Important steps taken by the Government for preservation of biodiversity and resources
Survey, inventorization, taxonomic validation and threat assessment of floral and faunal resources;
Assessment of the forest cover to develop an accurate database for planning and monitoring;
Establishment of a Protected Area Network of National Parks, Wildlife Sanctuaries, Conservation and Community Reserves;
Designating Biosphere Reserves for conservation of representative ecosystems;
Undertaking of species oriented programmes, such as Project Tiger and Project Elephant; complemented with ex-situ conservation efforts.
In addition, Biological Diversity Act 2002 has also been enacted with the aim to conserve biological resources of the country and regulation of access to these resources to ensure equitable sharing of benefits arising out of their use, under which a National Biodiversity Authority and State Biodiversity Boards in all States have been set up for implementing the provisions of the Act.
The Government has put in place several measures towards ensuring that interventions and activities in forest areas do no adversely affect the biodiversity. For ensuring protection of flora and fauna within protected areas, Management Plans are prepared by State Forest Departments which inter alia include a schedule of activities to be taken up over a period of ten years.
The Wild Life (Protection) Act 1972 provides for diligence to be taken before approval of any activity is accorded by the State Government within a protected area.
Other measures of protection
In addition, the Central Government provides financial assistance to States and Union Territories under Centrally Sponsored Schemes such as: Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitat; Project Tiger, and Project Elephant for better protection and conservation of wildlife and their habitat; and Identification of Forest Management Scheme towards protection and management of forests.
The Government supports conservation of some prioritised/threatened medicinal plants harboured in specially designated Medicinal Plants Conservation Areas (MPCAs) that are primarily forested areas.
The National Afforestation & Eco-development Board of the Ministry promotes afforestation, tree planting, ecological restoration and eco-development activities in the country, with special attention to degraded areas as well as ecologically fragile areas.
Notwithstanding these measures, various non-forestry activities undertaken in forest areas for mining, industries, hydel power development, irrigation dams, railways, roads and other essential developmental activities may lead to destruction of forests and biodiversity in the diverted forest areas.
In order to compensate this loss of forest areas and biodiversity, compensatory afforestation on equivalent non forest land is done to compensate the loss of forest and biodiversity and such non forest lands are declared as Protected Forests/Reserve Forests under Indian Forest Act 1927.
In case of Central Government PSU projects, compensatory afforestation is done over twice the area of degraded forest area at the cost of user agency to improve and conserve the biodiversity in the degraded forest.
World Wildlife Day is celebrated on 3 March which is the day of signature of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora(CITES). It celebrates and raise awareness of the world’s wild animals and plants. Similarly, it reminds us of the vital need to step up the fight against wildlife crime, which has widespread economic, environmental and social impacts. A report by INTERPOL estimates that the wildlife trade is between 7 billion to 23 billion.
World Wildlife Day | Wildlife Protection in India
All signatories who have adopted to CITES are efficiently preserving their wildlife. In India there is a dedicated law named theWildlife Protection Act, 1972 which is seldom followed. The essential amount of protection which should be given to an animal is not in place.
Unfortunately, the conservation of wildlife is focused only on mainstream animals like tiger, lion, elephant, rhinoceros etc. India has a huge biodiversity which exists beyond these animals but there are little efforts towards the protection of it. These species need to be conserved.
The issue with the Wildlife Protection Act is that there are only 6 schedules and the number of species covered is minuscule whereas the recorded number of species in India is extensive.
There is almost nil awareness about the wildlife which is a flaw in the policy. In this effort of protection of wildlife, the preference has to be given to the species which are endangered. Whereas in the Wildlife Protection Act, the protection to the Schedule 1 animal is more as compared with the other schedules. It doesn’t mean that the animals in the other schedules need no protection, they should also be protected equally.
It should be realised that we have limited landmass and we need to accommodate our population of humans and wildlife. It would also depend on how human beings react to the issue of wildlife, who are not active participants in either government or civil society groups like NGO’s.
World Wildlife Day | What should be done?
To enhance an efficient protection of our biodiversity, we should bring the species recorded by Zoological Survey of India annually, into the mainstream so that they are conserved in an efficient manner.
All the constituent species have to be in a very healthy state and all species have to coexist in a healthy ecosystem. For instance, the tiger can only exist when the constituent species in the ecosystem wouldHence, there should be equal focus on tiger and other species in the ecosystem.
It is good that we have a stringent law for the wildlife protection but rather than celebrating the Wildlife day as a one-day event the Wildlife protection has to be sustained throughout the year.
Government can enhance the scale of awareness campaign at the state, district and at the local level. It is a fact that people do not even know whom to approach whenever any wildlife related crime takes place which have needs to be addressed immediately.
It is well-known that mindset can be shaped at the elementary level itself. Unfortunately, the teachings about environment conservation in schools are confined only to the syllabus and textbooks with little student-teacher participation. We should take the children to the forest and biodiversity areas and enhance their learning experience to make them realise the true potential of our rich biodiversity.
