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Smart City – Choosing between a Planned Development & a Development Plan.


Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India, on his 3 Nations tour is bringing once more the Nation into the World focus, therefore sooner than later the World economies would come. Especially to build those 100 Smart Cities. For that is a lot of money and a lot of business. But before that happens, it is important that the Common Man, as we like to call ourselves in India get to know the pros and cons of building ourselves more concrete jungle, in our quest to be called “developed”.

A City is a complex mix of building and infrastructure. But the most important component of a City is the Citizens. Devoid of it, many a Great City has perished & the Civilisation the city harboured followed suit. It is therefore imperative that we strive towards more Climate Resilient Cities, because the Climate is changing. And with every Epoch of Climate Change, Extinction follows!

As per the IPCC 4th Assessment Report, The building sector contributes up to 30% of global annual green house gas emissions and consumes up to 40% of all energy. Given the massive growth in new construction in economies in transition, and the inefficiencies of existing building stock worldwide, if nothing is done, greenhouse gas emissions from buildings will more than double in the next 20 years. Therefore, if targets for GHG reduction are to be met, it is clear that decision-makers must tackle emissions from the building sector. Mitigation of Green House Gas emissions from buildings must be a cornerstone of every National Climate Change strategy. (UNEP DTIE; Sustainable Consumption & Production Branch.)

According to the 2011 India Census, there are about 30 crore houses in the country. The census defines a house as a building or part of a building having a separate entrance from a road, common courtyard, stairs and so on. About 71% were occupied while 7.5% were vacant. In the cities of India 136 lakh homes were vacant. While 111 lakh rural homes were found empty. The above data would be read as a statistical roll out for the untrained eye, but for those who choose to care it shows how “development” as we call it is becoming lopsided. The simple reason being that while of the 136,000,00 homes lying vacant in Urban centres most would be due to following reasons.

1. Occupants were living in an alternate abode within the city or in some other city around the world.

2. It was an “investment” in Real Estate.

3. It was unsold Real Estate inventory.

And if one would delve deep into the reason of empty homes in villages the compelling reason would be that the villager was trying to eke out a living in the concrete jungle we so lovingly call a City.

But very soon, it would perhaps be the city dwellers who would be gasping for the breath of life, if changes which are important and urgent are not addressed by all stake holders.

This article would try and connect unseeingly disparate dots together to create a debate in the minds of the readers to look at events that take place in a more holistic manner to arrive at better building solutions for a Smart City.

We shall look into the reasons as to why Energy Efficient Buildings (EEB) which have the best of Energy Efficiency Measures (EEM) requires to be built in accordance to a mandatory legislation. For today “Green” buildings as we like to call them are not mandatory. And most being built are nothing but a “Green-Wash”. Either due to ignorance or avarice. We shall through this article build up bit by bit why we must look at solutions to build wise. Development is a necessity and it can not be stopped. But it can definitely be made more responsive and in sync with Nature. To do that this article shall dwell on two parts – 1. what a green building actually is and 2. how it can build climate resilient cities.

Not everyone understand why the term “Green Building” is used as an epithet for Energy Efficient Buildings. Therefore lets understand it in layman terms. Experts are excused from reading further.

1. What is Green Building?

A building which during its construction and occupancy, if by utilizing the best of construction methods and practices follow the principle of Reduce – Reuse – Renew – Recycle – Refuse; can be termed as a Green Building.

Reduce –

The building industry is the single largest consumer of all the industrial sectors. A building consumes Steel, Iron, Aluminium, Copper, Nickel, Tin, Cobalt & Various rare earth materials. It uses wires, paints, varnishes which need to be mined. Forest extracts not only means logged wood but with destruction of forests, wild-life too dies. Thus from paper to petroleum, textile to leather; there is almost everything even the mountains themselves, cut into slabs to adorn the floors of the house. Destruction is the first and foremost process of building a modern Building.

By reduction of use in construction materials through efficient design and construction practice; virgin materials need to be extracted less. This helps in retaining the “Green Cover” of the as yet unexplored mines for Ore or Coal. Or building and/or upgrading of existing Hydro-power plants or deep-sea Oil wells. The former inundates vast swats of lush green forest cover, and also most of the time the homes of the city pavement dwellers, who were perhaps proud farmers eking out an honest living and most importantly producing something which no city dweller can ever do – GROW FOOD !

Before the rising backwaters of the dams flooded their homes and sank their hopes for ever.

If one has ever seen a picture of an oil spill on the sea and the associated dead sea-life nothing more needs to be added beyond reminding that with every Kilo-Watt of power produced in India via Thermal (oil or coal fired) power plants; one can in a simplistic calculation consider use of 1Kg or Coal and 1 litre of water to produce the same. The Coal is ripped form the bosom of Earth by a tear called open-cast mining; with rips out every tree & grassland. Destroying the homes of burrowed animals like rabbits and proud tigers alike. In its wake it leaves a slush which contaminates the rivers, which slowly die. Both from reduced rain-fall as well as silt.

