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India Climate Change and Energy News - January 30 to February 5, 2011

Shravya Reddy

Posted February 14, 2011

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Climate Change

We Expect Leadership From India: UN Climate Chief 

“India played an ‘exceedingly helpful role’ in the last climate summit and ‘we expect the same this year and beyond’, UN climate chief Christiana Figueres said here on Saturday. “India represented its own interests and stood firm with other developing countries, and then was incredibly helpful in showing that it’s mostly in the interest of developing countries to move forward” to combat global warming, said Figueres, executive secretary to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)…. Speaking to a small group of reporters on the sidelines of the Feb 3-5 Delhi Sustainable Development Summit organized by The Energy and Resources Institute, Figueres praised India for having ‘brought forward new concepts to bridge the North-South divide.’”

(Hindustan Times, 2/5/11)

Durban Will Not Have Final Say on Climate: Ramesh 

“India is not expecting any “concrete” or “final pronouncement” at the climate conclave in Durban later this year on four key issues, including one pertaining to emission cuts…. Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh, however, said it does not mean that ‘we should not negotiate, we should not discuss or exchange views’ on the crucial climate change issues…. ‘....One should understand it very clearly that we are not going to get a final pronouncement on these issues. They will still be on agenda. They will be discussed and as I said Durban will not have a final say....,’ the Minister said while describing the journey from Cancun summit to Durban conference…. Maintaining that he was approaching the Durban Climate Conference from a realistic point of view, he said, ‘If we approach it from a sense of exaggeration we will be hit by another disappointment.’”

(The Hindu, 2/4/11)

Companies Go for Project Approvals Before Kyoto Expires 

“As the legally binding commitment to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions under the Kyoto Protocol comes to an end in 2012, the number of Indian companies going in for project approvals is expected to go up. As per the process, they have to first seek approval from the host country, before getting their projects registered under the clean development mechanism (CDM) scheme of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)…. After the Cancun agreement, a death-knell was sounded on the Kyoto Protocol, which has been a domineering global framework since the 1990's, under which climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts were designed. But consultants are advising companies to go the whole hog on identifying future projects which can qualify as CDM projects under the UNFCCC to earn carbon credits before the scheme expires in 2012.”

(The Times of India, 2/5/11)

Basket Case

“Across India — from east to west, south to north — the effects of climate change are seen to be slowly becoming apparent. Karnataka coffee, Assamese tea and Himachal apples are just three on a lengthening list of crops that are affected by changing climate patterns. Maharashtra's grapes, Goa's mangoes and cashew nuts, Kerala's paddy crops and Haryana's wheat — are seen to be affected too…. Up in the northeast of India meanwhile, scientists are gloomily predicting the region will become wetter. So what is going on? The only thing scientists seem able to agree on is that there is no agreement on climate change affecting crop patterns.” 

(The Times of India, 1/30/11)


Country Should Be Ready to Pay the Price for Growing Green

“Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia on Saturday urged power companies in India to divert a part of their profits for research on alternative energy sources and called for government guidelines to make this mandatory. In the bargain, if there is a tariff hike, it would have to be lived with, he said…. ‘Public sector power companies are doing abysmally in this respect. Companies may say to do that we will need to increase tariff, to which my reply is that there is a lot of room in our country for energy pricing because they are way below global rates,’ Ahluwalia said while addressing the 11th Delhi Sustainable Development Summit organized by The Earth Research Institute (TERI). He said this is the practice of energy companies in developed countries but is yet to be adopted here.”

(The Times of India, 2/6/11)

India Closely Follows China, US in Wind Power Capacity

“In yet another indication of rapid progress of country’s wind energy sector, India was third largest player globally in new capacity addition in wind power during 2010. With new wind power capacity addition of 2,139 mw, India was ranked among the top 10 countries in new capacity addition for 2010…. While China was ranked highest with new capacity addition of 16,500 mw, about 46 per cent of total new capacity additions in wind energy sector globally in 2010, the US occupied the second position with new installed capacity of 5,115 mw. The total worldwide new installed capacity was 35,802 mw during 2010, according to Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC).”