Unplanned urbanisation is taking the shape of man-animal conflict and we can not find fault of wild animals in this issue. Rather than merely protecting the protected areas, National parks, wildlife sanctuaries and biosphere reserves we should to conserve the entire The issue of man-animal conflict would also be reduced and the larger biodiversity would be protected in return.
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, today approved the enhancement of capacity from 20,000 MW to 40,000 MW of the Scheme for Development of Solar Parks and Ultra Mega Solar Power Projects.
Solar Parks | Background
Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) is already implementing a scheme for development of at least 25 solar parks with an aggregate capacity of 20,000 MW, which was launched in December 2014. As on date, 34 solar parks of aggregate capacity 20,000 MW have been approved which are at various stages of development.
Solar Parks| About the scheme
The Solar Parks and Ultra Mega Solar Power Projects will be set up by 2019-20 with Central Government financial support of Rs.8100 crores. The total capacity when operational will generate 64 billion units of electricity per year which will lead to abatement of around 55 million tonnes of CO2 per year over its life cycle.
The enhanced capacity would ensure setting up of at least 50 solar parks each with a capacity of 500 MW and above in various parts of the country.
Smaller parks in Himalayan and other hilly States where contiguous land may be difficult to acquire in view of the difficult terrain, will also be considered under the scheme.
The capacity of the solar park scheme has been enhanced after considering the demand for additional solar parks from the States.
Solar Parks | Significance of the scheme
It would contribute to long term energy security of the country and promote ecologically sustainable growth by reduction in carbon emissions and carbon footprint, as well as generate large direct & indirect employment opportunities in solar and allied industries like glass, metals, heavy industrial equipment etc.
The solar parks will also provide productive use of abundant uncultivable lands which in turn facilitate development of the surrounding areas.
Solar Parks | Criteria for participation
All the States and UTs are eligible for benefits under the scheme.
The State Government will first nominate the Solar Power Park Developer (SPPD) and also identify the land for the proposed solar park.
It will then send a proposal to MNRE for approval along with the name of the SPPD.
The SPPD will then be sanctioned a grant of upto Rs.25 Lakh for preparing a Detailed Project Report (DPR) of the Solar Park. Thereafter, Central Financial Assistance (CFA) of up to Rs. 20 lakhs/MW or 30 percent of the project cost including Grid-connectivity cost, whichever is lower, will be released as per the milestones prescribed in the scheme.
Solar Energy Corporation India (SECI) will administer the scheme under the direction of MNRE. The approved grant will be released by SECI.
The solar parks will be developed in collaboration with State Governments/UTs. The State Governments/UTs are required to select the SPPD for developing and maintaining the solar parks.
Cabinet approves ratification of the Second Commitment Period of Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval to ratify the Second Commitment Period of the Kyoto Protocol on containing the emission of Green House Gases (GHGs). The second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol was adopted in 2012. So far, 65 countries have ratified the Second Commitment Period.
The Kyoto Protocol was adopted in 1997 and the 1st commitment period was from 2008-2012.
At Doha in 2012, the amendments to Kyoto Protocol for the 2nd commitment period (the Doha Amendment) were successfully adopted for the period 2013- 2020.
Developed countries have already started implementing their commitments under the ‘opt-in’ provisions of the Doha Amendment.
India has always emphasized the importance of climate actions by developed country Parties in the pre-2020 period. Besides, it has advocated climate actions based on the principles and provisions of the Convention, such as the principle of Equity and Common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities (CBDR & RC).
In view of the critical role played by India in securing international consensus on climate change issues, this decision further underlines India’s leadership in the comity of nations committed to global cause of environmental protection and climate justice.
Ratification of the Kyoto Protocol by India will encourage other developing countries also to undertake this exercise. Implementation of Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) projects under this commitment period in accordance with Sustainable Development priorities will attract some investments in India as well.
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) seeks to stabilise Green House Gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would minimize interference with the climate system.
Recognizing that developed countries are principally responsible for the current high levels of Greenhouse Gas (GHGs) in the atmosphere, the Kyoto Protocol places commitments on developed nations to undertake mitigation targets and to provide financial resources and transfer of technology to the developing nations. Developing countries like India have no mandatory mitigation obligations or targets under the Kyoto Protocol.
Water Diplomacyis the new area where the governments of various countries need to step up and work in tandem to solve the ever increasing fresh water crises. Asia has less fresh water per capita than any other continent, and it is already facing a water crisis which if continued further, will intensify into severe water shortages expected by 2050. At a time of widespread geopolitical discord, competition over freshwater resources could emerge as a serious threat to long-term peace and stability in Asia.
Already, the battle is underway, with China as the main aggressor. But how is the Chinese dragon spreading its tentacles over its Asian neighbours?