While the burning coal creates Green House Gas emissions, the likes of which today plague Indian cities. With every bit of reduction a construction engineer brings into a building project. Sustainability of life continues.

Reuse

By utilizing existing construction materials, through a complete supply chain recycling process and most amazingly by utilizing existing best designs! Yes designs. If one but pauses by any modern township or towers being built around any of the Indian Cities, one would find either flats, row-houses, bungalows of almost the same dimension and shape being built within that very project.

Simply put, a residential tower is nothing but stacking of row-houses horizontally and vertically; with services areas thrown-in. Thus almost everyone is having an identical house, made into an unique home by the way its is lived in! If a developer-builder company, utilizing a little more imagination beyond being swayed by Occidental designs and obscene RoI; could cash in on registering a few best designs and keep building them. It would then be promoting its very own “Signature” Style.

With each new building being built, the design and construction team would be able to keep raising the bar of excellence! For even if a design is the same, each project would throw in its own unique challenges and tweaks would have to be incorporated. But on the flip side the Master Material Sheet would become leaner and better. Design print-outs would be minimized as many details would still be relevant, within the old set of drawings from an earlier project.

Thus by the simple act of Reuse; a building and construction Industry can save life on Earth even while generating financial wealth for itself.

Renew –

The money saved thus could be utilized to buy the E-Paper Printers. Electronic paper, e-paper and electronic ink are display technologies which are designed to mimic the appearance of ordinary ink on paper. Unlike conventional backlit flat panel displays which emit light, electronic paper displays reflect light like ordinary paper. Many of the technologies can hold static text and images indefinitely without using electricity, while allowing images to be changed later. Flexible electronic paper uses plastic substrates and plastic electronics for the display backplane. This in effect would spur growth and business of a different dimension, while help check the destruction of virgin forests. To start with, about a half of the forests that once covered the earth are gone. Every year, another 13 million hectares disappear (although afforestation adds another eight back), and the World Resources Institute (WRI) estimates that only about 22 percent of the world’s old growth forests remain intact. The activities of the pulp and paper sector threaten the habitats of several rare wildlife species such as Asian big cats (including tigers), Asian elephant, Asian rhinos, and Orangutans. The remaining natural forests in Sumatra, Borneo, New Guinea, Russian Far East, Southern Chile and the Atlantic forest region in Brazil are endangered because of growing demand for pulpwood, among other threats. Forests also maintain the world’s abundant biodiversity, essential for life on Earth.

Renewal of life by the simple act of saving forest.

Recycle –

While it sure looks fashionable when a debonair man and a pretty woman tango together to break and destroy all that was a fully functional home around a tap ! (an advertisement by a tap company)

Unfortunately in India, the one that is destroyed and the one that gets built around the famous tap, the décor are “inspired” western designs. Thus near zero in climate responsiveness. The only message its sends out is how to induce further pollution. This unfortunately is the reflection the psychology of the society today. The best of practice would be to become more Oriental than Occidental.

The former is application of mind over matter. The latter is always mindless destruction of everything intelligent and vernacular. Especially in the Oriental context. The deep rooted culture of India has traditionally been towards conservation and recycling. An heirloom gifted to the daughter, the priceless Silk Sari handed down with pride and care. The feeling of pride to sit on the rocking chair which once belonged to the grandfather, when one himself becomes the grandfather. To use left-over of a dinner to cook a tasty & healthy breakfast. To live for generations in a house built by the ancestor. T

he sense of belonging and pride which has slowly but surely crumbled. Leaving the average Indian city dweller confused by the constant pull and push of cross-culture and time. Having forgotten that it is this disconnect from one’s own culture which is the root cause of Global Warming. Mythology are replete with examples of Man-Animal, Man-Plant co-existence. The Kamdhenu, The Kalpa Vriksha both are giver of plenty. A simple yet profound example set by our ancestors that without the trees and animals, humans can’t have their wish fulfilled. Culminating with the supreme example of Rama -Hunmana relationship. A synergy between Man-Animal, both considered as God themselves.

While modern building can be built and are being built from recycled materials as it has started making more economic sense, much still needs to be done when Interiors are designed. A commercial space be a hotel or hospital have constant wear & tear. Renovation is a must. But by allowing intelligence to dictate the norm rather than trend could save lots of money. A corporate bosses Burma teak wood table could be modified to be a receptionists desk, while the old reception table could go into making the internals of storage shelve. The high VoC which most of the adhesives and glues and paints carry, reduce in emitting their noxious fumes as they get older. It is best therefore to retain old furniture, as it is healthier.

The simple act of Recycling not only insures immediate health benefits, the forest remaining intact insures fresh oxygen keeps getting produced to sustain life.