(Financial Chronicle, 2/3/11)

ADB to Provide $7.4 Billion Assistance to India for 2011-2013

“The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Government of India have agreed on a new three-year business plan that will provide lending assistance of 7.4 billion dollars to support inclusive and environmentally sustainable growth in the country…. A major thrust of ADB's India Country Operations Business Plan (COBP) for 2011-2013 will be to support infrastructure development, particularly through public-private partnership (PPP) programs…. Climate change mitigation and adaptation will be further mainstreamed into ADB operations. Energy operations will focus on the generation and transmission of clean and renewable energy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase energy efficiency.”

(The Economic Times, 1/31/11)

Controversy over Burning Trash for Power, and Carbon Credits, in India

India is going full-steam ahead with plans to build a type of power plant that converts garbage to power, despite fears by some that it could amount to a pollution disaster in a country without strong air quality regulations…. Construction of cleaner-burning waste-to-energy facilities is gathering pace across Europe. But the situation in India is different, opponents say…. Whereas in Europe new plants generally must have state-of-the-art filters and scrubbers to catch toxins, India's environmental laws are too lax to force restrictions on the amount of pollution pouring out of smokestacks, they argue.”

(Reuters, 2/1/11)

Environmental Governance and Compliance

India Environment Ministry Clears Posco Project with Riders

“India's environment minister approved plans by South Korea's Posco to build a $12 billion steel factory, in a sign that the government is willing to compromise on large projects to keep economic growth on track…. Monday's decision by Minister for Environment and Forestry Jairam Ramesh has been long-awaited after he rejected several other projects because of environmental concerns. Such decisions, bringing new energy to environmental enforcement in the rapidly growing nation, made him unpopular with some corporate leaders…. Mr. Ramesh's approval came five years after Posco said it planned to set up a plant capable of producing 12 million metric tons a year in the mineral-rich eastern province of Orissa. But he made approval subject to more than two dozen conditions and withheld approval for around 50% of the project area pending further review.”

(The Wall Street Journal, 1/31/11)

Regulatory Standards Must Not Bring Back License Raj, Says PM

“Environmental standards and their enforcement should not lead to a License Raj regime, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said here on Thursday while inaugurating the 11th Delhi Sustainable Development Summit (DSDS) organized by The Energy Research Institute…. ‘It is also necessary to ensure that these regulatory standards do not bring back the License Permit Raj which we sought to get rid of in the wake of economic reforms of the early 90s,’ he said…. His statement -- though a repetition of a concern voiced earlier as well -- gave credence to increasing noise from within the Union Cabinet that environment and forests minister Jairam Ramesh's stance is beginning to hurt investment climate and halt infrastructure development.”

(The Times of India, 2/4/11)

Activists Urge PM to Set Aside ‘No Go’ Zones from Mining

“The classification of forests as 'no go' zones for coal mining may have divided the government but it has united activist groups, often opposed to each other. In a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, 27 environmental groups, wildlife researchers and social activists urged him to back the environment and forest ministry's classification of areas in nine forests as 'no go' zones for coal mining…. ‘Support the initiative to protect India's forests, forest dependent communities and wildlife...from the devastating consequences of coal mining,’ stated the letter, signed by members of National Alliance of People's Movements, WWF India, Greenpeace, Mines Mineral and People, Wildlife Protection Society of India, among others.”

(The Times of India, 2/5/11)

Vedanta Coalmine Proposal Fuels Villagers’ Displacement Fears

More than a thousand villagers from Chhattisgarh's coal-rich Raigarh district have expressed their opposition to a mine proposed by Vedanta Resources, a giant multinational…. Vedanta, if granted clearance, hopes to mine four million tonnes of coal a year to fuel the expansion of its 810-MW captive power plant on the Bharat Aluminum Company (BALCO) premises in Korba, Chhattisgarh…. In its draft Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) report, the company said coal was necessary to increase its power generation capacity from 810 to 1110 MW for enhancing BALCO's production…. The company seeks to acquire 1,070 hectares of land, of which about 700 hectares is owned by farmers. At a mandatory public hearing held at Taraimar, villagers shouted anti-Vedanta slogans, broke down and appealed to the local administration to save their land.”

(The Hindu, 2/1/11)

(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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