India | Centre for Science and Environment

India


New business for new renewables

It was a trade exhibition abuzz with the restrained chatter of busy suited executives at company stalls making contacts and finalising deals. Nothing out of place except that this trade was about renewable energy technologies, which have unconventional reasons for growth. First, these technologies are seen as the most economical and feasible source of energy for millions of people unconnected to the electricity grid and having no electricity to light their houses or cook their food. This energy poverty is disabling and needs to be eradicated.

The inconvenient truth

Many years ago, in a desperately poor village in Rajasthan, people decided to plant trees on the land adjoining their pond so that its catchment would be protected. But this land belonged to the revenue department and people were fined for trespass. The issue hit national headlines. The stink made the local administration uncomfortable. They then came up with a brilliant game plan—they allotted the land to a group of equally poor people. In this way the poor ended up fighting the poor. The local government got away with the deliberate murder of a water body.

Why excreta matters

Water is life and sewage tells its life story. This is the subject of the Citizens’ Seventh Report on the State of India’s Environment, Excreta Matters: How urban India is soaking up water, polluting rivers and drowning in its own excreta. It has a seemingly simple plot: it only asks where Indian cities get their water from and where does their waste go. But this is not just a question or answer about water, pollution and waste. It is about the way Indian cities (and perhaps other parts of the world that are similarly placed) will develop.

From protests to where in 2012?

2011’s person of the year, according to Time magazine, is “the protester”. Clearly, this is the image that has captured the world—from dissent against the lack of democracy and repression in large parts of West Asia to anger against economic policies in vast and disparate parts of the world. People, all over, are saying enough is enough. But what will happen to these voices in the coming years? Will the movements of protesters be enough to change the way the world runs its business? Do these movements even know what they want?

Equity: the next frontier in climate talks

In 1992, when the world met to discuss an agreement on climate change, equity was a simple concept: sharing the global commons—the atmosphere in this case—equally among all. It did not provoke much anxiety, for there were no real claimants. However, this does not mean the concept was readily accepted. A small group of industrialised countries had burnt fossil fuels for 100 years and built up enormous wealth. This club had to decide what to do to cut emissions, and it claimed all countries were equally responsible for the problem. In 1991, just as the climate convention was being finalised, a report, released by an influential Washington think tank, broke the news that its analysis showed India, China and other developing countries were equally responsible for greenhouse gases. Anil Agarwal and I rebutted this and brought in the issue of equitable access to the global commons. We also showed, beyond doubt, that the industrialised countries were singularly responsible for the increased greenhouse gases.

Indian environment minister Jayanthi Natarajan gives hard hitting speech, receives standing ovation

Durban, December 9: Following is the text of the minister's speech:

Indaba Session:December 10, 2011 – 1800 hrs

Remarks by Smt. Jayanthi Natarajan, Hon’ble Minister for Environment & Forests

Thank you Madam Chair. I do not know how to start. I have heard people across the room carefully. I am from India and I represent 1.2 billion people. My country has a tiny per capita carbon footprint of 1.7 ton and our per capita GDP is even lower.

REDD+: India goes all out on safeguards, Tuvalu plays spoilsport

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Durban, December 8, 2011: At the deliberations on REDD+ in the meetings of the SBSTA (Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice), India has reportedly devoted its time and energy in ensuring safeguards for the rights of indigenous communities and for conserving natural forests, giving the lie to the impression that nothing was being done on the issue. In fact, Indian negotiators point out that of the three elements under discussion in the SBSTA (safeguards, MRV and benchmarks), safeguards is the only one which has been thoroughly discussed.

Jeez, Mr.Stern: 2 degree C target is just a guidepost?

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Durban, December 7: Transcript of the US press briefing by Todd Stern, Durban, December 7, 2011

Todd Stern: Negotiations are continuing...Both Kyoto and what happens in the future, questions and the issues relating to implementation of Cancun Agreement... Let me take your questions.

New AWG-LCA text out!

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Durban, December 7: It is a humdinger.  At 138 pages of bracketed text, and paragraph shifts, this exemplar of sharp and concise decision-making is longer than the one the Chair circulated on Saturday, December 3, 2011.

Let’s look at an immediately notable ‘change’ between the two drafts, for now only in the text related to ‘A shared vision for long-term cooperative action’.

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