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Green Business Idea – A sustainable guide for Retail to win against E-retail in India.


A long time ago, people in want of grocery or clothing used to go to a designated date in an open ground where merchants gathered – it was termed as “Haat”.

Image of Dilli Haat – New Delhi

While the name “Dilli Haat”, is derived from the same concept; its open nearly every-day thus “shops” as we know them evolved over time.

Even today, in the dusty by-lanes of sleepy mofussil towns & villages, where cultures haven’t changed much since the East India Company days; the shops close for the afternoon siesta and are open but just about 2 hours post sundown. These shops are usually day-lit and most having been designed in vernacular style don’t usually require a fan. Although you would now-a-days invariably find one hanging from the central beam. Immobile as there is usually no electricity to run it. More so in peak summer afternoons.

As all the power that is being generated by the creaking Coal fired Thermal plants in India can’t cope of with the demand the swanky malls require to keep their air-conditioners humming. And the spot lights which is tactically angled with precision to highlight the wares in the hundreds of designer shops within the malls.

But as the saying goes, Time is constantly changing and for all that glitter and glamour the large retails brought in, along with the ease of shopping. It left in its wake a huge carbon foot-print. With the angst of Climate Change being felt around the World the buyers to have begun to discern. Helped by the ease of shopping online and keeping one self far away from the madding crowd has certainly helped boost the E-Retail.

And with some serious high net worth individuals with great social standing and industrial acumen investing in some of the stellar performers, E-Retail is here to stay.

This gives some serious competition to the standard brick and mortar companies. This Diwali there were complaints galore, spread over every newspaper worth its name.

And just as the Newspapers, not very long ago felt the threat of extinction from Televised News; till they evolved and adapted, whilst some perished no doubt. The Brick & Mortar Retail can become competitive if they too wake up and think differently.

Example of Mall Interior. Courtesy -tomsherrillillustrations

All they need to do is build an Energy Efficient Building (EEB) or those who only take up space within a building work towards Energy Efficiency Measures (EEM). EEM’s can be applied to existing buildings and if the management wants it, can register themselves with LEED or IGBC certification. And get a Green Building Certificate. Thus becoming world renowned.

It is a simple Green Business Idea, which would once more prove that Sustainability is the Key. And while the economic pundits, may read you many passages in sustainability, its Ecology which is the master of the game. Thus the more natural the design and function the more sustainable the Retail space will be.

There are various ways to deal with it. In the first instance, the Retail chain could hire professional Interior Designer or Architects who have been long practicing sustainable design. These people would perhaps not have the past experience in designing retail; not because they could not but because they chose not to. As modern retail, focuses more on other aspects, rather than true sustainable architectural design.

This does not deride the ones who do. But the designers, while having wanted to make a form which would follow function in its true sense; are often forced to work on perceptions which have been engrained in the client’s physique.

One just needs to visit one mall and hop to the next. They all look and feel the same. This over time becomes norm in design. Although the better managed, while being energy guzzlers are efficient in many ways, the copy cats typically cut corners and make a mess of things.

The Retail stores work with very thin margin of profits.

Now with the roaring success of E-retail, there is simply no more lee-way with the retail stores to cut corners and yet maintain their competitive edge.

But by designing sensibly or demanding a sensible and energy efficient design of the rental space, they can turn the tide to their favour.

There are many ways to achieve these, both for new as well as retro-fits.

It can be achieved by having a better lighting approach. If one could work with day-light and maximize its usage during the morning business hours then the following difference would be felt. We all know that light produces heat and it is this heat which the air conditioners first need to cool before the space gets conditioned to the desired coolth. That means the air-conditioners need to work more to get the same amount of cooling which translates to higher energy bills. Add to that the operation and maintenance cost of the lights and the compressor/filters of the air conditioner which is running extra.

There are ways and means to provide sunlight to every square foot of basement, 3 stories below. So providing the lighting into the stores and even blending with the desired interiors is not so serious a challenge for those who know how.

The woe gets multiplied in towns and cities where a diesel generator feeds the required electricity. The average unit bill shoots to ₹16/unit when we generate electricity from captive generators running on diesel.

We can today not only infuse sunlight to take care of the lighting needs but also almost eliminate the use of diesel in generators by using alternative technology to fuel it. In-fact the fuel can be produced on the spot out of thin air, the technology is in progress while fuel cells are already becoming a practice.

The Earth and Sun are the final source of energy. And its abundance is infinite. One can in a green-field or existing retail property use Geo-thermal technology to power their air-conditioners and top it with Solar PV to completely disconnect form the grid, in certain cases.

Very few understand that one of the prime expenses in a retail food chain is the gas they use to prepare their food. This too can be completely eliminated or limited to negligible cost if one follows true EEM’s.

When we mention food, we must also mention the highly depleted resource, water. Something any retail would require, to use in cleaning of the show-window or preparing food to simple drinking.

Application of rain-water harvesting can help. But by using expert hydrologist as a consultant, instead of hiring a bore-well drilling company. As they can advise on how to eliminate the cost of drilling deep when water can be had at half the depth. The water source can become near perennial with one good seasonal rain, if proper rain water harvesting technique is applied. This combined with sensible storage and use of Solar Pumps can save huge operational costs.

And while it’s true that high-end technology adds to higher cost. But by designing and building wise this cost can be made viable. In fact a Green Building can at times provide a 20-20-20 saving. That is up to 20% in construction cost, operational cost and earning through voluntary carbon credits by reducing the Green House Gas emission is possible.