Refuse –

Not many know that in the deep Pacific Ocean there lies a plastic garbage patch. Estimates of size range from 700,000 square kilometers (270,000 sq mi) (about the size of Texas) to more than 15,000,000 square kilometres. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch formed gradually as a result of ocean or marine pollution gathered by oceanic currents. The garbage patch occupies a large and relatively stationary region of the North Pacific Ocean bound by the North Pacific Gyre (a remote area commonly referred to as the horse latitudes). The gyre’s rotational pattern draws in waste material from across the North Pacific Ocean, including coastal waters off North America and Japan.

As material is captured in the currents, wind-driven surface currents gradually move floating debris toward the centre, trapping it in the region. The primary source of marine debris is the improper waste disposal or management of trash and manufacturing products, including plastics (e.g., littering, illegal dumping) … Debris is generated on land at marinas, ports, rivers, harbour, docks, and storm drains. Debris is generated at sea from fishing vessels, stationary platforms and cargo ships. Pollutants range in size from abandoned fishing nets to micro-pellets used in abrasive cleaners. Unlike organic debris, which biodegrades, the photo-degraded plastic disintegrates into ever smaller pieces while remaining a polymer. This process continues down to the molecular level. As it disintegrates, the plastic ultimately becomes small enough to be ingested by aquatic organisms that reside near the ocean’s surface. In this way, plastic may become concentrated in neuston, thereby entering the food chain.

Some of these long-lasting plastics end up in the stomachs of marine birds and animals & fish, many of these fish are then consumed by humans, resulting in their ingestion of toxic chemicals. Besides the particles’ danger to wildlife, on the microscopic level the floating debris can absorb organic pollutants from seawater, including PCBs, DDT, and PAHs. Aside from toxic effects, when ingested, some of these are mistaken by the endocrine system as estradiol, causing hormone disruption in the affected animal. (Text edited from Wikipedia).

When residential or commercial society post occupancy, refuse using of plastic and utilize proper waste disposal. Refuse application of polymer paint to their furniture or are careful when the materials are being used during interiors, they are saving the environment from degrading further. It would be good to remember that the salt we eat needs to be made out of drying out sea water. Humans already have plastic flowing in their blood stream, by refusing and limiting the use of plastic and other toxic materials into their building pre and post occupancy. One would be perhaps saving their own life.

The above 5-R’s constitute a “Green Building”. And thus by building or buying into one, every person contributes in doing his/her bit in saving the Environment.

2. What is a Climate Resilient City?

The United States of America have the following Climatic Zones – Tundra, Sub Arctic, Highlands, Continental Humid, Mediterranean, Marine West Coast, Desert, Steppe. The Europe has the Following Climatic Zones – Tundra, Sub Arctic, Highlands, Continental Humid, Mediterranean, Marine West Coast, Desert, Steppe.

The Sub Continent of India has the following – Highland, Humid Sub-Tropical, Tropical Wet and Dry, Arid, Semi –Arid, Tropical West.

If one goes for a tour of the Europe and North America one would find buildings built in accordance to their climatic conditions. Thus their City skyline too looks more or less the same.

The skyline of Indian cities also match and feel like any European or American city.Even though we don’t come anywhere close to their climatic conditions. Nowhere in the west would one find a copy of the Indian vernacular architecture. We on the other hand also feel proud to not have a single building designed as per Indian Architecture.

The swanky glass encased building in the long cold winter months, in the American & European countries help trap whatever sunlight available, causing a green house effect within the building. It helps in enhancing the warmth the Air-Conditioners create. Saving precious energy and fuel. With hardly 80+ days of Sunshine it is a smart thing to do in Europe.

Most SME business, in the equally swanky glass encased commercial buildings & shopping malls of India close down within the 5 years of operation as the 200+ days of Sunshine requires the Air-Conditioners to constantly hum in its effort to cool the building, while people sweat under the collars with the induced green house effect a glass house brings as a default. It also drills a large hole in their pockets.

When we start building climate responsive buildings, we would be creating a Climate Resilient City. Indians are by default intelligent and literate. But as with most around the world less educated about the manner in which their life-style affect the health of the planet. An erudite person would consider it foolish to design a wash-room with toilet paper instead of a health faucet. According to a report by David Braun of the National Geographic wrote in the World Watch Magazine worldwide, the equivalent of almost 270,000 trees is either flushed or dumped in landfills every day and roughly 10 percent of that total is attributable to toilet paper. India which traditionally washed itself find wiping more fashionable and thus design there 5-star Hotels similarly. Somewhere we have not got over in wiping a white….

Black or Grey water can be recycled and reused. Making of proper toilets is the beginning of building a Smart City.

A Swwacch Bharat.

The destructions of forests and natural habitat worldwide are leading to catastrophic changes in the weather pattern. The modern life-style must factor in climate change and global warming. And cities are the principal drivers towards this unwarranted change. For all the industry thrive upon the insatiable demand of a city. The need of creature comfort has spurred the race to build automobiles, appliances, accessories which have become more important than the basic building blocks of civilization. Food – Cloth – Shelter.

We are living on the Edge.

