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Sustainable Mining should be The BASICs agenda at UNFCCC-Doha.


One of the most vexing questions which need to be tackled in the run-up to UNFCCC -Doha is the agenda of discussion here. The issue of Economically Sustainable Development vs Ecologically Sustainable Development, and how to really boost the RET’s. And how the people must manoeuvre the thought of the leaders towards concrete results.

BRASILIA, BrazilBrazil, South Africa, India and China are urging developed countries to adopt more ambitious goals to reduce global warming.The four countries form the bloc known as BASIC and representatives on Friday ended a two-day meeting to define a common position ahead of November’s United Nations’ climate change conference in Doha. BASIC acts jointly in international climate change meetings.They say developed nations must assume stronger emission reduction commitments under the 1997 Kyoto Protocol that is aimed at stemming pollution and global warming. It has been opposed by the United States. (The Associated Press Published: Friday, Sep. 21, 2012)

Was this ambition to do more about Global Warming anything to do with the report below ? For Politicians too can be affected by death and disease ? Will the world leaders finally wake up to doing something concrete at the grass root level or still devise methods of corporate enrichment, using the bogey of Climate change abatement?

Global warming may be spurring the spread of Cyanobacteria, one of the most primitive of bugs, while causing them to produce greater amounts of toxins, which may affect liver, nervous system and eyes, according to a study. “These toxins may affect the liver and other organs (hepatotoxins), the nervous system (neurotoxins), different cells (cytotoxins), the eyes and mucous membranes, as well as causing dermatitis and allergies,” explains Francisca F. del Campo, study co-author and researcher at the Autonomous University of Madrid. (IANS : Jul 4, 2012,)

MUMBAI: Global warming is expected to intensify extreme precipitation, but the rate at which it does so in the tropics has remained unclear. Now an MIT study has given an estimate based on model simulations and observations: With every 1 degree Celsius rise in temperature, the study finds, tropical regions will see 10 percent heavier rainfall extremes, with possible impacts for flooding in populous regions.”The study includes some populous countries that are vulnerable to climate change,” says Paul O’Gorman, the Victor P. Starr Career Development Assistant Professor of Atmospheric Science at MIT, “and impacts of changes in rainfall could be important there.” ( read rest if of article in Global warming to affect rainfall)

But, when one reads it again, one tends to wonder as to why India which is an equal partner in the fight for Climate change hardly takes centre stage in innovating any movement. That Dr. R.K.Pachauri sits at the top in the UNFCCC, seems to be the only achievement way back in the past when India mattered. Even when the TOI report states below that Mumbai would surely see another flood, sooner than later not a ripple is created in the Media or social circle. Should one read the C40 program, one would understand why such a thing is important. Although India was not the innovator of this program, both Mumbai and New Delhi are signatories. Yet I can bet my last inflation effected Rupee that not many a Citizen in both the Megalopolis know about it. Forget C40 program, I would not know how many in the administration know that you don’t cross the Zebra line, when you stop at a traffic signal. Or for that matter drive in lane.

As alien a concept to the leaders as to the public, the simple fact of driving in lane, can cut a better percentage of fuel consumption in a vehicle, simply because if one can cruise at a standard speed, instead of snaking between vehicles and pedestrians; the clutch and gears are less used. Which saves fuel.  It saves – Money! It also allows for less wear & tear of the roads and the citizens, who having more energy to work and not negotiate roads give that much more to Nation building. And as we well know by nowmoney does not grow on trees“. the dialogue made famous by our head of Government. It was only during the first Iraq conflict – The Desert Storm; that the PCRA had come up with sustained campaign to save fuel. But now our leaders are happy by simply increasing the fossil fuel cost, without an attempt to innovation. Forget innovation, our leaders do not even have the gumption to in-force the laws as simple as road discipline which can save so much of the exchequer. It is a telling commentary on their “ability to govern”.

The reason is simple. While the World is moving towards creating The CEO as statesman; some are more focussed in creating Politicians as CEO’s,  which in the process would be harmful to the Ecosystem as personal profit would become more supreme than National good. In the Essay by Ethical Corporation; The CEO as statesman  – The reach and impacts of today’s global corporations mean that, like it or loathe it, business leaders cannot ignore international relations, and global issues such as sustainable development.

Frankly, I would prefer a Politician to be a CEO, should s/he be able to rise above partisan thinking and innovate methods & laws to develop both business and the ecosystem in a balanced way. I do concede it’s a utopian thought, but wishful thinking is not yet a crime.