Today one can create a 5000 feet square, ground + 1 storied building in 12days and start inhabiting it. A huge cost is saved in the interest of the term-loan, which makes it a sensible decision to take. While at the same time the product that is used to build it eliminates or reduces traditional high-carbon emitting materials thus follows the true Clean Development Mechanism. This is so applauded at the United Nation Framework Convention on Climate Change. (UNFCCC)

One could also make one of the walls in translucent concrete, to let diffuse sunlight and eliminate dark passages, which thus reduces use of artificial lights. These measures pay back in record time. Thus making the effort viable.

There are also options available to have RESCO’s, renewable energy service companies who work with a select few sustainable design firm, who on being hired, invests in the capital cost of Solar PV, thus eliminating any initial capital expenditure. With the option to pay-back in a 20 year period.

These design firms are presently exploring options to find investors who would fund the complete plethora of EEM’s – Geothermal, Low E-Glazing, LED & Air-Conditioners too. This system already works in the USA.

In fact some have tied up with Avante-grade entrepreneurs in India, who have manufactured products such as refrigerators, air-conditioners, ceiling fans and tube-lights which run with a mere 2 Kilo-Watt of Direct Current (DC) instead of A/c thus complement their efforts on a RESCO model of design.

So with Solar PV on roof-top a small retail shop can become completely self-sufficient in energy. Even with a CAPEX cost the fast pay-back period these product have, the company would have zero energy cost in 5-7 years!

The most important take away from the above is that each individual becomes a stake holder in making India a business power house while keeping sustainability of the eco-system and thus by default ones’ own self and prosper.

It’s time for Retail to adopt and adapt to Green Business Ideas!

Sandeep Goswami

 

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Green Business Idea – It’s time we sell oxygen to Nations!


COP19 or CMP9 was held in Warsaw, Poland from 11 to 23 November 2013. Typhoon Haiyan hit Philippines from November 2 to 11 2013. .

CoP20 or CMP10 is being held in Lima, Peru from the 1 to 12 December 2014. Typhoon Hagupit is currently ongoing….

The reason for this repeat disaster is simple…

the World simply can’t agree to pay a price for Carbon !

It is a fact.No person on Earth would willingly want to pay for something, if it could be had for free.

But every Nation loves to sell !!

We have been quite successful in selling “Carbon”. The use of the word “Success” here implies that the concept of selling “thin air” which CO2 is; is possible. Not the success or failure of the Kyoto Protocol.

This proves beyond doubt that anything sells…all that is need is proper persuasion and packaging !

But, it is also true that the end result must be profitable. And the business plan must be sustainable. Neither is true in the case of selling Carbon. Simply because, almost all of us are hard-wired to accept Oxygen as the breadth of life. And Carbon is associate with “waste” which we discharge when exhaling! Rest of  the gases are a little less understood by the common person.

And what can’t be appreciated can’t be sold ! Even with a UN mandate and regulation in place.

This is an angle the Climate Change Negotiators must factor into their thinking ! Therefore if we wish to truly bring in a paradigm shift in the thinking of the common person. Who is also a Voter. One must change track.

By selling Oxygen to a World plagued by Carbon we may just turn the tide to the less than 2°C goal.

Let’s argue this concept and lay the ground work for the idea to find acceptance by stating some facts as under.

World’s Worst Air Pollution By Cities 2010.

There is Global agreement to the fact that Pollution reduces the life-span of persons by about 5 years. Add to that the regular loss of business due to erratic attendance of the work-force which gets plagued by various ailments. Which finally adds up to loss of National per capita earning and wealth generation.

When we bring into the forefront the devastation which Global Warming brings, not many can understand. It is not because they do not understand the text or visual media. It is because human brain is conditioned to make one feel that s/he is immortal and also blessed.

Misfortune usually happens to others. It is to be appreciated for what it is, but rarely does one feel the actual pain of others. And those who do, are termed as Saints, by the lesser mortals.

Therefore a person living in Philippines, which is facing the treat of flood and rain once more in 13 months can not comprehend the hardships faced by the people in the severest drought California is facing in 1200 years. 

The resultant effect is scarcity of water, which the residents are facing and somewhere the society has started to respond to the crisis by relearning to live sustainably.The California State Govt has in its official web-page come up with various ideas and advisories for the California Drought.

And unprecedented demand to have it all within the shortest possible time has also scarred India.

The Flood Ravaged Kashmir Valley

Sustainable living which people in India still know by default, is sadly fast fading as we in our attitude to “arrive” become more Occidental than Oriental.

And the greatest tragedy is that the devastation of Kashmir would be felt at Kanyakumari. In manners yet to be flagged as urgent.

For when any modern City faces such devastation, the effect is not limited to the personal tragedy of that region. Neither is it limited to the Economic loss of the Nation. For lurking in the background is the long term effect it has on the ecosystem.

And as we all know the Ecosystem has the potential to nurture Life. And its poisoning due to the folly of human can only invite disaster. What guarantee do we have that the super poisonous water, as any flood water must turn into [ when mixed with the carcases of the dead and laced with the leaching of substances like plastic, chlorides, barium, cadmium, lead & arsenic; all that can be found in many a electrical, electronic appliances, building materials and furniture & furnishings.] will not be reaching the ground water and rivers which irrigate the fertile soil which grow a Nations food ?

And such is not the case with the poisonous waters of River Jhelum reaching Punjab through Kashmir ? Can any of the SAARC Nations therefore guarantee that the food products which it would be trading would not therefore be poisoned to some degree? And can the World therefore not wake up to the risk that produce from this region could be harmful to their National Health?