Water Diplomacy | China Front
Chinese territorial grab in the South China Sea has been accompanied by a quieter grab of resources in transnational river basins.
China enjoys a unique riparian dominance with more than 110 transnational rivers and lakes flowing into 18 downstream countries. Reengineering cross-border riparian flows is integral to China’s strategy to assert greater control and influence in Asia.
China has also the world’s most dams, which it has never hesitated to use to curb cross-border flows. In fact, China’s dam builders are targeting most of the international rivers that flow out of Chinese territory.
Most of the Chinese internationally shared water resources are located on the Tibetan Plateau, which it annexed in the early 1950s. China’s 13th Five-Year plan calls for a new wave of dam projects on the Plateau which would further regulate downstream flow of river water to neighbouring countries.
China recently cut off the flow of a tributary of the Brahmaputra river, the lifeline of northern India and Bangladesh, to build a dam as part of a major hydroelectric project in Tibet. It is also building another dam on a Brahmaputra tributary to create a series of artificial lakes.
China has built six-mega dams on the Mekong river, which flows into Southeast Asia (Indo-China region specifically), where the downstream impact is already visible. Instead of curbing its dam-building, China is hard at work building several more Mekong dams.
In arid regions of Central Asia, the water supplies are coming under further pressure as China appropriates a growing volume of water from the Illy River. China is also diverting water from the Irtysh, which supplies drinking water to Kazakhstan’s capital Astana and feeds Russia’s Ob river.
Chinese energy, manufacturing and agricultural activities are sprawling in Xinjiang province (Uyghur dominated region). This industrialisation is causing contamination of waters of the region’s transnational rivers with hazardous chemicals and fertilisers, just as China has done to the rivers in its Han heartland.
Water Diplomacy | Way forward for India
There is a strong need for the affected countries to come together at one table to discuss this serious issue and how to combat it collectively, effectively and in the least confrontational manner.
Sporadic and disjointed views will not serve anyone’s interests; therefore, each nation shall directly raise the matter directly at bilateral level in terms of Beijing to restrain its infrastructure building and diversion of transnational river water resources.
At the level of India, we should make it clear to Chinese leadership that ‘freedom of navigation’, lower riparian cause of the states should be adhered in line with the international laws and agreed upon conventions.
If there is a negative response in bilateral negotiations, we shall utilise multilateral forums like the United Nations, ASEAN, BRICS, SCO etc. to raise the issue without resorting to a policy of being a spoilsport to avoid resistance from other members.
India needs to join hands with few of its friendly countries such as Japan and OECD to work in tandem with them to ensure that the Chinese muscle flexing through its so-called water diplomacy could be circumscribed at the earliest.
Water Diplomacy | Conclusion
The race to appropriate water resources in Asia is straining agriculture and fisheries, damaging ecosystems, and fostering dangerous distrust and discord across the region. It must be brought to an end. Asian countries need to clarify the region’s increasingly murky ‘hydropolitics’. The key will be effective dispute-resolution mechanisms and agreement on more transparent water-sharing arrangements. Asia can build a harmonious, rules-based water management system. But it needs China to get on board. At least for now, that does not seem likely.
Kigali Agreement is a historic cornerstone which after seven years of negotiations, 197 countries have finally reached, in Kigali, Rwanda, to amend the Montreal Protocol and phase down hydrofluorocarbons. The Kigali Amendment is one that could avoid global warming by up to 0.5° C.
Kigali Agreement | Key facts
The Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol is legally binding and will come into force from 1 January 2019. Under Kigali Amendment, in all 197 countries, including India have agreed to a timeline to reduce the use of HFCs by roughly 85% of their baselines by 2045.
All signatory countries have been divided into three groups with different timelines to go about reductions of HFCs. These include:
Wealthy, developed countries, such as the United States and the European Union, will start to limit their use of HFCs within a few years and make a cut of at least 10% from 2019.
Rapidly developing countries, including many in Latin America, will freeze their use of HFCs starting in 2024.
Developing countries, specifically India, Pakistan, Iran, Iraq and the Gulf states, will freeze their use starting in 2028.
Kigali Agreement | Comparison with Paris Agreement
While the Paris pledges are broad, they are also voluntary, often vague and dependent on the political will of future world leaders. In contrast, the Kigali deal includes specific targets and timetables to replace HFCs with more planet-friendly alternatives, trade sanctions to punish scofflaws, and an agreement by rich countries to help finance the transition of poor countries to the costlier replacement products. So, the new accord may be more likely to yield climate-shielding actions by industry and governments.
Kigali Agreement | Analysis
HFC emissions contribute far less to climate change than carbon emissions. They are more potent, but less widely used.
Alternatives to HFCs have significant challenges: toxicity, price, flammability.
Developing countries in hot regions with serious use for HFC-based air conditioners, such as the Gulf States, will not have to limit emissions for more than 10 years.
China, the world’s largest producer of HFCs, will not start to cut their production or use until 2029.
