International Climate News October: Hints for Paris Emerge at Climate Summit, NRDC Releases New Indian Reports & More

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The turnout for the peoples climate march was massive and historical by all standards. 400,000 people came, marched and demanded action on climate change in New York. The event brought together an estimated 400,000 passionate citizens and over 1,574 organizations to New York. People at the march voiced their frustrations and concerns and pushed for action on the part of global leaders to address climate change. The diversity of the marchers was incredible, as people came from all walks of life to add their voices and faces to the campaign (as captured by the New York Times).

A similar call-to-action was heard across several countries with an estimated 40,000 participants on the street in London, tens of thousands in Australia, and events happening in over 160 countries.


As I discussed, the climate summit focused leaders on the work ahead for Paris and highlighted important new dynamics as leaders seek to finalize a new international agreement next year. There are three key conditions for success in Paris that became obvious in New York: (1) the public cares; (2) key leaders showed promising signs that they are prepared to take bold action next year; and (3) we are starting to deploy all the tools in the toolbox – and then some.

For example: the summit led to the declaration by governments, multinationals and campaigners to halt the loss of the world’s natural forests by 2030China’s announced that its emissions will peak “as soon as possible”; the US signaled that it will take a leadership role in international negotiations, and countries started to make pledges to the Green Climate Fund. Prior to the Summit my colleague from our China team pointed out that China can rise to the challenge on climate change and air pollution and my colleague from our India team outlined the key steps that India is taking.


In an issue brief released during the US-India summit, NRDC and its India partner organization, CEEW, outlined the job-creation opportunities that renewable energy presents to India, now and in the future.  Government surveys estimated 45,000 jobs were created by 2012 from wind energy alone. The solar energy industry, according to our report on the Employment Potential in India’s Grid-Connected Solar Market, created over 23,000 jobs between 2011 and 2014. To keep this job-creation momentum going forward, we outlined how the India government can reenergize India’s solar energy market through financing. In a series of issue briefs, NRDC and its partners are recommending the development of innovative government financial mechanisms together with other means such as: encouraging more domestic banks to see business opportunities in the renewable industry; piloting green bonds and establishing green banks; ensuring timely implementation of solar projects.  We also see wind energy in the India market as vital to its diversification. Our report on Financing Mechanisms to Support India’s National Wind Energy Mission encourages the India government to build on policies that attract more incentives. As we concluded in our report on Creating Green Jobs, a strong and stable wind industry is crucial if India is to achieve energy security and reach its goal of a 15 percent share of renewables in the energy mix by 2020.


Positive news emerged out of the US-India Summit in Washington DC, where Modi and Obama forged a greener US-India partnership. My colleague, Anjali Jaiswal, writes that both leaders made positive steps in taking critical action on climate change issues, and as two of the biggest energy consumers and the largest democracies in the world, they have a unique role to play in taking immediate joint action to combat climate change. The Washington Post describes the US-India joint efforts as measures intended to accelerate India’s shift to renewable fuels.
Prior to this important meeting, we made the case that the two countries could take important steps together to address climate change and spur clean energy investments. We pointed out that they could: scale clean energy and jobs, construct energy efficient cities, and make progress on heat-trapping HFCs.


The NRDC China Coal Cap Project is continuing the advance its analysis and recommendations on how to adopt coal consumption cap (for full list of partners and key advisory panels made up of leading Chinese researchers and policymakers):

  • NRDC research coordination team discussed with the three Energy Research Institute partners the three overarching scenarios of the project: the top-down national scenario, the key coal-consuming industries scenario, and the bottom-up constraints-based scenario. The team also discussed the total coal consumption cap targets;
  • The research coordination team finalized the total coal consumption cap targets for 2015, 2020, 2030, and beyond for the project;
  • The team held a press conference to introduce two research papers entitled “International Experience in Coal Consumption Reduction and Clean Coal Development” and “New Outlook on Energy Security and Asian Energy Governance Institutions.”
  • The green finance sub-project held an expert review session to analyze issues with the existing energy (coal) industry financial system (especially on green credit and financing optimization), considered how to improve coal-specific green credit mechanism, and proposed policy recommendations on management and supervision. 
  • The coal cap project will hold a major international conference. The Coal Consumption Cap and Energy Transition International Workshop in Beijing on November 17-18 will include over 400 representatives from project partners, government decision-making agencies, domestic and international research organizations, the private sector, NGOs, and the media (please click here to see the draft agenda).  