The potential turmoil such thoughts such as above can create must be nipped at the bud. Simply by pointing to the above as a plausible theory.

When death becomes personal, it becomes urgent.

Thus the idea of selling Oxygen the Life giver would find relevance in the lethargic Climate Negotiations.

What one must not confuse with this recommendation, is that it is not asking for any contextual change in the way Climate Change Negotiations have been drafted. It would be self-defeating to undo a single comma or phrase our World Leaders in their wisdom have accepted. So no one is seeking the removal of the term “Carbon Sequestration”  or “Carbon Abatement” or “Carbon Offset“. So which ever method of Carbon Capture and Storage is accepted by the World all that the UNFCCC requires to do is create an Supplementary page on which the Nations agree to sell the above concept as “Selling Oxygen”.

The idea of Life is so powerful that it inspires prose & poetry. There can be no form of advertisement more powerful to sell an idea than having them being told by people who can breathe life to words..literally !

Corporates therefore would have a wonderful tool to take up the tasks of cleaning up their Carbon Emission mess either due to mandatory laws crafted by the Nations or as CSR.

It would be much easy to explain to the common person, that with every bit of Carbon-di-Oxide rise into the atmosphere, the Oxygen gets diminished as the CO2 takes away the O2 from the Air.  And with diminished Oxygen, it is that much harder to breathe. The only salvation therefore is to clean up the air. The encouragement it would receive could revive a lot many industries engaged in this task.

While there may not at present be any scientific data to explain the theory, Nature is about balance of system. In school the classical experiment of burning  a candle under the bell jar produces no change in weight, even post the last wax melts away gives some credence to the idea some are talking about in the annals of Climate Change conferences.

 
 

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The BASIC need to build Resource Efficient & Climate Responsive Cities to avail GCF


When I wrote the article Bangkok floods – Next, New Delhi ? and followed it many moons later with Hurricane Sandy & Cyclone Nilam – “Our cousins would be visiting soon” we had skirted from UNFCCC – Cancun and were preparing to wipe out Doha with the same intensity as Typhoon Bopha,which tore through Philippines leaving 902 dead and 80,000 homeless.

Should the BASIC, LDC & Small Island Nations believe that things would be built on the outcomes of the Kyoto Protocol and the Bali Action Plan; post Doha they need to do some serious review and approach the issue with innovation.  The idea of enhancing the collective ability to discuss climate change under the principles of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities in facing the adverse effects of climate change should be re-written.

If one understands the internal compulsions of EU & USA, it would be clear that “Enhancing the ability of developing countries to undertake nationally appropriate mitigation actions that are supported and enabled by financial resources and technology transfer from developed countries pursuant to the Convention”; – would remain a very clever draft on paper till another clever draft takes its place. After all which superpower wants to create another superpower, that too at its own expense ?

The only way for removal of barriers to technology support and transfer to be provided to developing countries pursuant to the Convention would come when at least in the BASIC countries, which have the most wherewithal and therefore the least chance of being clubbed with the LDC’s and Island Nations; swiftly put in place a loss and damage measurement mechanism along with enhancing operational action on capacity building  with smarter trade treaties with the Developed World. The concept of which I will expand in the later paragraphs.

While China along with India too is unhappy with the lack of commitment and silence from developed nations especially on the question of finances, intellectually property rights and technology transfer and equity. Together they are the next rising stars of the world economy. And everyone including the BASIC members themselves know that. This very reason would limit any serious commitment from the financially troubled EU and the USA.

Add to that the recent comment by President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday – “For Russia to be sovereign and strong, there should be more of us,..I am sure that a family with three children should be the norm for Russia. But much needs to be done to make this happen.” Putin said in his annual speech to the Federal Assembly of both houses of parliament.

By the time the UNFCCC meets for CoP 19 in Eastern Europe, the USA and others would have calculated how much GHG the expected population rise would produce and factor that with the India + China population and throw up their hands in despair. But, if one must be fair, there is truth in this. One of the biggest challenges to Climate change mitigation would be the huge population we India + China possess.

And while we await an innovative idea about how we make a few million Russians out of Indians & Chinese and thus solve the Russian population problem and ours too; we need to seriously prove that our burgeoning population does not harm or come in harms way due to the vagaries of Climate Change.

Almost all Asian and South East Asian Countries have high density population in very small land-mass. So much so that Historical cities, which were built near the confluence of rivers and sea and the deltas have encroached the flood-planes. In the Island city of Mumbai, one would find shanties perched precariously just above the high-tide. Therefore in an unfortunate event of Tsunami or Cyclone loss of life and property is colossal.

How then it be possible to make a difference to the Climate Abatement and solve the crisis of the Cities ?

For that let us look as an example the city of Mumbai. To de-congest it we need to create business centres away form the main city. And to make the business centre successful we need to create residential townships. This is already been set into motion at Ulwe village area of Navi Mumbai, where the  Dhirubhai Ambani Knowledge City complex in Navi Mumbai spread across 135 acre is also earmarked. In an unusual diversification, the Anil Dhirubai Ambani Group will build integrated townships, residences, hotels and commercial spaces through a joint venture with Chinese giant Dalian Wanda Group.

This is a classic example of Sino-India business relationship which would have great bargaining power across the oceans to have technology transfer happen. Should it be developed in the lines of a climate resilient city, which it must, the EU and the USA would be looking to do business with it and would thereby transfer the technology they posses to make it a 100% Green township.