Kigali agreement | Indian Perspective
Initially, India was not ready to agree on a freeze year but then it showed flexibility. Freeze year is the year in which phase down of HFCs starts. Not only it agreed on freeze year, but also agreed to advance it to 2028. This is four years later than its peer club countries China, Brazil and those in Africa, and achieving maximum reduction by 2047, two years after they do.
In welcome contrast, however, India has ordered the manufacturers of HFC 23 — a by-product of another chemical used in refrigerant gas manufacture and with a staggeringly high contribution to global warming — to now capture and dispose of it at their own cost.
The decision is of particular significance, considering the expansion of refrigeration and air conditioning in India with a rise in incomes, leading to higher levels of HFC release into the atmosphere.
Same as in the Paris Agreement on climate change, which is strengthened by the Kigali amendments, developing countries will legitimately expect rich countries to aid them as they seek to acquire green technologies for industrial use.
India has shown benevolence towards climate change negotiations given the fact that India’s economic aspirations are not in sync with the developed countries. But such leadership in climate change negotiations would have far bigger implications given that we have bypassed the BASIC grouping’s stand to accommodate the demands of the developed countries.
Marrakech, in Morocco from 7 to 18th November 2016 saw the twenty-second session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 22) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC), the twelfth session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP 12), and the first session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement (CMA 1). More than 200 nations attended the conference and issued the “Marrakech Action Proclamation” to signal a shift towards a new era of implementation and action on climate and sustainable development.
Marrakech | Action Proclamation
The proclamation stressed on the momentum on climate change worldwide, and in many multilateral fora. The momentum is seen as irreversible – it is being driven not only by governments, but by science, business and global action of all types at all levels.
It called for the next level task to rapidly build on that momentum, together, to move forward purposefully to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to foster adaptation efforts, thereby benefitting and supporting the 2030 agenda for Sustainable Development and its Sustainable Development Goals. All this is seen achievable through political commitment to combat climate change, as a matter of urgent priority.
All parties called to strengthen and support efforts to eradicate poverty, ensure food security and to take stringent action to deal with climate change challenges in agriculture.
All parties called for urgently raising ambition and strengthening cooperation among themselves to close the gap between current emissions trajectories and the pathway needed to meet the long-term temperature goals of the Paris Agreement.
All the parties called for an increase in the volume, flow and access to finance for climate projects, alongside improved capacity and technology, including from developed to developing countries. The developed countries reaffirmed their pledge of USD 100 billion fund mobilisation per year by 2020 to support climate action by developing countries.
All the parties called for advancing of climate action and support well before 2020, to take into account the specific needs and circumstances of developing countries, the least developed countries and most importantly the countries vulnerable to adverse impacts of climate change.
The parties to the Kyoto Protocol also encouraged the ratification of Doha Amendment (forwarded by the developing countries to raise the ambition of climate actions in the pre-2020 period).
Moreover, they also called for all non-state actors to join their hands for immediate and ambitious action and mobilization.
Marrakech Action Plan | Indian Perspective
Most of the demands of India with relation to providing finance to developing nations, inclusion of sustainable lifestyle with minimum carbon footprint and a clear cut mention of flow of funds in the draft of the political proclamation has been accommodated. India’s demand to push for climate action for sustainable agriculture (COP 17, Durban) has also been accommodated alongside the principles of equity.
Marrakech Action Plan | An Analysis
Marrakech’s negotiations and proclamation stressed upon a combined message to the US President-elect Donald Trump, anticipating a change in stance on climate action by the new administration of the United States.
The negotiations built upon the need to have a climate treaty to come into effect much before the 2020 deadline set in Paris.
The developed countries might have pledged only about USD 150 million at Marrakech but the developing countries have been able to insert a clause in the final proclamation calling for scaling up the financial resources beyond $100 billion, per year, after 2020.
A strong solidarity between the developing countries was witnessed again in the Marrakech Conference, especially after a divided house that was witnessed during the Paris Conference last year, when developed countries managed to strike a chord with India and China through bilateral discussions.
The success of a multilateral agreement depends upon the fulfilment of commitments by all the concerned parties. For every effort that the parties seek, they would need finance and technology apart from a firm political commitment over the issue. The world needs all parties to act in synchronisation to keep the rise of the global average temperature well below 2°C in this century.
On the sidelines of the plenary 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference – 21st yearly Conference of Parties at Paris, India has pledged to reduce 33-35% of its carbon emissions (at 2005 level) by 2030. Also, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Francois Hollande has launched an ambitious initiative called ‘International Solar Energy Alliance’. Origin of the idea –
The origin of the ambitious initiative goes back to the election campaign days of the Prime Minister aspirant Shri Narendra Modi who foresaw the ambition to curb the usage of non-renewable energy resources from India and to build an enthusiastic ‘solar alliance’ that could serve the interests of the energy needs of the entire world and not just India. As the Chief Minister of the Indian state of Gujarat, he spurred companies to build more than 900MW of solar plant across the state in just a couple of years and commissioned Asia’s largest solar park at Charanka village. What exactly is this ‘International solar alliance’?
