India Green News, June 28, 2016: Climate Change, Energy, Health

Extreme heat bears down on India's poor

Credit: Dr. Dileep Mavalankar

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

June 21, 2016 – June 28, 2016
Compiled by Jessica Korsh

Climate Change

The Social Consequences of India’s Heat Waves Spell Doom for the Working Poor

Deaths due to heat waves in India are usually reported as class- and gender-neutral numbers, hiding the irony of global warming that those least responsible for it are affected the most by it.


Given the enormous amount of excess heat being trapped in Earth’s climate systems, it’s hardly surprising that one obvious, and widely-accepted, manifestation of global warming has been an increase in the geographical area, frequency and duration of heat waves – such as we have been experiencing in many regions of India this year.

A recent discussion in the journal Nature by P. Rohini, M Rajeevan and A.K. Srivastava, covering the half-century 1961-2013, reveals “a statistically significant increase in frequency, duration and maximum duration of heat waves over India”.

As average temperatures rise, what is currently an extreme heat outlier becomes increasingly frequent and commonplace. But we are talking of something even more dire: large tracts of land in India where millions now live becoming inhabitable; going, for some periods in the year, beyond the coping capacity of human physiology.
(The Wire – June 24, 2016)

Reports: India considering umbrella climate legislation

Climate legislation would incorporate targets from across sectors including power, transport, and agriculture. India is considering proposals to bring in umbrella legislation on climate change to help speed up the country's ratification of the Paris Agreement, India's Economic Times has revealed.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's climate change committee has held discussions over bringing in a blanket legislation that would incorporate climate targets from across ministries and sectors, including power, transport and agriculture, the newspaper reported today. The far-reaching umbrella legislation, which would be brought in through the environment ministry, would provide an alternative to implementing separate legislation by each ministry, the report said.
(businessGreen – June 27, 2016)

Entrepreneurs can help fight against climate change: US official

HYDERABAD: It is no longer just governments that have to work towards mitigating the effects of climate change globally, even entrepreneurs should pitch in to provide innovative solutions for the cause, said a top US government official.

"The issue of climate change is an important one and we, along with several other countries, are committed towards it. Now the challenge is about implementing those commitments. T-Hub signed an MoU with the California government's i-Hub network that also works on climate change. Both of these institutions can approach the challenges of climate change in thoughtful and innovative ways," Angela P Aggeler, deputy assistant secretary, bureau of south and central Asian affairs of the US government, said on the sidelines of her visit to the T-Hub here.
(TOI - June 25, 2016)  

State Action Plan of Climate Change launched in Uttarakhand

DEHRADUN: State Action Plan of Climate Change (SAPCC) which has been approved by the Government of India was formally launched in Uttarakhand on Monday with a workshop held among the stakeholders. The plans which would require Rs 8,800 crore will be implemented in two phases, three years each.

Shatrughan Singh, chief secretary present on the occasion said, "The impact of climate change is felt all over the Himalayan region with rising temperatures, scant rainfall, drying springs, landslides, flood, etc. affecting communities and triggering their migration.”

He said, the state needs knowledge based forecast to prepare for emergency situations.
(TOI – June 20, 2016)

Water shortage increasing due to climate change, says Chief Secy

“Drinking water shortage will become grave in Uttarakhand especially in the rural mountain areas due to climate change,” said Shatrughan Singh, Uttarakhand Chief Secretary, while speaking at a workshop on “Reviving Springs in Uttarakhand” organised by People’s Science Institute, Dehradun, with the financial support of Arghyam, Bengaluru, here today.

“In recent years Uttarakhand has experienced low winter rainfall due to climate change. This has accelerated the drying of springs, chal-khals and groundwater seepages. Hence, there is an urgent need to focus on recharging these sources of water for which the state government is willing to join hands with civil society organizations,” he added.
(Tribune India – June 23, 2016)

Traditional irrigation keeps water flowing in drought-hit India

BAKSA, India - Ask the farmers in remote Baksa district, in the northeast Indian state of Assam, whether they are affected by climate change and they usually respond with a look of surprise.

Across much of India, farmers are struggling to adapt as their crops fail season after season as a result of increasingly unpredictable and often dry weather. But in Baksa, along Assam’s border with Bhutan, farmers have never seen their harvest ruined by drought or delayed rainfall, despite having no access to irrigation pipes or water pumps. Their secret is a 100-year-old indigenous irrigation system called dong bandh—a network of canals that uses the downhill flow of the area's rivers and streams to bring water to villagers and their fields.

While the dong bandh system was created before the world recognized the effects of climate change, people in Baksa see it as a prime example of how communities can work together to overcome the challenges of their environment.
(Reuters – June 21, 2016)


India’s ‘Unprecedented’ Plan To Bring Millions Out Of Poverty And Power Them With Clean Energy

An estimated 240 million people (some estimate the total at more than 300 million) located in remote areas of India still do not have access to electricity, according to the International Energy Agency’s 2015 World Energy Outlook. Most of their power comes from kerosene, wood, coal, and cow manure—sources that create serious pollution, especially when used indoors. Lacking access to power constitutes a serious threat to public health. In addition to indoor pollution, having no electricity means there is no refrigeration to store vaccines and drugs, or to make ice for cooling humans and storing food. There is not enough light for childbirth, no way to charge cell phones—a critical lifeline in rural areas during emergencies—or to run fans and water pumps.