With more such projects encouraged, albeit in less Eco-sensitive zones and with proper diligence to Bio-diversity, none of the issues of technology transfer and related matter especially – …nationally appropriate mitigation actions that are supported and enabled by financial resources and technology transfer from developed countries pursuant to the Convention would matter. Because with each import of the technology transfer done to the developing world, the technology provider would need to discount the price of the plant & machinery or consultancy sought,  to avert climate change. This could be one of the smart trade treaty. Let the BASIC block allow entry of those goods which factor the “rebate” of climate related loss the developing nations have faced and is in line with the – loss and damage measurement doing the rounds at Climate meets.

There is a difference between begging for alms and negotiating the price of a technology which the west anyway need to sell to boost its sagging economy. The position across the table completely changes. There is a lesson which the LDC’s and Island Nations can learn. If they come as a group and provide business opportunities to the BASIC block; by virtue of it’s negotiating power the BASIC would make the west pay their way out of the mess they have created, even in those countries who are to weak too do anything today.

 

 

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Millennium Development Goals – towards Sustainable Living


The UNFCCC Rio+20; is over. We all must look towards the next one. And while we do, it is our duty to make the common person understand in as simple term as possible the agenda of the Millennium Development and how it is related to their every day life.

English: A 2005 photograph of James Lovelock, ...

English: A 2005 photograph of James Lovelock, scientist and author best known for the Gaia hypothesis. Photograph taken by Bruno Comby of Association of Environmentalists For Nuclear Energy. Original at http://www.ecolo.org/lovelock/. Released under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license versions 2.5, 2.0, and 1.0. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The eminent British scientist James Lovelock, back in the 1970s, formulated his theory of Gaia, which held that the Earth was a kind of super organism. It had a self-regulating quality that would keep everything within that narrow band that made life possible. If things got too warm or too cold—if sunlight varied, or volcanoes caused a fall in temperatures, and so forth—Gaia would eventually compensate.This was a comforting notion to many. Later, he said he was wrong, “I have to tell you, as members of the Earth’s family and an intimate part of it, that you and especially civilization are in grave danger,” he wrote in the Independent in 2006. .

The world has warmed since those heady days of Gaia, and scientists have grown gloomier in their assessment of the state of the world’s climate. NASA climate scientist James Hanson has warned of a Venus effect,” in which runaway warming turns Earth into an uninhabitable desert, with a surface temperature high enough to melt lead, sometime in the next few centuries.

pleistocene extinction

pleistocene extinction (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In a provocative, gripping book, Scientific American editor Fred Guterl says – The sixth “mass extinction event” in the history of planet Earth is currently under way, with over two hundred species dying off every day. The cause of this seismic event is also the source of the single biggest threat to human life: our own inventions. But for all our talk about sea levels and biotechnology, do we really know what our future will actually look like? Will our immune systems be attacked by so-called super bugs, always evolving, and more easily spread than ever? Will the disappearance of numerous species cripple the biosphere? And if it does, what happens then? We find ourselves in a trap: Technology got us into this mess, and it’s also the only thing that can help us survive it.

So, what must be done ? Elinor Ostrom winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics says –  The good news is that evolutionary policymaking is already happening organically. In the absence of effective national and international legislation to curb greenhouse gases, a growing number of city leaders are acting to protect their citizens and economies.

pleistocene extinction

This is hardly surprising – indeed, it should be encouraged. This grassroots diversity in ‘green policy making’ makes economic sense. ‘Sustainable cities’ attract the creative, educated people who want to live in a pollution-free, modern, urban environment that suits their lifestyles. This is where future growth lies. Like upgrading a mobile phone, when people see the benefits, they will discard old models in a flash. Most major cities sit on coasts, straddle rivers, or lie on vulnerable deltas, putting them on the front line of rising sea levels and flooding in the coming decades. Adaptation is a necessity. But, with cities responsible for 70 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, mitigation is better. Of course, true sustainability goes further than pollution control. City planners must look beyond municipal limits and analyse flows of resources – energy, food, water, and people – into and out of their cities. Setting goals can overcome inertia, but everyone must have a stake in establishing them: countries, states, cities, organisations, companies, and people everywhere. Success will hinge on developing many overlapping policies to achieve the goals.

If one reads into the Euro Zone crisis, all that is being debated is whether there should be austerity or business as usual. And in this whatever the European Union has gained and trying to gain in the area of Climate Change abatement, would be the first casualty. Because those who advocate austerity would find sustainable development “costly” to implement and those who oppose it would consider sustainable development as barrier to growth, the high carbon growth which did bring the Nations to their prime but at the cost of the environment; which would be glossed over by impassioned speech more or less with the justification that they are doing this for the benefit of the people. And Peoples and Sheep from time of Anthony when he buried Cesar, get easily swayed in not recognizing the actual ambition of the Orator. And Europe is not alone in this, there are already grumblings on the Bunker fuel tax, Euro Zone has levied from January 2012; with even India along with China and Russia of the BRICS  group opposing it.

Capitalism, the form which is practiced today, measures profit by monetary gain only. It has so dis-oriented  the “experts” and “leaders” that it is difficult for them to come out of it. The system has trained Law & Business Graduates to distrust, mistrust, lie and intimidate at every turn. And when this is topped with greed and avarice, the heady mix is a dangerous concoction of disastrous results, which at times just needs a small nudge from Nature to implode/explode into a catastrophe – the most recent example is Fukushima, Lehman Brother episode. The Indian list is endless, so I best leave it for now by just saying; it is being mentioned that, should we be able to repatriate the money parked in off-shore accounts, India can have the 5 year plan of  Sustainable Growth covered in one go.

Although among climate experts, there’s an extraordinary level of agreement with 97 out of 100 climate scientists agreeing that humans are causing global warming. Action taken on the ground are far from satisfactory.

