India Green News: India Emerged as Key Player in 2016 & More

India Green News: India emerged as key player in 2016 on climate issues; India committed to goals on renewable energy; Air pollution causes 1.2 million deaths in India annually

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

January 1 – 19, 2017

Climate Change

India emerged as key player in 2016 on climate issues

India positioned itself as a major player in 2016 in the fight against global warming, ratifying the historic Paris agreement and also playing a ‘constructive’ role in the Marrakesh climate summit to ensure actions are based on principles of ‘equity and climate justice’. Anil Madhav Dave, who took charge of the Environment Ministry in July, led the Indian delegation at the Marrakesh summit and also oversaw the signing ceremony of Framework Agreement on International Solar Alliance, to which over 20 countries are signatories.

The ISA was jointly launched in 2015 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and French President Francois Hollande at the CoP21 in Paris. It is an alliance of 121 solar resource-rich countries lying fully or partially between the tropic of Cancer and tropic of Capricorn. Countries including India at the Marrakesh climate change summit agreed to conclude the framing of rules for the implementation of Paris agreement by 2018.

(The Indian Express – January 4, 2017)

India committed to goals on renewable energy: Piyush Goyal

India is committed to meet its renewable energy goals and is not bothered about US president-elect Donald Trump's skepticism on policies related to climate change, Piyush Goyal, India's minister of state with independent charge for power, coal, new and renewable energy and mines, told delegates at the 2017 Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week.

Goyal was asked whether Trump's negative stand on global warming will influence India to change its plans of becoming a global hub for renewable energy. "India doesn't interfere in any other country's elections and we respect the fact that America has chosen its leader," Goyal said. "However, clean energy is not something that we are working on because somebody else wants us to do it. It's a matter of faith and the faith of the leadership in India. Nothing on Earth is going to stop us from doing that."

(Times of India – January 18, 2017)


Suresh Prabhu unveils Mission 41k energy plan for railways

In a  bid to revamp the Indian railways, Railway minister Suresh Prabhu on Tuesday unveiled Mission 41k, a plan that would save Rs 41,000 crore over 10 years through an integrated energy management system, reported Livemint.

In this initiative, railways will electrify 24,000 km of rail tracks over the next five years by doubling the annual rate of electrification from 2,000 km to 4,000 km in the next two years.

The railways will award contracts on engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) model for railway electrification projects, to achieve this target. It also plans to mechanise the execution through self-propelled wiring trains among other initiatives.

(Business Standard – January 18, 2017)

Indian receives FDIs worth $1.77 billion in renewable energy in over two years 

Government today said India received $ 1.77 billion foreign direct investment (FDI) in non-conventional energy sector from April 2014 to September 2016. 

"Total FDI equity inflow in the non-conventional energy sector during April 2014 to September 2016 was $ 1.77 billion," the Commerce and Industry Ministry said in a statement. 

According to the statement, 100 per cent FDI is allowed under automatic route for projects of renewable power generation and distribution subject to provisions of the Electricity Act, 2003. 

(Economic Times – January 18, 2017)

India may be a bright spot for global solar markets this year

India may be a bright spot for global solar markets this year as it adds capacity at a record pace, becoming one of the top regions for panel producers struggling with rock-bottom prices.

India is expected to add nearly twice as much new solar as last year, outpacing once-booming Japan, according to forecasts by Bloomberg New Energy Finance. China, the world’s largest renewables market, will see solar growth dip by about a fifth after peaking in 2016, London-based BNEF predicts.

Bolstered by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ambitious clean-energy goals, India’s rising appetite for solar power spells good news for Chinese solar cell and module manufacturers including Trina Solar Ltd. and Hanwha Q Cells Co. It comes after the global spot market price for solar panels fell to a record low amid slowing demand elsewhere.

(Bloomberg – January 18, 2017)

India to end coal imports in ‘next few years’

On Wednesday, Piyush Goyal tweeted the news that India’s imports had dropped by a quarter in 2016 and said the country “aims to eliminate coal dependency in the next few years”.

The import drop comes as state-owned Coal India ramps up domestic production, despite the government drawing back on a short-lived billion tonne per year target in September last year due to slack demand.

The news will hearten campaigners in Australia who oppose the building of a massive new coal mine by Indian company Adani. The economics of the Carmichael mine have been justified by claims of sustained demand in India. The Australian government has pledged $1bn to support the mine.