India and the United States have been working together to support India’s transition to clean energy, including its goal of deploying 175 gigawatts of renewable energy by 2022, including 100 gigawatts from solar power. Both countries reaffirmed this commitment during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent U.S. visit, listing a series of continued steps that will keep the momentum going.

“We need to see the change on the ground,” said Anjali Jaiswal, senior attorney and director of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s (NRDC) India initiative. “We need to see clean energy taking off, both for the future—for light for kids trying to read—and to mitigate the worst impacts of climate change, which are going to be profoundly felt in India.’’ Noting that India recorded its hottest day ever on May 19—51 degrees Celsius (123.8 Fahrenheit) in a small city in northwest India—she added: “In fact, they already are.”
(Think Progress – June 23, 2016)

Equis to invest $1 billion to double India renewables portfolio

Equis Pte Ltd, a Singapore-based infrastructure investor, plans to pump $1 billion into Indian renewables in the next two years, doubling its portfolio to nearly two gigawatts of wind, solar and hydro energy installations, Chief Executive Officer David Russell said. "It would be our expectation to double our current position within the next 24 months," Russell said in a phone interview from Singapore. 

Equis, a $2.7 billion fund, has 3.6 gigawatts of combined renewable energy capacity in India, Japan, the Philippines and Thailand. The asset developer has approved equity commitments of $630 million to India in the last four years.
(Economic Times – June 23, 2016)

Renewable energy to soon get a separate trading platform

With the increasing share of renewable energy (RE) in the grid and the likelihood of it disturbing the existing power systems, the government is preparing a separate power trading platform.

It is to be jointly developed by the ministry of new and renewable energy (MNRE) and Power Trading Corporation of India (PTC), the latter a joint venture of several entities with the government. The envisaged platform would help states buy, sell and trade renewable-based power.
(Business Standard – June 28, 2016)

India, US to deepen cooperation in clean energy

The US and India will deepen their cooperation in climate and clean energy which offers great economic benefits, US Ambassador to India Richard Verma said on Friday. He believes climate, clean energy and clean water are going to be biggest pathways for cooperation in years ahead.

Speaking at the inaugural of a conference with the theme ‘The future is now: India- From COP 21 to reality’, Verma noted that India’s success is critical to global success and that investment in the global energy sector was expected to reach nearly $17 trillion by 2035, or more than the entire GDP of China and India combined.
(Financial Express – June 24, 2016)

Renewable Energy Has Arrived Energy

Sierra Leone dropping import duties on household solar appliances. Foundations putting up millions of dollars to kick start India’s ambitious renewable energy efforts. Iconic brand companies committing to 100 percent clean energy at facilities worldwide.

India has set a goal of developing 175 gigawatts of wind and solar power by 2022, a marker that will require an estimated $200 billion in investment, much of which will need to come from institutional investors (pension funds, insurance companies, etc.), which are still largely on the sidelines in investing in emerging market clean energy projects. Last year’s clean energy investments in India totaled $10.9 billion.
(EcoWatch - June 20, 2016)

India’s First Certified Green Bond Listed At London Stock Exchange

Earlier this month, the rapidly growing Indian green bonds market achieved yet another milestone.

Privately held Axis Bank announced that it raised $500 billion from the first certified Indian green bond to be listed at an international stock exchange. The green bond was certified by the Climate Bonds Standards Board and is now listed on the London Stock Exchange.
(Clean Technica – June 25, 2016)

Environmental Health and Governance

Study Links 6.5 Million Deaths Each Year to Air Pollution

A sobering report released on Monday by the International Energy Agency says air pollution has become a major public health crisis leading to around 6.5 million deaths each year, with “many of its root causes and cures” found in the energy industry.

The air pollution study is the first for the agency, an energy security group based in Paris, which is expanding its mission under its executive director, Fatih Birol. Mr. Birol, an economist, argues that pressing concerns about climate change and the emergence of countries like China and India as major energy consumers and polluters mean that the agency needs to shift its strategy. “To stay relevant,” he said in an interview on Friday, we “need to work much closer with new emerging energy economies.”
(NYT – June 26, 2015)

China ready to join hands with India in tackling urban pollution: Official

China is ready to share advanced technology, experiences, as well as ‘green’ practices with India to counter the effects of environmental degradation, such as air pollution, caused by the economic development of cities, a top Shanghai foreign affairs official has said.

“It is a fact that environmental pollution is a challenge for cities around the globe and we are all attaching great importance to how we treat the environment. That is why a major consensus has been reached globally to save the environment,” said Fu Jihong, Deputy Director General of the Shanghai Municipal Foreign Affairs Office, while referring to efforts being made worldwide for environmental conservation.
(Indian Express – June 22, 2016)

PM Narendra Modi launches Smart City projects

PUNE: Making a strong pitch to consider urbanisation as an opportunity to mitigate poverty and not as a problem, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said cities have to be strengthened through comprehensive and inter-connected approach combined with increased public participation.

Addressing a gathering here after the launch of projects under government's flagship Smart City mission in 20 cities across the country, he said, "There was a time in our country when urbanisation was considered a big problem. But, I feel differently. We should not consider urbanisation as a problem, but consider it as an opportunity."

As the Prime Minister launched 14 smart city projects in PUNE, and initiated 69 other works in other smart cities in the country, he made a plea for working in a comprehensive, inter-connected and vision-oriented manner and not in piece-meal
(Economic Times – June 25, 2016)

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