English: Inaugural Ministerial Meeting of the ...

English: Inaugural Ministerial Meeting of the Asia-Pacific Partnership for Clean Development and Climate in Sydney, Australia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Why is this happening? It is because the mandarins in power are straight jacketed in their thoughts vis-a-vis international commerce & trade as well as Geo-politics. Habits die hard and the more seasoned the diplomat, the more suspicious s/he would be of every proposal; even if it were for Climate change abatement and Sustainable Development. It came to as no surprise, when just post the failure of Copenhagen UNFCCC COP15 summit, a very high up in the Indian delegation said that, the failure is not because no one understood the grim reality of climate change; but inherently all consider it just another gathering of World Economic Forum in disguise. So each Nation / Group look at maximizing their economic benefit.

It is therefore imperative for the common person to understand the reasons and patterns behind the hardships they are facing and what their children would face; they need to understand that many are out of work because the corporates did not factor in the climate risks when polluting the earth endlessly, and being part of the employee pool we to have our fair share in it. This has to led to food crises in many Nations, drought & famine in other. This  desperate atmosphere at times creates situation for war & piracy at high-seas. It also encourages impressionable minds to dream of “paradise” when they willingly explode having nothing to lose.

When all the chips are down the only thing a human needs is -FOOD & SHELTER just like all other animals in this eco-system and Climate change is leading the world towards that disaster. The evidence of impending Armageddon is all around us to see, the trick is to abate it in time. Adaptation is a stop-gap option not the solution. Sustainable practice is all encompassing. It can not be seen in isolation. This I could learn over time through experience. From looking at sustainability through the narrow prism of Energy Efficient Building Design, it slowly dawned unto me that the buildings I think of designing and the Renewable Energy I love to promote can not exist in vacuum. They are but an infrastructure service for betterment of Humanity, and if modern Civilization gets devoid of mankind due to Climate change  what purpose would the buildings serve?

As the 8 Millennium Development Goals suggests – 1. Eradication of Extreme Poverty & Hunger. – talk to a hungry person of not cutting down a tree for sale as fire-wood so that s/he can feed the family, it just won’t work.

2. Achieve Universal Primary Education.-how else would the citizens understand and adapt to the various programs for betterment of the under privileged, who are fooled at every turn by the unscrupulous and thus face the brunt of any natural or man-made calamity.

3. Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women. – it is a fact that women have better intuition, more caring, perceive more colors  , can identify more through  smell, have a better memory power than men and have Emotional intelligence  far better then men. The list is endless. In India as in the rest of the world “Mother Goddess” was supreme. Today in India the worship of the female power as Goddess Shakti is only but a lip service, without understanding why our ancient ancestors put so much currency on the empowerment of women. For without having the Mother teaching a child to nurture how can Nature sustain itself ?

4. Reduce Child Mortality. Although India has the highest “youth capital”; it also has a dismal record of child mortality. A Country prospers on the back of the people – the farmer, the solider, the mason, the weaver; without able body to shoulder the burden, there would neither be food, shelter or clothing and none to protect the Nations wealth. 

5.Improve Maternal Health.- If the wealth of a Nation is its able citizens, then the continuity can only be maintained through sustained efforts to keep the mother of the child, who is the future of the Nation, healthy.

6. Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other disease. –Without education, gender equality and eradication of poverty; the complete physical, physiological and ecological balance suffers leading to disease and destruction.

Only by achieving the desired result in the above six can we complete the other two

7. Ensure Environment Sustainability- Reduction of Green House Gases and other forms of pollution is the only way to stop the Extinction of the modern Civilization.

8. Develop a Global Partnership for Development. – Sustained efforts in global partnership on Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) which
“serve as a crucial enabler for territorial development, accelerating progress in poverty reduction, while promoting inclusive growth.” By sharing knowledge of sustainable development practice Nations can learn from each other and create better job opportunities while veering away form the disastrous High Carbon Economy of today.

Courtesy:amazon.com/The-Fate-Species; scientific american.com/The Fate of the Species.;  abc.net.au/environment.

 

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Green Business Ideas: India gives a PAT to Inclusive Wealth Report 2012


Whatever said and done; the Prime Minister of India Dr. Manmohan Singh has the best sense of timing when it  comes to providing impetus to the Economy, launching PAT under NMEEE this week, is one such achievement. Let us look at how such green initiatives are going to be one of the best bet in boosting the Green Economy not only in India but world-wide.

A direct link can easily be established between India’s NAPCC agenda (of which PAT is a part) and IWR’s core thought. I had dealt in greater detail on what is NAPCC in – Green Business Ideas : India should promote NSM & NMSH to make NMEEE a success. So I will only bring out the thought which resonates with the IWR in this article. Below are some of the very recent remarks found on the News, post the culmination of UNFCCC‘s summit at Rio and excerpts from the UNU-IHDP’s & UNEP’s  report IWR 2012 .

guardian.co.ukThe bizarre weather of early summer in the US – from heatwave, wildfires, drought to freak storms – is just a sampling of what is to come for 2012 and a window to the future under climate change…..

green-buzz.net – Global warming will mess up with attempts to save the Amazon rainforest, based on a negative new research that predicts that a third of its trees will be wiped out by even small temperature rises. …

guardian.co.uk – Whenever an episode of extreme weather – heat wave, flood, drought, etc – hits the headlines, someone somewhere is sure to point the finger of blame at human-induced climate change….

bbc.co.uk – Leaves are getting narrower on some plant species as a result of changes to the climate, a study has suggested.