Therefore the CEO it would seem, is moving towards actual sensible approach to the problems vexing the planet. Or rather, to do plane speak; that would be the ideal solution. Because, all said and done; barring a very few, most are still applying the same hackneyed idea of business and hoping to succeed in fooling the people all over again. Any business is being sold by using the adage, green without actually understanding the core meaning in it.  By just using the adage, Green to everything that they are doing both the Politician and the CEO is playing with fire.

Reading another report in the DNA newspaper on the recent coal scam; a cold sweat broke when I thought how even this could be turned into a Green agenda! How long would it take for the spin-doctors to say, that the inquiry which has led to de-allocation of coal blocks, has saved huge tracts of virgin forest, while at the same time make a windfall profit by importing Coal ? From whichever Nation it be imported; most presumably another of the BASIC Nation or perhaps Australia. But how does this abate GHG ? It is just transfer of one’s dirt to another country. The faulty basis on which the Koyto Protocol began in the first place; even though the intent behind is was, and still is greater good. So, why not change the datum on the approach to CDM ?

For example,a report suggest; the energy derived from coal in India is about twice that of energy derived from oil, as against the world, where energy derived from coal is about 30% lower than energy derived from oil.

Thus Coal would always stay in the near future as India’s most important energy source. Therefore what must be done to balance the requirement of legitimate human developmental needs, against the odds stacked heavily against use of high GHG producing energy source ? The Green idea I propose here is simple. Declare Coal as the most lucrative CDM revenue earner and open the purse strings of the GCF on this regard. But only one rider must stay. Limit the destructions of life-forms. And have a MRV in place. Be it a rodent, a bird or a tree, document the destruction and make it public.

It is time that the BASIC countries, especially India while raising the issue at UNFCCC- Doha its right to develop; also propose the idea to ban open-cast mining! So, what is the option as opposed to open-cast mining ? The traditional methods off-course! BUT with a difference. Let most of the mining done be robotic. Not only it would save life & limb of humans it would also limit the other collateral destruction related to mining.

The technology is already there to go deep underground,without disturbing what is above. Be it creating the tunnel for the Higgs-Boson experiment in the Large Hadron Collider;  creating underground experiment to find Dark matter or the English Channel Tunnel which not only vindicates my argument but also shows how Public-Private partnership works; extraction of Coal with limited destruction to the ecosystem above must become mandatory. Until we do find the solution to endless clean energy. The balanced approach which India did take  while constructing India-based Neutrino Observatory, which looked into the various aspect of Environment; must also become norm for mining of minerals including coal via underground shafts only. Therefore, I repeat that we know the technology, we have the funds to conduct experiment which are extremely costly; the same approach must be adopted with creating innovative clauses in the existing CDM mandate; and let the balance between Economy Vs Ecology for future growth be the focus agenda at UNFCCC – Doha.

And what could be the real icing on the cake is, the energy which would be required to power these machines can come from CSP installed in close vicinity. Thus large amount of diesel which is required to fire the generators to turn the conveyors would be limited. And the site-offices can easily work with day-time solar power. This would not only encourage responsible eco-system management, but also boots various business opportunities in the nascent RET industry. Adding some more comments I had mentioned in my previous article Green Business Ideas – Abandoned coalfields can boost RE and save forest in India. We the environmentally concious can really make a case to the business viability of the suggestions.

For, without business interest, none would be interested. Even the die-hard activist needs money to buy bread, and for that there has to be a source of income. Let’s not become rebels without a cause, but rebel for the cause of Nature and change the datum of development.

In-fact, it is my direct appeal to WRI, Greenpeace -International; CAN – International and UNEP / UNDP that they support such an initiative. It is time humans start respecting life especially at the UNFCC level. In my article Killing is not a crime,only Murder is; The difficulty of preaching Sustainable Living.; I’ve tried to show how we narrow our focus, while talking of right to live. Unless this changes, real progress towards sustainable economy will  take longer time than we presently have. To save this planet from climate change due to human intervention.

 

 

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Green Business Ideas : P.M.Manmohan Singh’s idea of Terminal Market Complex is a superb Green Idea which needs to be implemented


The Prime Minister of India 2012

The National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) was released by the Prime Minister of India on 30th June 2008.It outlines a national strategy that aims to enable the country adapt to climate change and enhances the ecological sustainability of India‘s development path. It stresses that maintaining a high growth rate is essential for increasing living standards of the majority of people of India and reducing their vulnerability of the impacts of climate change.