The unseasonal rain-fall India experienced early March 2015, has wiped out the Rabi Crop. In Sangli, Maharashtra 26,000 hectares of crop was lost. Pan India the loss is already a cause of concern as we are yet to fully recover from the $7 Billion loss Cyclone Hud Hud caused last year. More disasters are to happen, that we can no more stop. But we can surely adapt.

To conclude, when India builds its 100 smart cities, it should not only look at development but also the development plan. This is what the United Nations Mitigation and Adaptation Plan requires us to do.

 

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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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Why Climate Talks are mostly just that….


  • The combined average temperature over global land and ocean surfaces for October 2014 was the highest on record for October, at 0.74°C (1.33°F) above the 20th century average of 14.0°C (57.1°F).
  • The global land surface temperature was 1.05°C (1.89°F) above the 20th century average of 9.3°C (48.7°F)—the fifth highest for October on record.
  • For the ocean, the October global sea surface temperature was 0.62°C (1.12°F) above the 20th century average of 15.9°C (60.6°F) and the highest for October on record.
  • The combined global land and ocean average surface temperature for the January–October period (year-to-date) was 0.68°C (1.22°F) above the 20th century average of 14.1°C (57.4°F). The first ten months of 2014 were the warmest such period on record.

International talks to deal with a particularly potent greenhouse gas took a cautious step forward on Wednesday, as India and a host of other countries agreed to “informal discussions.”…Under contention are hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) — gases that, pound for pound, can trap up to a thousand times more heat than carbon dioxide when released into the atmosphere..

Indian Environment Minister

Prakash Javadekar, the environmental minister for India — the country that lead the previous opposition — laid out the issues that would have to be addressed to reach a final agreement. These include the way patents, intellectual property law, and other confidentiality agreements prevent India and other developed countries from making full use of new technology, as well as the fact that developed countries like the United States are historically responsible for the vast majority of HFC emissions. The talks, according to Javadekar, would need to be based “on the principle of grace period — that is differentiated responsibility, financial assistance, including that for research and development, technology transfer without the clause of confidentiality.(THINKPROGRESS Posted on November 21, 2014 at 11:08 am).

The above paragraph underscores the classical problem Modern Civilization, based on a flawed capitalistic idea faces. It is impossible for any Nation, to remove from the mindset of the populace  whence from, the elected representative are ultimately chosen to govern; not put profit before people. Our present day Economist along with Social Scientists have a lot of work to do. Undo the mind-set which is attuned to reward and recognize  “Crony Capitalism” as achievements.

No Nation is bereft from it…it’s the hangover from the British Empire. While every Empire be it Roman, Chinese, Mayan or Magadha Empire while expanding and consolidating must have wreaked havoc. The Modern European Empires had the Industrial revolution to help it wound the Earth very dangerously, in the process of acquiring riches. Thus the plunder of Earth resources reached its zenith.The resulting fallout is now known as Climate Change.

While the present Civilization no more address a modern day Business Conglomerate C.E.O as “Emperor”; that Presidents and Prime Ministers of Nations are made and unmade by them are no state secret. And unless the Emperors of today are made aware that they would lose all they have conquered..and also have the possibility of dying a horrible death caused by Ebola, little will change at the negotiating tables of the 21st Conference of the Parties on Climate Change 2015 in Paris.

In 2009 at Denmark the UNFCCC’s COP-15 rode on similar hopes. There was a new President of the USA. An African American and the World Environmentalist hoped spectacular achievements. But…..

On Friday 18 December, the final day of the conference, international media reported that the climate talks were “in disarray” Media also reported that in lieu of a summit collapse, only a “weak political statement” was anticipated at the conclusion of the conference. The Copenhagen Accord was drafted by the United States, China, India, Brazil and South Africa on 18 December, and judged a “meaningful agreement” by the United States government. It was “taken note of”, but not “adopted”, in a debate of all the participating countries the next day, and it was not passed unanimously. The document recognised that climate change is one of the greatest challenges of the present day and that actions should be taken to keep any temperature increases to below 2 °C. The document is not legally binding and does not contain any legally binding commitments for reducing CO2 emissions.

In January 2014, documents leaked by Edward Snowden and published by Dagbladet Information revealed that the US government negotiators were in receipt of information during the conference that was being obtained by spying against other conference delegations. The US National Security Agency provided US delegates with advance details other delegations’ positions, including the Danish plan to “rescue” the talks should they flounder. Members of the Danish negotiating team said that both the US and Chinese delegations were “peculiarly well-informed” about closed-door discussions: “They simply sat back, just as we had feared they would if they knew about our document.” (Wikipedia2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference )

The Paris UNFCCC’s COP-21 meeting will mark a decisive stage in negotiations on the future international agreement on a post-2020 regime, and will, as agreed in Durban, adopt the major outlines of that regime. By the end of the meeting, for the first time in over 20 years of UN negotiations, all the nations of the world, including the biggest emitters of greenhouse gases, will be bound by a universal agreement on climate. In order for the agreement to come into effect in 2020, at the end of the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, subsequent COP meetings will work on finalizing its details.