In the last decade, almost one million people have been killed by disasters and more than one trillion dollars have been lost. Yet only 1% of international aid is spent to minimise the impact of these disasters : UNDP

The remark of UNDP simply reinforces the scope and depth of opportunity global business has in extracting itself out of the morass of economic slowdown and begin towards a newer and dynamic economic model based on the lines of a B-Corp, a recent and fast catching phenomenon around the western hemisphere.  And presently the slow down of  world economy is partly due to the slowdown in ideas and direction in the EU and lets not forget the Lehman Brothers very soon, lest the USA makes similar mistake again, in its present climb-up the ladder of economic well-being.

“IWI is among a range of potential replacements which world leaders can consider as a way of bringing great precision to assessing wealth generation in order to realize sustainable development and eradicate poverty,”said UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner, during the launch of the Inclusive Wealth Report 2012 (IWR), a joint initiative launched at Rio+20 by the “International Human Dimensions Programme on Global Environmental Change (UNU-IHDP) hosted by the United Nations University and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

Wealth accounting, the concept behind the IWI, draws up a balance sheet for nations and shows countries where their wealth lies. By taking into account a wide array of capital assets a nation has at its disposal to secure society’s well-being, it presents a more comprehensive picture and informs policy makers on the importance of maintaining their nation’s capital base for future generations. The importance of keeping an eye on the full range of a country’s capital assets becomes particularly evident when population growth is factored in.

Key findings from the report are:

  • While 19 out of the 20 countries experienced a decline in natural capital, six also saw a decline in their inclusive wealth, putting them on an unsustainable track, Russia, Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, Colombia, South Africa and Nigeria were the nations that failed to grow. The remaining 70 per cent of countries show IWI per-capita growth, indicating sustainability.
  • High population growth with respect to IWI growth created unsustainable conditions in five of the six countries mentioned above. Russia’s lack of growth was due largely to a drop in manufactured capital
  • 25 per cent of countries which showed a positive trend when measured by GDP per capita and HDI were found to have a negative IWI per capita. The primary driver of the difference in performance was the decline in natural capital
  • With the exception of France, Germany, Japan, Norway, the United Kingdom and the United States, all countries surveyed have a higher share of natural capital than manufactured capital, highlighting its importance
  • Human capital has increased in every country and is the prime capital form that offsets the decline in natural capital in most economies
  • There are clear signs of trade-off effects between the different forms of capital
  • Technological innovation and/or oil capital gains (due to rising prices) outweigh decline in natural capital and damages from climate change, moving a number of countries – Russia, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela – from an unsustainable to a sustainable trajectory
  • Estimates of inclusive wealth can be improved significantly with better data on the stocks of natural, human and social capital and their values for human well-being.

Recommendations

While inclusive wealth has increased for most countries, the report shows that an examination of natural capital is crucial for policy makers.

Even though a reduction in natural capital can be offset by the accumulation of manufactured and human capital, which are reproducible, many natural resources such as oil and minerals cannot be replaced. As a result, a more inclusive definition of wealth that will secure a legacy for future generations is urgently needed in the discussion of sustainable economic and social development.

The report, which will be produced every two years, makes the following specific recommendations:

  • Countries witnessing diminishing returns in natural capital should invest in renewable natural capital to improve their IWI and the well-being of their citizens. Example investments include reforestation and agricultural biodiversity
  • Nations should incorporate the IWI within planning and development ministries to encourage the creation of sustainable policies
  • Countries should speed up the process of moving from an income-based accounting framework to a wealth accounting framework
  • Macroeconomic policies should be evaluated on the basis of IWI rather than GDP per capita
  • Governments and international organizations should establish research programmes to value key components of natural capital, in particular ecosystems.

UN Under-Secretary General and Rector of the United Nations University, Prof. Konrad Osterwalder, concluded that using the IWI would safeguard the interests of many developing nations.

If one reads the document of NAPCC  and compares it with the MDG’s which reads- “The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have functioned as an important tool to focus international attention and action around key pressing global issues,” he said. “As 2015 fast approaches, the deadline for meeting the MDGs, it is clear that the opportunities for many developing countries to achieve their goals may be compromised if the present rates of decline of various crucial ecosystem services continue.”  – one would find a lot of commonalities.

And in the recently launched PAT document India is moving another step in the right direction towards inclusive wealth generation. – Designated Consumers (DCs) account for 25% of the national gross domestic product (GDP) and about 45% of commercial energy use in India. In order to further accelerate as well as incentivize energy efficiency, the Government of India is designing a Perform Achieve and Trade (PAT) Scheme. PAT is a market based mechanism to enhance cost effectiveness of improvements in energy efficiency in energy intensive large industries and facilities, through certification of energy savings that could be traded. The genesis of the PAT mechanism flows out of the provision of the Energy Conservation Act, 2001.

By this one very act, if implemented properly business all-over the world would get a boost. An an Emerging Economy India needs to develop and for that it has to create capacity in the core fields of – 9 industrial sectors namely Thermal
Power Plants, Fertilizer, Cement, Pulp and Paper, Textiles, Chlor-Alkali, Iron & Steel, Aluminium and Railways.

To bring in energy efficiency in these core sectors Indian Industry would be looking at the West which whatever be the current economic scenario, still lead in R&D in many areas and has off-the shelf solutions for most industrial machinery. They have the state of art product design and solution and a need a wider market which can absorb the supply. The BRIC Nations are the ones which can rise up to the occasion and with PAT, India can attain leadership position by 2015, in this space. NMEEE can be divided into   PAT; MTEE; EEFP & FEED  and together they would not only be able to have a positive impact on the GDP but their implementation shall have a direct positive effect on various service sectors  and  create the much needed jobs all around.

