India | Centre for Science and Environment

India


The Earth for you

Down To Earth is a product of our passion for change. But it would not have made it to its 23rd anniversary without your continued commitment. Our desire is to bring you news and perspectives on the state of the environment and explain why it needs attention. It is clear to us that as we produce each issue—this is 552nd edition—the struggle for a green, but prosperous, world is getting more intense, contested and difficult. It is also clear that if we do not have independent and credible sources of information, we cannot even begin to move towards resolution.

Time for new environmentalism

 2014 has brought India’s environmental movement to a crossroad. On the one hand, there is a greater acceptance of our concerns, but on the other hand, there is also growing resistance against the required action. More importantly, every indicator shows that things on the ground are getting worse. Our rivers are more polluted, more garbage is piling up in our cities, air is increasingly toxic and hazardous waste is just dumped, not managed. Worse, people who should have been in the front line of protection are turning against the environment.

CSE, experts demand more rights for communities over forests in India - Nepal and Mexico show the way

  • India’s forest laws are colonial that have alienated communities from their land and resources. Under the current Forest Rights Act of 2006, the government allows gram sabhas to manage and protect forests. However, community rights have been recognised only over 2.5 million hectare (ha) of forests while Forest Survey of India report has identified 31 million ha of forests within revenue villages

Real pride of ancient indian science

I write this with considerable impatience and one question. Do we really have the time to waste on controversies like what ancient India did or did not achieve by way of scientific discoveries? This is when there is the huge unfinished agenda to use the best of science to tackle current challenges and crises.

Walk the talk on carbon tax, Mr Finance Minister

Budget 2015, presented by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, has a first. In it, India has accepted that it has a de-facto carbon tax—on petroleum products and dirty coal. Arguably, the only big green initiative of this budget is the increase of cess on coal—from Rs 100 per tonne to Rs 200 per tonne. But the question is: is this carbon tax, imposed on the carbon content of fuel, doing what it should—reduce greenhouse gas emissions that are responsible for climate change?

India’s climate strategy needs revision

 Climate change negotiations are by now predictable. The already-industrialised come to each conference of the parties (COP) with a clear game plan, that is, to erase their contribution to the emissions already present in the atmosphere, thereby effectively remove the differentiation between their responsibility and that of the rest of the world to act. This would rewrite the 1992 convention on climate change and let them evade the obligation to provide funds and technology for action in the developing world.

So that we can breathe easy

THE EASIEST way to clear air pollution is to not know how bad it is. This is what India practices—in most parts of the country. There is virtually no equipment to monitor the air we breathe and no system that tells us what we should do when pollution levels are up and unhealthy.

Last call to get climate deal right

The Indian government must not use “equity” to block climate change negotiations. It must be proactive on equity and put forward a position on how to operationalise the sharing of the carbon budget—accounting for countries’ contribution to past emissions and allocating future space—in climate talks.

I wrote this last year when the UPA government was in power. I am repeating this as the NDA government prepares for the next conference of parties (CoP) to be held in December in Peru.

Making sense of green building rating

The building sector is set to grow exponentially. It already has a huge environmental footprint, with the domestic and commercial sectors consuming some 30 per cent of India’s electricity. So, the imperative to go green is clear. The question is where India is and where it should go.

The Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) has issued the Energy Conservation Building Code (ECBC) to improve the energy performance of buildings by 40-60 per cent. But the use of the code in design is not linked to the actual performance of the building after it has been commissioned.

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