It is a strategic cluster of around 120 countries that falls within the tropical region, receiving abundant sunshine throughout the year which may be used to harness the solar energy potential. This solar energy may be used for domestic consumption as well as for strategic exports to subtropical, temperate and polar countries. India has invited over 120 countries that falls in the tropical region to be a part of the ambitious project. A good number of them lies in the Gulf region having historical enterprise with non-renewable resources like petroleum oil. The Southern coast of the United States too falls within the region which has a strategic reserve of Shale Gas. Why India has emerged as the natural leader for this alliance?
India has an ambitious target to install 175GW of renewable energy by 2022, which includes 100GW of solar energy usage. India has reiterated its stance to draw 40% of its electricity from renewable energy by 2030. Currently, renewable energy, nuclear energy and hydropower together contribute 30% of the overall installed capacity in India. With power production expected to triple, this will amount to 320 GW of non-fossil fuel capacity. Since 2010, India has been providing 40% subsidy on capital costs of Solar PV Panels which is available through NABARD in India (as per JNNURM mission). Prime Minister Narendra Modi has pledged to give electricity to every one of the 300 million Indians living in the dark. For this, three more ultra-mega solar parks were backed with cash in July 2014, as were solar-powered irrigation pumps and canal-top solar plants. The electric fences on India’s sensitive northern borders will be solar-powered as the military installs 1,000MW of panels to replace expensive diesel generators across its posts. Another 7,000MW of solar is out for tender across the country and the rooftops of Delhi are to be bedecked with panels under a new scheme. The solar energy from the Rajasthan desert sun can meet whole of India’s future power needs, a proposition which has been realized meticulously by the Government of India as evident from the building up of 4,000MW Ultra Mega Green Solar Power Project (UMPP) near Sambhar Lake in Rajasthan. More than 25 major states of India out of 29 have an operational or installed solar power capacity. This makes the country a natural leader of the solar club. The geographical presence of the country in the tropics add boon to its leadership role. Benefits-
Current geopolitics revolves around the presence of reserves of non-renewable sources of energy like petroleum oil, shale gas, nuclear energy, natural gas etc. The sceptics have often linked the tensions in West Asia and Africa to the insatiable thirst for energy resources of many alleged ‘neo-colonizers’ present in the region in the form of private, governmental as well as intergovernmental organizations. Presence of cartels like OPEC, African Union that invariably control the price of the energy resources through the forces of demand and supply might meet an end to their monopoly over the energy resources, after the discovery and operationalisation of the alternative sources of energy i.e. solar energy. Solar energy is unlimited in supply, non-pollutant, non-disaster prone and complements climate change. With solar technology evolving, costs coming down and grid connectivity improving; it becomes the best alternative to conventional sources of energy. How does it affect India’s foreign policy objectives?
Indian government is investing an initial $30m (£20m) in setting up the alliance’s headquarters in India (the Secretariat). The eventual goal is to raise $400m from membership fees, and international agencies. As Isaiah Bowman (geographer and strategic adviser to the former US President Franklin Roosevelt) played an instrumental role in the establishment of the United Nations and forcing its location to be based in an American city (New York), the Secretariat of the ‘International Solar Alliance’ would bring India at the forefront of the world politics. It has the potential to boost India’s bid to secure a permanent seat at the United Nations Security Council. Like the citizens of OPEC member nations, the future generations of India would reap the economic and social benefits of this long term initiative as the solar energy to be exported to the sub-tropical, temperate and polar countries would make solar energy production a viable business in India. It would considerably reduce India’s energy import bill which stands at almost 70-75% of total energy needs of our economy, saving around $120 billion energy bill annually. This lower dependency on energy would provide a political leverage to India to take strategic position in international affairs which it currently refuses to acknowledge through the principle of non-interference. Challenges –
There would be silent yet stiff resistance from non-renewable energy providing cartels because the operations of the solar alliance is deemed to end the monopoly of petroleum, natural gas, shale gas, nuclear energy suppliers. In this battle of energy production, India stands to lose strategic allies like Russia, Scandinavian countries, African countries, Latin American countries, Gulf countries, Central Asian countries, Australia, China as well as the United States that export high cost energy resources throughout the world. It is possible that the only support that India may inevitably rely upon is from Europe where the demand of energy is rising with no conventional resources of energy of their own, including renewable energy. This is evident from the fact that the strongest support India has received in this initiative was from France and organizations like Solar Power Europe with others, especially Europeans following the line. Europe is fed up from Russian, African, Latin American and OPEC’s arm-twisting for their energy needs, therefore it looks towards a renewable alternative, by which India’s solar alliance could fill the void. It would be a herculean task for Prime Minister Modi to bring all the stakeholders on the table and highlight the importance of the solar alliance that actually has the capacity to harness the unlimited