On 26 May 2014, Narendra Modi was sworn in as 15th Prime Minister of India.In 2009 the World was enamored by the superb oration of President Barack Obama of the USA. The World today fetes PM Narendra Modi as the Messiah of the economic woe’s that faces India and in the process of transforming India perhaps he would be able to help the World in general.

As an Indian it would make one proud. But, as an ENVIRONMENTALIST one is not so sure. Because much like President Obama, the pressure to perform and uplift the economy quickly, makes Prime Minister Modi to walk the same beaten track. A track trail blazed by Crony Capitalism ! with scant regard other than lip service to Climate Change abatement. And hiding behind cleverly worded text that pass legal scrutiny. Not because of it being legally sound but more so because the legal itself was crafted to suit the escapists.

 A President and a Prime Minister understands Realpolitik !

The term Realpolitik is sometimes used pejoratively to imply politics that are coercive, amoral, or Machiavellian. Something that has become norm is the past century

BUT…

it is politics or diplomacy based primarily on power and on practical and material factors and considerations, rather than explicit ideological notions or moral or ethical premises. In this respect, it shares aspects of its philosophical approach with those of realism and pragmatism.

We already know the way, what is needed is the political will. And to give strength to the political will It is also the duty of the citizens of the Nations which are today poised to impact what text would be written at the end of CoP21 to help their Head of State –

One is to show the way,

Yes! Trillions.For insects and plankton however tiny have life.
Summer flower blooms in hot, sultry November
Nov 30 2014 : The Times of India (Mumbai) Richa Pinto Mumbai:
Greens Worried As Unusual Weather Seems To Have Confused Nature.A Nerul (Navi Mumbai) resident was recently surprised to see a flower that generally blooms in the month of March in his backyard a few days ago. With the October heat phenomenon stretching till the last few days of November this year, it looks like even nature seems to have got confused.

But, to make people notice the change we have to make it into a Financial Change issue. Lets see how it has impacted the finance or if we use the politically sensitive word “budget” of the common man.To understand this we must understand the average Indian mind.

While Mumbai has been witness to a peculiar warm October, which meteorologist consider as “normal”; November sees temperature with in the 20’s. A high of 29°C to a low of 24°C can be experienced. This is more or less the temperature which allows the budget concious middle class to shut down & cover up their Air-Conditioners as the ambient temperature required for a good-night sleep is naturally available. However this November the hum of AC’s can be heard around the city at night.

This has an immediate impact on their monthly budget, which leaves them confused and angry while trying to make ends meet. At the same time the power companies have to cope with prolonged power shortages due to peaking of demand, thus their is more planned “load-shedding” in the rural areas to compensate for the same. Which leaves the already short-changed rural folks more disenchanted from the system and government of the day.

Should such climate anomalies continue…elected governments may fall. And the opposition would also not want to put their head into the chopping block.

This last piece of information hopefully would help change the mindset and manner of those who choose to “dedicate their lives in the service of the people.”…be that India or the USA !

 

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Digging the Arctic & India’s new CSR Law


Climate change is one of the most significant threats facing the world today. According to the American Meteorological Society, there is a 90 percent probability that global temperatures will rise by 3.5 to 7.4 degrees Celsius (6.3 to 13.3 degrees Fahrenheit) in less than one hundred years, with even greater increases over land and the poles. These seemingly minor shifts in temperature could trigger widespread disasters in the form of rising sea levels, violent and volatile weather patterns, desertification, famine, water shortages, and other secondary effects including conflict. (read more)

One day after the 66th Year of its formation, India gifted itself with one of the most profound laws in the World.

Friday, August 16, 2013:  With the aim of ensuring environmental sustainability, India becomes the first country to pass a Corporate Social Responsibility that proposes larger companies who have made a profit of at least $80 million over the past three years spend 2 per cent of each year’s profit on initiatives that will help in sustaining the environment.

With this law the Country could  have steped into the history of humankind as the Messiah. But a close look at the sentence …”who have made a profit of at least $80 million over the past three years spend 2 per cent of each year’s profit “…dashes all hope. A mere 2% of profit will not even save the Krills in the Arctic ocean,(click) without which the complete ecosystem would collapse as they are one of the principal factors of carbon capture.

With this single sentence, it joined the club of countries whose thoughts and actions don’t match.

It is a telling report on the moral bankruptcy of those whom we think would lead this modern civilization out of the mess we are already in. It also indicates how the ones who actually want to bring in change;  there are still many among our ever increasing corrupt politicians, who are clean & honest;  are sidelined by those who want to “keep the change” of silver coins in their coffers already spilling with blood money.

Yes! Blood money..because humans can’t even cook a decent meal or build a cottage without killing some life-form in the process. It is a sad commentary on those who consider “realpolitik” superior to statesmanship.