During that time he also reinforced the idea of Terminal Market Complex – to combat food waste due to transportation & storage problems. The detailed report must have been read and perhaps being implemented too. But in this I found a Green Business Idea which perhaps can bring a sea-change in the thoughts of Climate Resilient Cities we need to build.

The idea of Terminal Market Complex conforms to Agenda 21 and the C40 cities program if we can design it right in the heart of a city. Yes, it is possible. It is very similar to a  concept which I found in a recent article, published by NDRC blog and tagged under urban farming, an old building was transformed into a public garden. The concept of Multileveled Vertical Urban Allotments, has been designed by Aspiring interior designer Lucie Sadakova, and another addition to superlative concepts many other Architects and Designers world over, are coming up with. The combination of each idea together I hope, would help rid the problems all Urban areas in the World are facing. It is a super step towards creating the Climate Resilient Cities.

Most Indian urban centers, especially cities like Mumbai, India; face severe shortage of space.This lead to shrinking of open spaces, trees and green patch in general. Making do with a few potted plants, hanging out of tiny windows or narrow flower-beds never can compare to a beautiful park in full bloom and surrounded with shady trees. The absence or shortage of open green spaces is harmful to the health of citizens; it raises the overall temperature of the city, which is known as heat island effect and both physical & psychological problems arise due to such unplanned development. What is more worrying is the rapid pace at which urban centers in the Emerging economies like India are growing. With slow or zero pace of reforms initiated by the policy makers, we are heading towards disaster which the PM and his Planning commission has been able to see, but not been able to address as it should have. The main reason behind the government not being able to have a sound Urban Development rule, is more political than administrative. And I strongly believe that should one take an issue which is important for the well-being of the citizens to the citizens directly, it would get mass support. And in a Democracy, mass support is the best driver for implementation of good governance.

Next, if the idea could have the possibility of generating income, its popularity would rise faster. Let us in this article explore a few ideas and see if sound, innovative and transparent policy and public will & participation can make them popular for all those cities which need to return to sustainable growth.

Mumbai, is the commercial hub of India. Here we have people who have wealth which could buy them a palace in many other urban centers around the world, but here they make do with a high-rise apartment due to severe lack of space. And almost all the financially well-off  citizens, have a second home. Locations at a distance of 100 KM to 150 KM from the city center are most popular. There you would find beautiful bungalows, with lawns in front and kitchen garden at the back; vast farm-houses fenced and barricaded. These houses lie vacant for most of the year and those of the super-rich, for years; because they have other similar abode near other cities .So  most are left in care of  a man-servant and his family who also double up as the gardener, housekeeping and guard. While I have absolutely no issues, if poor underprivileged villagers are provided with a decent shelter and employment, I do have strong reservations on this type of growth of ‘second homes’ which usually come up on, especially near Mumbai; ecologically sensitive western ghats. The primary reason for this type of growth is because the rich citizen of Mumbai want to ‘get away’ form all the heat and dust of everyday living.This is the pulse, which the Developers and the Urban Development Ministry failing to cash on. A bold and unusual  Green Business Idea, which if implemented and  made a success, could change the way people live in Cities.

If say, we can provide lush-green abode at the heart of the city along with the option of fresh food terminals which reduce food waste and generate employment we are able to create a super sustainable city program. And the best part would be it would reduce the heat-island effect. Limit the horizontal growth of a city, which we call an Urban sprawl, which eats up more and more green field areas, pushing the farm lands further away from the city center, this creating logistical problems for storage and transportation of  fresh food. Further a direct connect with nature would insure that the future generations would not be divorced form sustainable living practices as we are in the present.

Terrace garden are nothing new. But if with policy support from the government the free FSI / FAR  is tweaked to help the developers who are able to build high-rise, with a kitchen – garden along with lawns & flower beds, imagine the result. It would be like living in a bungalow in the clouds! The hanging gardens of Babylon coming back to life. True, the kitchen garden would not be able to supply the demand required. But that is not the point. The point is it would be an extra support to the terminal market complex we could be building, which is additional to the thought given by the ministry and similar to the hollowed out building shown alongside. And where is the space one would ask ? Just look at any of the large Bus Depots in Mumbai, and imagine having 20 stories of light-weight structure made of Thermo-Polymerized rock  , say 12 meters wide floor plate stacked one over the other at distances and design which allow for sunlight. Not only would such roof-top or terrace fields help in the agribusiness, it would save the fertile topsoil of farmlands from being destroyed by the ever growing foot-print of the concrete jungle.