resource for contemporary and future generations. The most important task for India would be to take Russia on board, whose economy thrives on energy exports, especially after international sanctions. Central Asian, Latin American and African countries too would not be much delighted about the prospects of the solar club that could jeopardize their economy for long term. A strategic threat to our leadership in the International Solar Alliance comes from China, which is also aggressively pursuing the green technology, installing 12,000MW in 2013 – a record for any country in a single year. But a ray of the light for India looks in the Gulf region (in Dubai), which has announced a Dirham 100 billion ($27 billion) programme to make solar panels mandatory for all rooftop buildings by 2030, part of a plan to make the city a global clean energy centre. Dubai aims to generate 25% of its energy from clean sources by 2030, rising to 75% by 2050. Taking advantage of our close relationship with UAE, India can get the West Asian region on board. More high level foreign visits, regular information exchanges, strongest PR and lobbying, removing unrealistic insecurities from all the concerned stakeholders would actually help in giving a much needed thrust to the ambitious programme. Conclusion –
Fossil fuels still get more than $40bn (£24bn) in subsidy every year in India, even a quarter of which if invested in solar energy research would provide long term strategic gains for the nation. Legislative as well as citizen support could make India a global leader in this noble vision. We could celebrate ‘Solar Energy Week’ every first week of January (associated with perihelion position of the sun) to encourage our people to adopt solar technology for household as well as industrial needs. Indian media too has to realize its duty to promote a strategic yet humanistic vision of the Prime Minister. Ancient Indian civilization calls for ‘सेवा परमो धर्म (Sewa Parmo Dharma)’ which means ‘Service is the highest duty’. The commencement of the ‘International Solar Alliance’ project envisages this ancient Indian idea through which India aims to help the world with a clean, low cost and a viable renewable source of energy.
Paris Agreement on Climate change has had many implications for India. Some of the important implications are being discussed here. PARIS AGREEMENT | STRATEGIC IMPLICATIONS FOR INDIA
The BASIC (Brazil, South Africa, India and China) grouping has been needled by the developed countries, especially USA. It would mean that a stronger force which used to deliberate during negotiations for climate change agreements stand divided, giving an obvious edge to the developed countries.
Changing the lap from the concerns of developing countries to the lap of developed countries led by USA would have geopolitical concerns. It could be a big blow to a multipolar world that India wishes to maintain.
With the successful ratification of the Paris Agreement, India has discarded the criticism levelled by the developed countries of being a spoilsport during multilateral negotiations. India has successfully shown a decisive leadership ability to embrace further responsibilities on the global stage, such as the leadership in the United Nations Security Council.
India’s INDCs were already in sync with the Paris Agreement with special focus on solar energy targets, hence, India had no bigger compromises, yet giant strategical gains for the future.
India is happy about the fact that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s words such as ‘equity’, ‘climate justice’, ‘sustainable lifestyle’ and ‘reducing consumption’ have been kept intact in the agreement, showing India’s mettle in the multilateral podiums.
India has taken the lead in cunningly establishing ‘International Solar Alliance’ to supplement its costs related with INDCs related to solar energy.
With the formal ratification by China, India could not have had kept its cards inside the den for long. Doing otherwise could have had economic consequences with China possibly taking a leap in availing Clean Development Mechanism funding and other carbon offsets.
Through the ratification process, India has also brought island States from Africa, Pacific, Caribbean and other marginal groupings into confidence, reassuring our commitment towards climate change reduction commitments.
With most of the renewable energy technology patented with the developed world, especially the USA, the developing countries would have to rely heavily on import of such technology, thus affecting the Balance of Trade.
PARIS AGREEMENT | SOCIAL, POLITICAL AND ECONOMIC CONSEQUENCES
Although India has cleared the air over its commitment to Paris Agreement by highlighting the clauses of technology transfer and Green funding, there could be few short to medium term costs involved in the immediate future.
Through the ambitious targets of promoting solar energy (100 GW), India would incur huge costs of upgradation, especially since it has lost the case with USA in WTO regarding domestic content requirements with solar cell equipment technology. With the cost of solar energy coming down slowly, the domestic political fallouts could be big in the near future too when the general public would incur the cost of solar energy.
With the embracing of Montreal Protocol recently, India has committed to phase out of Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) in a time bound manner. This would involve serious upgradation of existing technologies used in refrigerant industries. But the decision rests on the clause of developing countries claiming full costs of conversion.
With the political fallout over Land Acquisition Bill in the last few years, the ambitious targets of afforestation would be difficult to materialise.
India is aiming to push the manufacturing sector growth; hence it has to ensure that the balance in demand for power and power generation is maintained during the transition from non-renewable to renewable sources of power generation. Otherwise, there could be a volatility in the economy which would be difficult to tame under the present unfavourable economic conditions worldwide.