India joins Arctic Council May 16, 2013India’s bid for observer status in the Arctic Council was successful on Wednesday along with that of five other countries — China, Italy, Japan, South Korea and Singapore — at a meeting in Kiruna, Sweden.Ministry of External Affairs, New Delhi, welcomed India’s admission. An MEA spokesperson said India would contribute its scientific expertise, particularly its polar research capabilities, to the work of the Arctic Council to support its objectives.However, at the level of Realpolitik, India will be looking at the opportunities for hydrocarbon exploration offered in the Arctic circle by joining hands with one of the five countries gearing up for the purpose — the U.S., Canada, Norway, Russia and Denmark.From the point of view of geographical distance, Russia will be the most attractive partner. With the Arctic ice melting fast and opening up business opportunities in the region, India’s ministry of earth sciences has devised a strategy to get a share of the action. India recently became a member of the Arctic Council, a high table of eight countries, including big players such as the US, Canada, Norway, Russia, and Sweden. In May, India and China got permanent observer status in the council.

“We will strengthen our Arctic labs. Right now, we don’t keep them running round the year, but only for eight months. Now, we are thinking of keeping it working for 12 months. We may subsequently add one more station,” MoES secretary Shailesh Nayak told dna while detailing how India would improve its Arctic programme in the next two-three years.

Scientific studies have estimated the Arctic region would have ice-free summers within the next 10-15 years, opening opportunities such as vast, untapped oil and gas reserves, unexploited marine living resources and shorter commercial shipping routes. According to estimates, the region holds 13% of the world’s undiscovered oil reserves and 30% of undiscovered gas deposits.

But to exploit these opportunities, scientists say, countries first need to understand how the region would change when the ice melts.

When one commits a mistake, pardon is the best recourse. But when it is a deliberate and calculated act of omission with full knowledge of the consequences then the people of this Planet need to pause and question the direction of progress.  Through this article, the flip-flops of the government and the confusion prevailing in the world is highlighted. Progress can only be attained through progressive thought and moral conviction. Sadly we are progressing no more.

Dear colleagues,

On behalf of the consultation team, sharing the latest report by TEEB (The Economics of Ecosystems & Biodiversity).

Environmental Sustainability Post 2015 Consultation team.

Commissioned by the TEEB for Business Coalition, the report “Natural Capital at Risk: The Top 100 Externalities of Business” identifies the world’s largest natural capital risks and opportunities for business and their investors. Authored by Trucost, the report quantifies environmental externalities such as damages from climate change, pollution, land conversion and depletion of natural resources, across business sectors and at a regional level. It demonstrates that the profits of high impact business sectors would be wiped out if the costs of environmental damage and unsustainable natural resource use are accounted for. This report highlights the urgent need for businesses to manage natural capital assets and reduce liabilities. Businesses and investors can take account of natural capital impacts in decision making to manage risk and gain competitive advantage.

 Headline findings are:

  • The primary production (agriculture, forestry, fisheries, mining, oil and gas exploration, utilities) and primary processing (cement, steel, pulp and paper, petrochemicals) sectors analyzed are estimated to have externality costs totaling US$7.3 trillion, which equates to 13% of global economic output in 2009. The value of the Top 100 externalities is estimated at US$4.7 trillion or 65% of the total primary sector impacts identified.
  • The majority of environmental externality costs are from greenhouse gas emissions (38%) followed by water use (25%); land use (24%); air pollution (7%), land and water pollution (5%) and waste (1%).

 Highest impact externalities are:

  • Coal-fired power in Eastern Asia and Northern America rank 1 and 3, respectively estimated at US$ 453 billion per annum and US$ 317 billion. These consist of the damage impacts of greenhouse gas emissions, and the health costs and other damage due to air pollution. In both instances, these social costs exceeded the production value of the sector.
  • The other highest impact sectors are agriculture, in areas of water scarcity, and where the level of production and therefore land use is also high. Cattle ranching in South America, at an estimated US$ 354 billion ranks second. Wheat and rice production in Southern Asia rank fourth and fifth respectively.

The report assessed more than 100 environmental impacts using the Trucost environmental model which condenses them into six Environmental Key Performance Indicators (eKPIs) to cover the categories: water use, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, waste, air pollution, water and land pollution, and land use.! These eKPIs were then quantified by region across over 500 business sectors.

Hope this stimulates further discussion.

Best regards,

Environmental Sustainability Post 2015 Consultation team.

The melting ice in the Arctic Ocean means that more ships are plying the northern sea route in the summer months than ever before. In 2012, over 46 vessels sailed the route, compared to 34 in 2011 and only four in 2010. Reports said Chinese scientists aboard a Ukrainian-built icebreaker, the Xuelong or Snow Dragon, completed the country’s first trans-Arctic ship voyage from Shanghai to Iceland.