Let us take the most important and controversial sector of Thermal Power Plants – it is one of the greatest concern for Environmentalist all over the planet and if this sector itself has to reduce its SEC, serious thought would be applied to overcome the challenges.  And through PAT it shall be addressed because conventional thermal power fuel is coal, which although a natural capital is also a potential GHG hazard and to extract it we need to deplete the most important wealth of any Nation – the forest cover.

The Indian Industry through the CII is already geared up for this challenge and ground work has already started. The CII – Sohrabji Godrej Green Business Centre [CII Godrej GBC] is promoting the concept of ‘Make Indian thermal power plants world class’. The main aim is to bring the industry together to exchange views and meet new technologies, facilitate continuous performance improvement in thermal power plants and thereby achieve world  class standards. I am confident that given the stakes, a green economy with long term wealth generation vs  “gone” ecology, the present Thermal Power plants which are coal fired and GHG intensive would take on the new avatar of  CSP driven thermal power plants.

To the common person who associate Thermal power plants to polluting coal and do not want to see them existing any-more, the coal is just a fuel that is used to boil the water to steam, which runs the turbines and generates electricity. In technical terms all that is required is to switch the fuel from the GHG intensive Coal to Concentrated Solar Power or CSP.  The era of Solar Aided Power Generation from Conventional Fossil Fuelled Power Stations has already arrived.

In the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region a great concept towards renewable energy is taking shape The DESERTEC concept which will be an astronomical step towards sustainable supply of green energy at a global dimension. It is estimated that CSP plants in MENA can generate up to 470, 000 MW by 2050. Similarly in the USA, Bright Source Energy’s tower solar collector in the Mojave Desert would supply up to 900 megawatts of clean energy to California in the next decade. The new technology will use several “power towers” at each commercial plant. An array of hundreds of mirrors known as heliostats will reflect sunlight onto a boiler atop each tower, and the resulting steam will power a turbine.

The above illustrates the great changes that are occurring in  the Industry and Economy of the world. And we have in the India context only  touched the first of the 9-DC’s considered under PAT. Rest assured, the green economy model would soon encompass all sectors of industry mentioned. And it would be the best thing than can happen to this planet.

 

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Green Business Ideas : Tall Buildings made from waste plastic is possible & its LCA is cheap – a builders delight and boon to Environmentalist


Business all over, in every Country is in flux. The fine tuning between Economic growth with least Environmental damage, while maintaining the modern life-style is challenging to say the least. But it is precisely during these challenging times, the World should go back and re-look at inventions – ignored during the ‘gold rush’ days in every sphere and bring forth into light others which are perhaps thriving in isolated pockets, but need the urgent attention to be brought out into the limelight and popularize it among the masses.

Thermo Polymerized Rock;  I did not even have the slightest idea that when I would sit down to write this article, every thing I would be asking the Green Building councils around the World to mull over, is already a ‘ open packet and serve’ solution. Affresol Modular Buildings are made from an innovative new structural product called TPR™ (Thermo Polymerized Rock).  It can be used to make the “Modular Buildings” and “Sectional House Frames” which have a Compressive Strength range 22 KN/mm2 to 38 KN/mm2. And perhaps there would be many more companies around the world doing the same. Its their time now. In India we have a Company Damanganga, which manufactures roofing and flooring sheets from waste, even some furniture, but I have not yet met a company which is making product like TPR.  Yes! the common people in the streets must know about it, not the intelligentsia discussing it in Five Star Hotel seminars.

BASIC countries (red) and other G20 countries ...

Image via Wikipedia

And if discussion indeed need to happen then it should be on how Tall Buildings in Asia can be made modular. And more so in the ever growing cities of South East Asia. Every one knows that in this economic gloom and doom period, the rising stars are the BASIC countries. India being one of them, would be having a revised projected growth of 5% to 6%  instead of 9%. And according to the Deputy Governor of the Reserve Bank of India, this can by no stretch of imagination be called ‘recession’; slower growth maybe. Therefore The European Union which is facing an economic crisis can harbinger overall growth by exporting their technology and expertise on TPR, help stave plastic pollution and earn some goodwill along with money. It could be the beginning of a great green business idea.

Because, as the South East Asian Cities grow, they bring with them problems, many of which have been addressed in my earlier articles ( http://wp.me/p1xbzq-a0http://wp.me/p1xbzq-7i; ). Mumbai and New Delhi both are signatories of C40 Cities program. In fact all over cities are looking to become Climate responsive. In this back drop, it would be one of the finest engineering goals for the Construction industry to devise about how Tall buildings in India can be built with TPR.

Imagine – 50 years down the line, all one has to do is dismantle section by section a whole sky scraper  and pack it of for recycling. No construction debris, no brown-field sites filled with plastic. Having popularized the method, one can just start mapping the embodied energy saved, from limiting the use of cement  & concrete, paint and other conventional building materials. Also, the basic being plastic, one can have thinner walls which are both sound proof as well as lighter in weight. This would surely reduce the structural steel and make more carpet area  to wall space  ratio .

A winner in every way, for now each plastic bag, article which was discarded without a thought would be a valuable article to be segregated and sold. Perhaps enterprising companies would trawl the ocean floors near the countless beaches and gather the plastics which as of now are cause of Environmental hazard!

