India Green News: UN's Montreal Protocol tackles HFCs; PM Narendra Modi makes strong pitch for clean energy at G20 summit; India plans solar army, to train 50,000 people

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

This compilation of the India Green News was authored by Nehmat Kaur.

November 20th – November 28th


200 countries agree to hold informal talks on hydrofluorocarbons issue

New Delhi: A breakthrough in the deadlock over greenhouse gas hydroflurocarbons (HFCs) happened late Wednesday evening at the UN's Montreal Protocol on ozone depleting substances with nearly 200 countries agreeing to hold "informal discussions".

The developing nations fighting to keep HFCs out of the Protocol, which deals with production as well as consumption of ozone depleting gases, were able to buy some time with the European Union proposing an amendment to only hold informal discussions on the contentious issue.

On Wednesday, Jordan was leading the Gulf countries in opposing the formation of contact group for negotiations on HFCs. These countries, along with other developing nations such as Venezuela and Argentina, have not agreed to any formal meetings, or formation of contact groups for negotiations on the issue.

"The deadlock continues but we are better placed today than we were six months ago," Bhaskar Deol, India Representative at the Natural Resources Defense Council, said.

(Hindu Business Line, Nov. 20th, 2014)


India must be active in Lima climate change talks: Experts

New Delhi: India must get actively get involved in the climate change talks to be held in Peru next month, expressing how much it wants as its share in the "carbon budget", or the country's annual flow of emissions, and and setting up time limit to reduce its carbon footprint, experts said Thursday.

The experts also maintained a global political will laced with an ethical approach can limit the effects of climate change.

Adaptation and mitigation are some preventive options to check climate change that must be adhered to by developing as well as developed countries alike in order to be successful in containing the problem, said Navroz K Dubash, a senior fellow of the Centre for Policy Research, at an event organized by Indian Women's Press Corps.

The recently-released Fifth Assessment Report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a scientific intergovernmental body under the auspices of the United Nations, highlights the rising impact on all continents due to human influence on climate system.

(First Post, Nov. 27th, 2014)

Logjam on inclusion of HFCs to continue as India remains silent

PARIS: The six-year-long logjam at the Montreal Protocol on the inclusion of greenhouse gas hydro-flurocarbons (HFCs), used as a coolant for refrigeration, is unlikely to be cleared at the United Nations this year.

India, which had been leading a group of countries, including the Gulf nations, for the last six years in protesting against proposals to amend the protocol to include HFCs, maintained its silence. However, over a dozen countries such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Jordan and Venezuela, are opposed to the formation of a contact group to negotiate the issue of HFCs.

With the formation of an informal group for discussions on the proposed amendment, a breakthrough remains highly unlikely.

While India, like China and Brazil, remained neutral towards the proposed amendment, senior members of the Indian delegation also confirmed that India will not oppose the formation of a contact group, if asked at a later date.

However, if such a proposal was made the country would highlight its demands and concerns, some of which include transfer of technology from the developed countries, monetary support and others.

(Hindu Business Line, Nov. 19th, 2014)

India needs to improve energy efficiency by 2030: UN report

NEW DELHI: Nearly 100,000 premature deaths take place annually due to air pollution in India and some other countries which can be avoided by 2030 by improving energy efficiency measures in transport and industrial sectors, a United Nations report today said.

The fifth Emissions Gap Report 2014 by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), which was released today, said that countries across the globe need to "shrink" greenhouse gas emissions to net zero between 2080 and 2100 in order to limit global temperature rise to two degree Celsius.

The report said that improving energy efficiency can be an excellent opportunity for linking sustainable development with climate mitigation.

Launching the report in India, report co-author and professor at TERI University Ritu Mathur said that given the frequencies observed of extreme events taking place in the world as well as developing countries like India, there is a need to improve the preparedness level as countries like India have lesser coping capacities with such extreme events.

(Business Standard, Nov. 21st, 2014


PM Narendra Modi makes strong pitch for clean energy at G20 summit

NEW DELHI: With India getting ready to give a big push to tap solar energy in the next six to eight years, the Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday pitched for a global effort to make clean energy available to all through concerted actions which can be a major economic opportunity for all countries across the globe. 

He articulated his point in his statement on energy at G20 summit in Brisbane, Australia. 

Seeking collective R&D effort and collaboration in the direction of having clean energy path, Modi urged the leaders of big economies to set up a "global virtual centre" for clean energy research and development, with adequate public funding, which will fund collaborative projects in diverse sources of clean energy, smart grids and energy efficiency. 

His remarks came at the time when his government is planning to target up to 100,000 MW of solar generation by 2022, far more than an existing 20,000 MW target by 2020. 