Ocean Pollution: Global Shipping and the Cruise Industry(click to read)

16 ships create as much pollution as all the cars in the world: As ships get bigger, the pollution is getting worse. The most staggering statistic of all is that just 16 of the world’s largest ships can produce as much lung-clogging sulphur pollution as all the world’s cars.Because of their colossal engines, each as heavy as a small ship, these super-vessels use as much fuel as small power stations. But, unlike power stations or cars, they can burn the cheapest, filthiest, high-sulphur fuel: the thick residues left behind in refineries after the lighter liquids have been taken. The stuff nobody on land is allowed to use….There are now an estimated 100,000 ships on the seas, and the fleet is growing fast as goods are ferried in vast quantities from Asian industrial powerhouses to consumers in Europe and North America. (read more).

India Steps Up Climate Change Efforts (August 24, 2013): As international climate negotiations progress this week in Bangkok, Thailand, India has shown signs of more proactive engagement on climate change issues both internationally and at home.While the Indian government continues to emphasize poverty alleviation and economic development as the country’s highest priorities, recent stances on domestic emission reductions indicate that India is taking considerable steps to encourage more constructive global climate talks. India joins a growing contingent of developing countries that “are making very significant efforts to show what they are doing to address climate change and indicate what more they are willing to do,” according to U.N. climate chief Yvo de Boer.Until recently, India had repeatedly rejected calls to quantify its targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions on the grounds that this would jeopardize national poverty alleviation goals.”India cannot and will not take emission reduction targets because poverty eradication and social and economic development are first and over-riding priorities,” Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh said in June. But two weeks ago, in a surprising reversal, India agreed to quantify its efforts to mitigate climate change. Ramesh said India would reduce emissions by “a broadly indicative number,” although the reductions would still not be bound by international law. At the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate in Italy in July, India joined 16 other countries in declaring that the increase in global average temperature above pre-industrial levels should not exceed 2 degrees Celsius. This goal remains somewhat controversial, however, as there is still no clear agreement on how countries will share the burden for reducing global emissions. (read more)

The Copenhagen Accord – Calls for “an assessment of the implementation of this Accord to be completed by 2015… This would include consideration of strengthening the long-term goal”, for example to limit temperature rises to 1.5 degrees.

Statement by UNFCCC Executive Secretary on crossing of 400 ppm CO2 threshold(Bonn, 13 May 2013)
Reacting to the fact that the concentration of heat trapping carbon dioxide in the atmosphere last week passed the 400 parts per million mark at Mauna Loa, Hawaii, the Executive
Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change Christiana Figueres on Monday called for a greatly stepped up response to climate change by all parts of society: “With 400 ppm CO2 in the atmosphere, we have crossed an historic threshold and entered a new danger zone. The world must wake up and take note of what this means for human security, human welfare and economic development. In the face of clear and present danger, we need a policy response which truly rises to the challenge. We still have a chance to stave off the worst effects of climate change, but this will require a greatly stepped up response across all three central pillars of action: action by the international community, by government at all levels, and by business and finance.”
While India’s CSR Law is a positive step in the right direction, unless the World wakes up to it and adds its share, the effort would be futile.
Excellence can not be achieved in isolation neither as a person nor as a Nation.
Just as an excellent dinning requires 56 dishes to accomplish with (chappan bhog) and 16 adornments are required to exemplify beauty (solah singar) of a woman – such will be the need for this planet attain its former pristine self. We need contribution from all sectors of business & industry of all Nations, in perfect synchronization to attain this feat.

 

 

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Sustainability can’t grow under a Managing Director.


Every Wo/man wants to leave their foot-prints in the sands of time. But in trying to achieve that very goal we have accelerated our time towards oblivion. We shall try to connect the dots leading us towards that horror.

GLOBE-Net, May 2, 2013 – New research from the Environmental Investment Organisation (EIO), a climate change and finance think tank, shows that the level of public disclosure of greenhouse gas emissions among the world’s largest 800 companies is unacceptably poor. Only 37% of companies are reporting complete data and correctly adopting the basic principles of greenhouse gas emissions reporting. Only 21% had their data externally verified. (read more)

In the recent edition of Energitica India Magazine Ms. Mili Mazumdar; Director Sustainable Habitat TERI asked a very pertinent and thought provoking question – Incentives can lead you to certain points. However, think about this, do you incentivize yourself to breathe fresh air ? (read more)

India Water Portal writes – Contamination from sewage waste, landfill run-offs, pesticides and open drains is the reason for high nitrate concentration in Delhi’s groundwater. Consuming this water can cause many health problems including the ‘blue baby syndrome’ in children. Adults aren’t impacted directly but the fact remains that toxic pesticides are present in most parts of Delhi’s groundwater .Read more at – Delhi groundwater unfit for consumption – Weekly news roundup (April 29- May 5, 2013)

The Times of India (Mumbai edition) 28 Apr 2013 Mumbai – Malathy Iyer : A study by a Navi Mumbai doctor has found a growing incidence of genital abnormality among newborn boys possibly because of increasing exposure to endocrine disruptor chemicals that usually occur in plastic bottles, food wraps, cosmetics, toys, etc.Dr Arbinder Singal noticed an alarming increase -almost 200%-in the incidence of undescended testicles, where the male hormone testosterone is produced. “We found almost 5% of 1,154 full-term newborn male babies had undescended testes,” he said. The last study in India done in 1972 showed an incidence of 1.6%. Singal, a paediatric urologist with MGM Hospital in Vashi, presented his findings at the European Society for Paediatric Urology on Friday. (read more)

In a Country which is obsessed with boys and female infanticide is still rampant, the above news though somber makes a fitting case for the environmental crusaders to argue their case strongly. More so because whether one likes it or not, the effect of poisoning will hit both the rich and the poor alike. More so the rich who can afford to buy biscuits wrapped in triple layer of plastic.