Already, the India government seems poised to take big strides towards becoming a greener economy and a leader on climate change, announcing an expansion of its flagship solar program, the National Solar Mission (NSM). India’s solar cities program needs to overcome some key challenges including the existence of significant transmission and distribution losses associated with grid electricity and a palpable lack of high quality reliable power in India. But decentralized energy could help overcome some of these challenges. Newly-announced initiatives between the U.S. and India should also help make progress on increasing clean energy access

The retrofitting of the Mahindra towers through the ESCO model shows how energy bills could be reduced with no upfront cost. This case study adds to the series of studies that show building energy efficiency can be deployed in India on a variety of types of buildings and through various implementation models.

Transforming Cities: Building Efficiency Lessons from Hyderabad, a new NRDC and ASCI report, was released at the “Cities for All” XI Metropolis World Congress in Hyderabad. Leading Building Efficiency Expert, Mona Yew shared insights from the experience in China, which has attained a 95% compliance rate with building codes in the last few years. The report discusses the opportunity in Indian cities to save energy and costs through energy efficiency.


In 2013, NRDC partnered with the Indian Institute of Public Health and the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation, along with a coalition of academic, health and environmental groups, to create a Heat Action Plan for the city of Ahmedabad in Western India. This was in response to a 2010 deadly heat wave that hit the city, resulting in loss of life and huge health consequences for the city's residents. NRDC and our partners recently released a video of the Ahmedabad's Heat Action Plan to highlight this groundbreaking project, presented in India as well as at climate adaptation conferences in Cleveland and Kuala Lumpur.


Positive news emerged from the US as industry leaders made pledges to reduce HFCs. A key and valuable part of the commitment made by these industry leaders is an initiative to modernize state and local building codes that currently pose obstacles to some of the most climate-friendly coolants. My colleague further writes that the action taken by the White House sends a message to the rest of the world that the US is taking a leading role in phasing out HFCs for better alternatives.


A release of the much anticipated first draft amendment to the Air Pollution Law happened on September 9, by China’s Legislative Affairs Office. My colleague writes that it provided the hope that blue skies won’t always be so fleeting. Public comments are currently been received, and that in itself is a big step for China. Few critical elements have also been incorporated into the draft amendment, including: improving the air pollutant emissions control system; clarifying the responsibility of governments for environmental protection; establishing a heavy pollution weather monitoring forecast system; and increasing the strength of penalties.

NRDC, Beijing Energy Conservation Environmental Protection Center (BEEC), and  Clean Air Alliance of China co-organized the Sino-U.S. Clean Air Policy and Technology Seminar which focused on helping Beijing address its pressing air pollution problem.

NRDC and long-time partner, Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs (IPE), released a Corporate Information Transparency Index (CITI) on July 12th. The CITI is a new quantitative evaluation system designed to measure a brand’s performance in tracking and sharing information about the environmental impacts of their supply chains in China. The index ranked 147 high-profile multinational and Chinese companies on measures such as procurement criteria and environmental information disclosure. The report is available in both English and Chinese.


NRDC released an evaluation report on the walkability of 35 Chinese cities, aimed to raise public and government awareness of pedestrian-friendliness for low-carbon urban transportation. We found Hong Kong to be the most walkable and Shenzhen, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Dalian among the top five. Beijing fell quite behind due to its super block street system, high level of car ownership, and air pollution. Our report received extensive coverage by Chinese media (paper, social, radio), including a full page discussion on a popular Beijing newspaper and our full report published on government’s official “China Development” online portal.

According to a new study by researchers from the Global Carbon Project, China has now surpassed the EU in per capita emissions (see the BBC story).


In a recent blog my colleague discusses the new pledges made by a host of Latin American countries at the just ended UN Climate Summit to address climate change related issues in the region. Promises were made to recover 350 million hectares of degraded lands, as well as commitments to reduce deforestation by half by 2020, and completely stopping the deforestation by 2030. As she indicates in her blog, countries such as Mexico, Peru, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Chile, Colombia, and Dominican Republican have signed on to these pledges.

From Mexico City, Mexico to Lima, Peru, urban areas in Latin America are taking actions to address the impacts of climate change in major cities.  As my colleague discusses in her article, 46 Latin American cities out of 207 cities around the world surveyed, found that most people felt their cities could face negative impacts from climate change, and the majority of them agreed that it made economic sense to take sensible actions to addressing climate change. In Mexico City, financial resources are being provided to help outfit social housing with green technology. In Lima, they are looking at integrated management of its river basins as well as using treated wastewater for irrigation.

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