Shift to renewable energy resources would hit the oil economies of the OPEC countries, ultimately affecting the employment opportunities of the Indian diaspora living in the region.
India has to consider the situation where the falling oil economies would suffer from legitimacy crisis and hence may draw down into a civil war like situation. In such event of crisis, it would be our utmost priority to secure the lives of our diaspora living in the region.
The living costs of the imported diaspora, saved from such conflict zones might disturb the domestic economy. Such large scale unemployment, if stretched over a long period of time might breed many other social evils.
The debilitating oil economies would push themselves towards war to consolidate domestic support (Example – Saudi Arabian intervention in Yemen). Such ripple effects of war may accelerate the problems of Indian diaspora in regions beyond oil economies.
In India, the increased unemployment levels, increased demand of resources and inability to increase supply consistently due to lack of factors of production might push the societal conflicts to an unbearable level.
As every change invites resistance, the outgoing oil industry in India would try its level best to lobby its interests, both through fair and unfair means which may push the political costs for India.
The emerging renewable energy industry might enjoy initial inelastic competition for a short term. Such semi-monopolies might create social unrest due to inflation and supply controls of basic consumer goods, unless the transition and business models are regulated by the Government.
PARIS AGREEMENT | SOCIAL, POLITICAL AND ECONOMIC FALLOUTS
The contemporary non-renewable energy economy is suffering a big blow due to demand-supply mismatch, the remnants of which would suffer from the transition towards renewable energy, hence pushing the world into a self- constructed economic recession.
Such economic fallouts would pursue political instability in the West Asian region because of increased costs, budget deficits and lowering down of revenue from oil, the signals of which are already evident from the Saudi Arabian economy.
With the political instability, the region may further draw down into the black hole of war, the costs of which include humanitarian crisis and arms race including WMDs.
With the discreet ‘Petrodollar’ agreement signed during the Yom Kippur War of 1973 between US and Saudi Arabia came to an end in 2010, there is no visible chance for its renewal post-renewable energy shift. This may facilitate a change of alliances in the region and subsequent escalation of conflicts might occur.
Economies like Russia, which depend majorly on energy and defence exports would find their chief source of income being eradicated through such multilateral arrangements. In order to compensate the same, they could increase their investment towards defence supplies, threatening the NATO countries and pushing the world into another Cold War. It is already happening.
Iran and Saudi Arabia’s Cold War has been heightened in the region due to the fall in oil revenue and the resulting legitimacy crisis in the domestic politics. Such increase in tensions could reignite the third and fourth generation warfare strategies.
Eyeing an opportunity from the legitimacy crisis generated through power vacuums, more guerrilla groups (FARC, SILF, Syrian Rebels etc) and terrorist groups (ISIS, AQAP, Jabhat al-Nusra etc) would emerge to fill the void left behind by the uprooted political systems.
With an already globalised world, the costs of war, political instability and demand-supply mismatches would flow to adjacent economies and ultimately affect emerging economies like China and India, who are seeking to maximise their exports and expand their channels of relevance in the region beyond Asia.
The African continent, already looming under severe economic and political crisis might see heightened tensions, especially when the oil revenues would decline. Countries like Nigeria and West African region who survive mostly due to the oil revenue might push themselves into post-colonisation civil war era.
Similarly, the South American region which is already suffering legitimacy crisis in Venezuela, Colombia and Brazil, the battle between Socialism and Neo-Capitalism could be reignited creating civil unrest in the region.
An emerging China, finding it unable to meet its energy requirements and pushing itself into a quagmire of economic slowdown might resort to assertive, expansionist and muscle flexing policy towards the neighbours for domestic power consolidation.
It would also be interesting to see how the ‘democracies’ with proven fossil fuel reserves like coal, petroleum and gas would pursue the agenda of minimising the non-renewable sources of energy, given that the non-renewable energy industry commands huge control over domestic and international politics.
The world has hardly recovered from the 2008 recession; it would be imprudent to push it again into the lap of another with downsizing the energy industries.
Until or unless the oil economies do not prepare themselves for a comfortable transition towards diversification of their economy, the threat signal of political legitimacy might loom over their political quarters.
It has been observed that many of the INDCs committed by India rests on the assumption of availing Green Finance and Technology Transfer. However, the last international meeting on climate finance under the UN negotiations showed that developed countries were ‘green-washing’ the existing finance instead of providing additional funds. The international negotiations over next four years are also going to be strongly focussed on building a transparency and disclosure regime that can help countries such as India keep track of what are the real new funding routes opening for the climate or green energy sector and where it would have to deploy its own resources. The international negotiations starting November 8 in Morocco are, in the least, expected to set out deadlines for these rules to be put in place and how the manner in which they will be devised.
With regard to $100 billion funding and providing clean technology, there is no clarity in the agreement and these issues have been left to future negotiations during the next five years. Many developing and poor nations are upset with this fact. This would, in turn, hamper the entire process of adaptation and mitigation effort.