 

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Small Cars Must Rule ! Curb on diesel cars need implementation


In a recent leading News Paper I happened to read that the automobile companies in India have requested the Government to re-think on putting an extra excise tax on Diesel passenger vehicles, namely SUV‘s and other high to very high-end Cars using diesel. Their argument is its going to affect their economy, and moreover its just a tiny 1.56% of the total diesel driven automobiles!
 

I confess at the start that I am no Ivy league MBA and can’t crunch statistics like the big corporate boys do. But in my dim-wit brain I need someone to explain me that if the diesel cars construed only 1.5%  of the total, why the petition? And I start to think what is this argument of 1.5% ? A trillion can also have 1.5% of it and a million can also have a 1.5% but the formers tiny percent can be the whole of 100% + of the latter! So as someone had said long ago – ‘statistics is the best way to lie and win an argument’ holds true. The brilliant and well meaning automobile manufacturing managers  perhaps have the well-being of the poor employees in their mind when they attempt to  protect the assembly line from closing down. So I will not hold it against them. But by increasing the demand of passenger cars which would be belching fossil fuel fumes especially more carbon–Di–oxide  is causing a disservice to the Nation. (http://www.diffen.com/difference/Diesel_vs_Petrol.)

However, I must  advocate for Clean technologies as it is the only way to abate Climate Change. I would also ask the big diesel car advocates to read the Stern Review and the SREX report of IPCC.  It is time that corporates and governments but most importantly the Citizens of the country start to understand that we have a very limited time to turn the tide against climate change. For we enter the Orange line for danger from 2017!

Diesel is understood to give more mileage and more efficient that petrol. But in India all may not be using the high-end diesel which is taking care of NOx which is a cause of concern from the pollution angle. Moreover once the public see that the price of fuel is cheaper the demand for diesel cars would shoot up. The price of diesel is cheaper in India because the Government offers a bigger subsidy on it than Petrol. As long as the public keep on demanding for “cheaper fuel” for their very big and costly cars, the automakers can not be put to fault. And as long as the Government of the day continues to buy the corporates argument, the public can not be held responsible. It is a wonder how easily in any argument we create demarcations – Government – Public – Automakers and forget that all are at the end citizens of a responsible Nation which should be at the fore-front to abate climate change.

All nations are facing the problem of balancing between the centuries old “industrial revolution” life-style which hyper-jumped on the back of fossil fuel to device a cleaner and more sustainable life-style without compromising on the creäture comfort we all have grown up with.  This can only happen if for once  these very best of India, the brilliant Corporate minds along with learned Citizens from various fields come together and devise a solution. Each in his/her personal capacity must break free from the chains of the company’s profit graph and attempt to create a level playing field in which bio-fuel driven or solar-driven or hybrid cars can create a viable alternative to the popular and practical cars of today.

And having done that, they should learn from the real experiences on the city roads of India and devise a plan to create superb SMALL passenger cars! And through their glib marketing and advertisement pamper the ego of the feudal minded ‘upper class’ that small is the new ‘BIG’!

Moreover, the super rich who buy big cars & suv’s with the argument that their large family would travel in comfort when they holiday usually have cars for each individual member or when holidaying they fly to Europe or other exotic destinations, leaving their large cars behind.

Let us see how is the Developed nations fairing in this – the EU’s voluntary agreements with motor manufacturers and the introduction of colour-coded CO2 labels in showrooms, the UK Government has introduced financial measures to favour cars with lower CO2 emissions.

Since March 2001 the annual Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) rate for new cars has been determined by their CO2 emission figure and the type of fuel used. This banding is linked to the voluntary colour coded CO2 A – G labelling scheme. Band ‘G’ was recently introduced but only applies to new cars registered on or after 23 March 2006. VED discounts are available for alternatively fuelled cars, e.g. hybrids, gas and biofuels.

Since 2002 company car drivers have been taxed according to their vehicle’s CO2 emissions and fuel type, again with diesel vehicles paying a tax penalty over petrol vehicles with similar CO2 emissions. Tax discounts are available for drivers choosing bio-fuel and hybrid electric vehicles.

On the fuels side, a Renewable Transport Fuels Obligation has been introduced which requires 5% of road fuels to come from a renewable source by 2010. This may be sold as a separate fuel (e.g. ‘E85’) or blended into normal diesel and petrol at low percentages (5% or less).

The European Union has now agreed a mandatory CO2 target for car manufactures. Under this legislation the average emissions of a manufacture’s vehicles sold in Europe will have to be below 130 grams of CO2 per kilometre by 2015.

In my opinion Small cars must rule ! Because –

It is easier to engineer a smaller and lighter vehicle to run at a decent  speed through alternate Eco-friendly fuel. And even petrol driven small cars can be more economical mileage wise, so demand for diesel car would reduce.

Almost 60% of the commuters are lone passengers who drive or are driven around on a daily basis so large cars belching diesel fumes are not really required.

Moreover although the diesel cars would be a percentage of the above 60% , a small statistical number but a HUGE difference in the abatement of Co2e. Because that small number of cars need to fill gas, read diesel – which need not be that small in measure.

Lastly, big SUV’s and large passenger cars  are not only big in size, they are heavier too. As any one who has plied on roads frequented by heavy vehicles would know – the roads wear out faster !

And what do we lay our roads with – Bitumen! A derivative of the most feared substance in terms of Climate Change –  A black viscous mixture of hydrocarbons obtained naturally or as a residue from petroleum distillation!

The articles that started the arguments (http://epaper.dnaindia.com/epapermain.aspx?pgNo=15&edcode=820009&eddate=2012-01-20) ( http://www.outlookindia.com/printarticle.aspx?279625 )

 
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Posted by on January 22, 2012 in Green House Gas, My Thoughts

 

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