What a relief it would be for a  tired office goer to alight from the bus which are parked under the shade of this bus-terminal-cum-food-terminal, go to the co-operative vegetable mart and buy vegetables before heading home. And all those vegetable sellers, blocking the foot-path along the suburban rail stations and over-bridges could be shifted and even provided with space perhaps at the first floor level, to do what they do best. Sell and grow vegetables. The marginalized farmer who having lost his land need no more live a life of indignity by begging but instead, work under a government aided program to farm and perhaps even get employment with private city center farms, as explained below.

Malls usually have huge floor plate and therefore huge roof area, which get super hot during the summer, requiring a lot of energy for air-conditioning. Mall roofs too could be designed to have vegetable gardens similar to the image shown.  It is a logical idea, as these usually also have the supermarket where people go to buy their grocery. While I concede that all the ideas are Utopian, I believe that someday somewhere I would be able to make a township with these very ideas and more. In 2009 during the Vishwa Show in Mumbai, I had got a whole three-minute to speak with my hero, the past President of India, Shri A.P.J Abdul Kalam. I spoke to him about my idea of building a CDM complaint township, adopting my idea from another Great Leader of India, Shri Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. Gram Swaraj or village self-rule, was a pivotal concept in Mahatama Gandhi’s thinking. I happened to read his ideas and was so mesmerized by his thinking that today the concept I have visualized is nothing but pure inspiration. All Dr. Kalam said  post hearing me out was, as it is a Gandhian idea, it would be a success!

Note : I thank all whose images I have found and used from the internet. None of the concepts shown are my own, and I give full credit to those who have been able to think these ideas, as they are inspirational.

 

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Green Climate Fund – Why it would not come for free.


Kyoto Protocol

As the Climate talks progress in Durban, South Africa under the COP17/ CMP7 of the UNFCCC, the most resonant sound emitting is the setting up of the Green Climate Fund ( GCF ) and along with it, is the impetus by most signatories to give a new life to KP2 or the Kyoto Protocol.

Although all the Countries including the USA & European Union are trying to make the right noises, there seems to be a feeling that the LDC and the other most vulnerable  Countries would be handed a plate more empty than full.

When one hears the developed countries speak, they seem rational in their thinking, when they endorse that Climate change is a clear & present danger. They all agree that abatement and adaptation are the only way forward for a low-carbon economy. Yet there dose not seem to be an agreement for the KP2 or the GEF. Why is this so ?

Form a layman perspective, what comes to mind is that it has more to do with business compulsions & economic compulsions, rather than political compulsion. Although all the positioning the political masters of various nations take, claiming the will of the people; rare would be one who actually does.

This is being proved again and again in each CAN conference. But one then has to accept the reality.Although generalization would be incorrect, I would still hazard that many other Citizens of different Nations would find resonance with the  perspective , I’m about to present.

In many countries, some politicians are either themselves successful businessmen who have then entered politics or politicians who put their relatives as proxies to their further their business aspirations. In both cases, being the law-makers they understand what policy would suit them best. This may be the case in other developing or developed countries. In fact, it is understood  that the Kennedy family were rich businessmen before JFK ran for Presidency.

Now, let us take the initiative of UNEP for energy efficient lighting. By dateline 2016 the world should be able to leave behind the in-efficient lighting methods which are in use today to go into LED and similar lighting solutions. It is important both to the developed countries which need to reduce their energy consumption and also for those who would be able to provide more lighting even with less energy generation, as in the least developed countries.

How do you get to do achieve this goal ? As per the UN officials in Durban – by legislation. So assuming each country gets a legislation in place, it would still require a marketing instrument to sell these LED. We all know that the initial cost is high. Why? Because of the high-end technology involved. We also understand that hi-tech requires a lot of expensive R&D too.

Now we have a mix of Businessmen-Politicians in one end and on the other an expensive hi-tech solution which can reduce Global warming. Add to this nearly 180 of 194 countries which are not the Developed countries. Now, to expect businessmen – politicians to give away hi-tech solutions which only they possess for free is asking too much from them!

So when you see well meaning Green technologies business houses conducting seminars in the sidelines of the Durban Conference,one feels tempted to know what would be the cost of the product & consultancy charges.

What will happen between 2012 to 2020 is that the USA, Canada, Japan, EU & Russia will sell the technology they possess. And they are eying the BASIC countries for that. As emerging and responsible countries who have initiated unilateral Climate abatement actions at home and will want to get the hi-tech technologies to be at par with the developed nations. This the once rich & developed nations are banking on.

Therefore a new treaty post 2020 which is inclusive, else not much GHG will be abated blah! blah! is doing the rounds. Historical responsibility be damned!

 

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