(Climate Home – January 18, 2017)

Environmental Health and Air Pollution

Air pollution causes 1.2 million deaths in India annually; Delhi most polluted: Greenpeace report

As many as 1.2 million deaths take place every year due to air pollution in India, a Greenpeace India report published today says.

Greenpeace's report, titled 'Airpocalypse,' says Delhi is India's most polluted city.

The report is based on information obtained through online reports and Right to Information applications from State Pollution Control Boards across India, and assessments of air quality performed in 168 cities across 24 states and Union Territories. It claims that none of the 168 cities assessed complies with air quality standards prescribed by the World Health Organization (WHO).

It says the number of deaths in India caused by air pollution is only a "fraction less" than the number of deaths caused by tobacco usage, and adds that three per cent of the GDP is lost due to air pollution.

"We are facing an apocalypse right now due to unbreathable air, deaths due to air pollution are only a fraction less than those due to use of tobacco yet authorities are laying a deaf ear to the numerous scientific reports that have set alarm bells ringing," said Sunil Dahiya, campaigner, Greenpeace India.

(The Times of India – January 11, 2017)

Delhi air pollution: Why graded action is a good idea, but tough to implement

The union Environment Ministry last week notified a "Graded Response Action Plan" against air pollution for Delhi and the National Capital Region. The plan puts governments under the lens and holds out the promise of improvement in air quality, if followed properly. But it also faces huge challenges of implementation.

What does a ‘graded response’ to air pollution mean?

A graded response lays down stratified actions that are required to be taken as and when the concentration of pollutants, in this case particulate matter, reaches a certain level.

At the level of 100 microgrammes per cubic metre of PM 2.5, for example, mechanised sweeping and water-sprinkling along roads has to start. Traffic police personnel have to ensure smooth flow of traffic, and all pollution control measures that are already in place—such as stopping landfill fires, and enforcing Pollution Under Control (PUC) norms and a ban on firecrackers—have to be imposed strictly.

(The Indian Express – January 18, 2017)

Air pollution caused 80,665 premature deaths in Delhi and Mumbai in 2015

Air pollution caused the premature death of around 80,665 adults above 30 years of age in Delhi and Mumbai in 2015, a new study by the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, has revealed. The number has seen a two-fold jump from 1995.

Economically, air pollution had cost both cities around 0.71 percent of India's gross domestic product, which is approximately Rs 70,000 crores, in 2015. The toll on health and productivity due to exposure to air pollution leading to respiratory ailments had also increased. The calculation was based on the data on PM 10 (fine particulate matter measuring 10 microns), population and death rates, the Times of India reported.

The number of premature deaths in Delhi was higher than Mumbai due to its increased levels of PM10 from vehicle exhaust, construction dust and other industrial processes. The death toll increased to 48,651 in 2015 from 19,716 in 1995 as compared to Mumbai, where casualties from pollution increased from 19,291 in 1995 to 32,014 in 2015.

(International Business Times – January 19, 2017)

Only two buses for every 1000 people in India: CSE Report

Despite the growing emphasis on public transport across the country, India has only two buses for every 1,000 people according to a report released by an environmental NGO here today. 

"On an average, India has only two buses for every 1,000 people—this is despite the growing emphasis on public transport as cities across the country succumb to severe air pollution.

"Many water bodies in India are now severely polluted. Three of Rajasthan's most well-known lakes - the Jalmahal, Jaisamand and Udaisagar—are in a list of the most severely polluted water bodies of India, with BOD levels above the safe limit of 3 mg/l3," says the State of India's Environment Report 2017 released by Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) DG DG Sunita Narain at the Jaipur Literature Festival here.

(Business Standard – January 19, 2017)

Panel to chalk out course of action on tackling air pollution in Delhi-NCR

The Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) will hold a meeting of various stakeholders in the National Capital Region (NCR) on Friday to chalk out a course of action on tackling air pollution in the region. EPCA has been notified as the nodal agency to implement the comprehensive action against pollution in Delhi-NCR.

Last month, the Supreme Court had approved a graded action plan to tackle air pollution in Delhi and adjoining regions. The plan’s main aim is to institutionalize measures to tackle air pollution emergencies in the capital giving a clear direction about steps to be taken by central and state authorities.

“The authority (EPCA) has been notified as the implementation agency. A meeting of all stakeholders has been called on Friday to discuss the implementation plan. We would also look at the air quality forecast for the next week to decide on the action,” said Sunita Narain, who is EPCA’s member and also the director-general of Centre for Science & Environment, a non-governmental organization working on environment-related issues….

(Livemint – January 20, 2017)

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.

Compiled by Laasya Bhagavatula