(Times of India, Nov. 16th, 2014)

India plans solar army, to train 50,000 people

NEW DELHI: The government is planning to train around 50,000 people in areas related to solar power—a so-called solar army that would help India achieve ambitious targets in harnessing the power of the sun.

The workforce will be trained through organizations such as the industrial training institutes (ITIs) under the government’s national skill development mission. While India has a solar generation capacity of 2,900 MW, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government has substantially revised an earlier target of achieving 20,000 MW capacity by 2022 to 1,00,000 MW.

This would require an investment of around Rs.6.5 trillion over five years.

“For us to achieve this ambitious target, there will be a requirement of land, labour and capital. This 50,000-strong solar army will be provided three to six months training in the solar energy related areas, which will also prepare them for the job opportunities that the sector will have to offer,” a government official said, requesting anonymity. “On the other hand, they will help meet the sector’s demand for a workforce.”

(Live Mint, Nov. 19th, 2014)

IEX sees sluggish demand for renewable energy certificates

NEW DELHI: Reflecting sluggish demand, Indian Energy Exchange this month saw sale of just over 93,000 renewable energy certificates out of nearly 52 lakh that were available. 

The total number of sale bids, together in solar and non-solar segments, stood at around 51.88 lakh during the REC trading session held on Wednesday. 

However, REC trading activities this month were better than in October when only about 36,000 such certificates were sold. 

The session yesterday saw trading of 93,100 non-solar and 245 solar RECs, the exchange said in a statement today. 

Renewable energy certificates are used as instruments to help entities meet the Renewable Purchase Obligation set by states. One REC is equivalent to 1 MWh of energy generated from renewable sources. 

(Business Standard, Nov. 27th, 2014)

Indian Factories Will Count and Sell Their Energy Savings

SAN FRANCISCO: India, the world’s third-largest producer of greenhouse gas, after China and the United States, has resisted international pressure to commit to capping planet-warming emissions. But when it comes to saving energy, India is moving ahead briskly.

Its innovative and closely watched program called Perform, Achieve and Trade, is designed to encourage hundreds of the nation’s largest industrial plants to keep their energy use in check.

The program sets a goal of cutting energy use an average of about 4 percent per unit of output at the factories. Those that save extra energy can sell their savings to plants that fail to meet their targets. It is a market-style system akin to cap-and-trade, but the “cap” is an energy efficiency target. Linking the savings to output lets India reduce the intensity of energy use but still increase production to meet its needs as a developing nation.

“What’s being launched is a national program of trading in certificates representing energy savings,” said Noah Sachs, a law professor at the University of Richmond in Virginia, who spent the spring studying the program. “It’s really interesting. There’s no other country in the world that’s doing this so ambitiously.”

(NY Times, Nov. 26th, 2014)

Environmental Health & Governance

India court slams Delhi's worsening air pollution

NEW DELHI: India’s environment court has slammed the government over the capital’s horrendous air pollution, which it said was “getting worse” every day, and ordered a string of measures to bring it down.

The National Green Tribunal directed all vehicles older than 15 years be taken off New Delhi roads, pollution checks undertaken for all state-run buses and air purifiers installed at the city’s busy markets.

Environmentalists welcomed the decision, saying policymakers were failing to heed the “emergency” facing the city of 17 million people.

“We applaud the tribunal’s urgency on Delhi’s pollution which is reaching toxic levels,” Chandra Bhushan, deputy director general of the Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment.

“But the measures need to go further to deal with issues like the 1,000 new vehicles coming on to the roads each day,” he told AFP.

“The government has a legal obligation to introduce the tribunal’s measures,” he added.

(The Guardian, Nov. 27th, 2014)

'Leapfrog to cleaner norms'

NEW DELHI: A day after National Green Tribunal gave a detailed order for tackling air pollution in Delhi, the agencies tasked to do so seemed to be in a haze. In fact, some officials claimed they were yet to read the order which has asked for a complete ban on more than 15-year-old vehicles. Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) and the environment department of Delhi government - which have been entrusted with implementation of several directions, including creating a web portal where citizens can upload pictures or complaints of open burning or other pollution-related issues, and exploring the possibility of installing air purifiers in markets - said they need time to study the order. 

"Let the officials read the order first. We will try to implement whatever the Tribunal has directed us to do," said Sanjiv Kumar, secretary, environment. Other officials, however, seemed less enthusiastic. "We are already busy with other orders of NGT. I am not sure how such elaborate directions can be implemented in Delhi," said another official.

Activists are more hopeful. Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) has appealed to NGT to broaden the scope of its order. "We appeal for more stringent measures to bring down the severe peak pollution levels in Delhi. The city needs stronger action to reduce vehicle numbers, scale up walking, cycling and public transport, and leapfrog to clean emission standards," said a CSE statement on Thursday. 

(Times of India, Nov. 28th, 2014)