addressing a seminar on 'Environment friendly technologies: opportunities and challenges ahead', organized by the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) - Andhra Pradesh…. IGBC, formed in 2001, aims to become the world leader in green building by 2015, he added. So far, IGBC has certified 126 green buildings, and has 521.19 million sft of green building footprint.”

(Business Standard, 12/29/10)

In 2011, Cars to Come with Star Ratings on Energy Efficiency

“Car owners in India will come to know, probably from 2011, how eco-friendly their vehicle is. The government is coming up with star labeling for the automobile sector in order to stipulate strict fuel efficiency norms for cars…. The Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE), a statutory body under the power ministry, along with the Ministry of Road and Surface Transport has finalized Corporate Average Fuel Efficiency -- where the fuel economy of an entire fleet of a car manufacturing company is measured…. ‘There is a fair degree of movement on standards and labeling for automobiles and the principles on which this will be done have been largely agreed to. So I presume that very soon we should be able to announce the standards and labeling programs for automobiles,’ BEE Director General Ajay Mathur told IANS…. However, it will take some time before this is implemented. The BEE has been mandated by the Prime Minister's Office to stipulate the norms under the Energy Conservation Act.”

(The Economic Times, 12/31/10)

India Paid at least $10 Million in Subsidies for Solar Projects this Year

“India paid at least 459 million rupees ($10 million) in subsidies to help rural homes and villages install solar-powered lights in 2010…. A government program promoting the use of lights powered by photovoltaic cells installed 78,408 portable lanterns and 108,599 home-lighting systems, the Ministry of Renewable Energy said in a statement today…. The ministry provided a subsidy of 2,400 rupees for each solar lantern, which typically runs off batteries, and anywhere from 2,500 rupees to 8,660 rupees for each home-lighting system depending on the model installed and the type of user, it said.”

(Bloomberg, 12/29/10)

Entrepreneurs Slam National Solar Power Policy

“Tejpreet Chopra, former chief executive of GE India, and Rahul Sankhe, business development director of SunEdison Energy India Private Ltd, criticized certain aspects of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission…. Addressing a gathering of solar energy entrepreneurs, Rahul Sankhe said that regulations like only one solar plant of 5 MW capacity per producer will not help India reach a target of 20,000 MW by 2022 as envisaged in the JNNSM…. ‘The biggest gap in the policy is that there is no long-term visibility (in the policy) for developers like us,’ Sankhe said…. Both Chopra and Sankhe lamented the fact that banks were not forthcoming to finance such solar energy producers. Sankhe said that the cost of production of 5 MW of solar power ranges between Rs 70-80 crore (Rs 700-800 million)…. ‘The fact that the direct taxes policy (that will come into effect in the next financial year) takes away all the tax benefits (from solar power projects) is another disincentive for the producers,’ Chopra said.”

(Rediff, 12/23/10)

Environmental Governance and Compliance

I am not a Minister of Moratorium and Crematorium, Says Jairam Ramesh

“’Just as 20 years ago we discovered the need to make our economic reforms fiscally sustainable, we now need to discover ways of making our high economic growth ecologically sustainable. …. I want to make it absolutely clear that the issue is not environment versus development, or conservation versus growth. The issue is: Do we want to follow the laws of the land? Indians have a great fascination with passing laws and bypassing them. I am trying to break this pass-bypass model…. I want to professionalize the system of decision-making. I have proposed the establishment of a National Environmental Assessment and Monitoring Authority — a professional body, independent of the Ministry. Right now environmental cases are taken once or twice a month, but this will be a 24x7 body strictly to give clearances and monitor implementation…. I am also looking at new ways of ensuring environmental regulations. India needs regulations, not necessarily regulators — the harassment comes not from regulations, but from an army of regulators. What a market economy requires is a regulatory framework.’”

(The Hindu Business Line, 12/27/10)

Tamil Nadu, Gujarat to have Pilot Emissions Trading Schemes

“Tamil Nadu and Gujarat will soon have India’s first domestic emissions trading scheme (ETS), which will be tied to air pollution. It will be implemented under a cap on air pollutants set by the respective state pollution control boards as a pilot for the rest of the country for six months…. Jairam Ramesh, minister of state for environment and forests, described the plan as ‘a big market-friendly systems of implementing environmental laws’…. The scheme works thus: A ceiling on emissions of a certain pollutant is set, based on its desired concentration in the atmosphere. The government then issues or auctions free permits to industrial units in accordance with the amount of pollutant they are allowed to emit. If the plant exceeds the level, it has to buy these permits from others and vice-versa.”

(Livemint, 12/24/10)

POSCO Project Gets Green Signal, but Conditions Apply

“After running into several hurdles, the Rs51,000-crore POSCO steel plant project in Orissa has finally received the green signal from environment minister Jairam Ramesh. The decision comes as a big relief for the Indian industry which has been under tremendous pressure due to objections raised by the ministry over environment issues…. The steel project, being promoted by South Korean steel major POSCO in Jagatsinghpur district of Orissa, is the biggest foreign investment in the country. It was put on hold after the ministry cited violations of environment and forest laws by the company. The decision of the expert appraisal committee (EAC) of the ministry followed several public hearings and meetings with officials of POSCO India limited and the state government…. The EAC, however, has imposed tough conditions — running into 80 clauses — on the promoters. The most important of these is that at least 5% of the total cost of the project should be earmarked for corporate social responsibility. This means, POSCO will need to set aside at least Rs 2,000 crore for this purpose only.”

(Daily News & Analysis, 12/29/10)

Centre Declares High-erosion Coastline as ‘No-go’ Area

“After forest areas, it is the turn of India’s 7,500-km coastline to be classified into ‘no go’ and ‘go’ areas…. Stretches of the coastline showing high levels of erosion will now be barred for setting up of any new projects. In undertaking the exercise of demarcating the country’s coastline on the basis of erosion levels, the environment ministry has consulted extensively with the states…. Areas of the coast where the shoreline has moved towards the land by more than 25 meters have been classified as “high erosion” zones. In these stretches no new projects will be permitted. Also, no expansion of existing projects will be allowed.”

(The Economic Times, 12/30/10)

(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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