Historical emissions of rich countries:
With the omission of the words ‘historical agreements’ of rich nations in the agreement it appears that the principle of equity and common but differentiated responsibility of rich and poor nations has been diluted.
This absolves rich countries of their responsibility for reducing their emissions drastically, which is required to save the planet from disastrous consequences of climate change.
This, in turn, puts greater pressure on developing countries, in particular India and China, to reduce their emissions much more than they have pledged.
The methodology of monitoring of implementation of Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) remains unresolved in Paris and is still to be negotiated in the coming years.
India and China have maintained that developed and developing countries should have different systems of monitoring and reporting, which were devised at Cancun in 2010. These are called as International Assessment and Review (IAR) for the developed and International Consultation and Analysis (ICA) for developing countries.
Why different systems? This difference is due to the fact that developing countries do not have the necessary capability to undertake stringent reporting and thus they wanted the Paris Agreement must operationalise and implement differential obligations of developed and developing countries.
Other outcomes of the conference:
The Paris Agreement has incorporated a new threshold limit of average global temperature rise of 1.5-degree Celsius by 2100 instead of the current limit of 2-degree Celsius. This requires all countries (rich nations in particular) to embark upon huge enhancement of emission cuts urgently.
Economies in tech-innovative places such as the US and Japan are likely to do well, as renewable energy work takes off in poor countries having abundant ‘sunshine’ and ‘wind’. This will expand market share for companies involved in renewable energy and energy efficiency. Also, innovators and venture capitalists are likely to make a beeline for energy industry.
Significance of the Paris agreement –
The Paris Agreement acknowledges the development imperatives of developing countries. The Agreement recognizes the developing countries’ right to development and their efforts to harmonize development with environment, while protecting the interests of the most vulnerable.
The Paris Agreement recognizes the importance of sustainable lifestyles and sustainable patterns of consumption with developed countries taking the lead, and notes the importance of ‘climate justice’ in its preamble.
The Agreement seeks to enhance the ‘implementation of the Convention whilst reflecting the principles of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, in the light of different national circumstances.
The objective of the Agreement further ensures that it is not mitigation-centric and includes other important elements such as adaptation, loss and damage, finance, technology, capacity building and transparency of action and support.
Pre-2020 actions are also part of the decisions. The developed country parties are urged to scale up their level of financial support with a complete road map to achieve the goal of jointly providing US $ 100 billion by 2020 for mitigation and adaptation by significantly increasing adaptation finance from current levels and to further provide appropriate technology and capacity building support.
FEATURE ADDED IN COP 21, PARIS
FEATURE BORN DURING –
Common but differentiated responsibilities
$100 billion commitment by developed countries
CoP 15, Copenhagen
Green Climate Fund
CoP 16, Cancun
Principles of equity
CoP 17, Durban
Limit to reduce global temperatures within 2 degree Celsius increase
CoP 20, Lima
DID INDIA RATIFY THE PARIS AGREEMENT?
In case of India, the process of ratification is simple. It only required the Cabinet decision. India had pledged to:
Decrease the carbon per unit of GDP (carbon intensity of our economy) to about 33 to 35% in 2030 as compared to 2005 levels.
Meet at least 40% of India’s electricity generating capacity from non-fossil fuels.
Capture 5 billion tons of carbon dioxide by trees and forest cover.
India’s commitments of 100 GW of solar energy, 60 GW of wind energy and by 2022, we would have about 40% of our energy needs to be met from non-fossil fuel energy sources.
IS PARIS AGREEMENT FAIR TO INDIA?
Fair to India:
The principle of “differentiation”, means developed nations must take greater action to fight climate change, has been retained, though in diluted form.
India is allowed to carry out its development plans.
India has safely accorded priority to the fact that India’s ‘Intended Nationally Determined Contributions’ rest on the condition that our targets would be met only if adequate funding and transfer of technology would be facilitated by the developed countries. In his interview to David Letterman, the Prime Minister stressed on this issue to clarify his stand that India’s compliance to Paris agreement also depends on the funding and technology transfer conditions being attested under the Climate agreement.
Unfair to India/Developing countries:
Technology transfer: Developed countries opposed India’s demand to address issues related to intellectual property rights, future technology development and institutional arrangement.
Responsibility of developing Vs Developed nation: Being the primary polluter developed countries apathy to take responsibility is unfair.
Fund transfer: According to the Copenhagen Accord, $100 billion of finance a year will be available by 2020 to support climate action by developing countries. There would be no increment in this fund till 2025.
Binding target: India heavily depends on coal and other fossil fuel for its energy requirement. Achieving target under these conditions will be a difficult task. Countries have declared their national target, but many developed groups have opposed against legal binding including the US and the EU.
It is an undeniable fact that developed countries are responsible for current situation. Paris agreement has however diluted their responsibility.