May 6, 2013, 7:25 AM:

For the first time in human history, atmospheric carbon dioxide levels will surpass 400 parts per million, according Scripps Institution of Oceanography, which has been measuring carbon dioxide in the atmosphere at the Mauna Loa volcano in Hawaii since 1958.“The 400-ppm threshold is a sobering milestone, and should serve as a wake-up call for all of us to support clean energy technology and reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, before it’s too late for our children and grandchildren,” said Tim Lueker of the Scripps Institution in a statement.The level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is closely linked to global warming. The more carbon dioxide, the higher global average temperatures have climbed, according to climate science. (This graphic shows how global temperature and atmospheric carbon dioxide levels have been linked in the past 400,000 years).

The reason why we are still in denial mode in almost everything related to sustainability and the ill-effects of Global Warming due to Climate change is very complex. But we will through this article once more try and connect the dots of seemingly unrelated chain of events which would perhaps lead to a disaster so great that mitigation would no longer be possible. And that the situation is almost upon us can be understood through the report above.

But why even after 20 years of continuous efforts by the various arms of the United Nations especially the UNFCCC we have reached this sorry state of affairs ? I would from my personal experience attribute one of the major factor to the designations humans tend to give themselves. While a CEO or MD is supposed to define the scope of work a man is supposed to have within an organization, it is a natural human folly to consider this position; barring a very elite and respected few; as a certificate to rule. Arrogance becomes a part and all that is important is narrow self-interest. This allows for taking decisions which are detrimental to the environment and the society at large while serving to elate the position and power of self using the self-defeating and wrong capitalistic ideas which has led us to this present sorry state. No wonder EIO could only find 37% of Corporates  reporting on their GHG. Business as Usual always comes first. (Business As Usual – a sure-fire guide to kill Sustainable Development Goals.)

Unless a President or a Chairman is made aware that his use of even a simple thing such as air-conditioning and lights in the office has a direct bearing on the environment and health of millions and is made to pay for such luxury; CSR would be a sham which it is in most corporates. (World Water Day – Do you know how much water a light bulb consumes?)The CEO and his/her managers must be made aware that pollution which they do not feel while traveling in closed gas-guzzling SUV’s and drinking bottled water only would not wish away the reality of ground water contamination or keep their newborn child safe from genital abnormality due to plastic poisoning.

Climate change and there related aftermaths would effect one and all.

Washington D.C ! The seat of worlds military and political power. A place were the first citizen and many first among equals reside. And many among those had heard Severn Suzuki speech eons back in 1992 ! And sat smug even 20 years later when she spoke at the Rio  Earth Summit. As one hears her speak it is remarkable to see the body language of many across Nationalities, who had little clue of the storm Sandy growing in the womb of the Atlantic to wreak havoc. A damage so great that the aftermath is still being discovered.

And one of the best examples of it is the related report in Huffington Post Green  04/30/13 12:47 PM ET EDT: Superstorm Sandy released 11 billion gallons of sewage from East Coast treatment plants into bodies of water from Washington, D.C., to Connecticut, according to a report released Tuesday by a science journalism group.(read more).

It is remarkable how Continents apart in New Delhi & Washington D.C ground water is contaminated. We indeed live in a global village. And it is time we recognize that the dangers of climate change and unsustainable living would effect us all.

We all are equally responsible. If one visits the great pacific garbage patch, I’m sure every Nation is represented there in all its ugly mess. The video in the attached link is seriously scary. That this garbage is breaking down into microscopic poisonous particles and getting back into our system may need some more research to be proven conclusively, but the probability that it is being carried back to the land in the belly of fishes or the rain-clouds which helps us till the land for agriculture can’t be discounted.

Humans do what they do; whether right or wrong is because they want to live a life of comfort and luxury. But the havoc they are causing to the environment would make them and is already making them pay a terrible price, as evident from the few reports given above.

But perhaps as a species we change only when the damage is mind boggling in scale. We are perhaps waiting for the incentives we would need to breathe fresh air. Perhaps then it would make business sense to clean up our act.

 

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Green Business Ideas – Banking on World Banks dire warnings!


As always, my limited knowledge in all things makes me strive for simple solutions to vexing problems. In this article too, I would try to wake the powers that be to start a movement of the masses, and not publishing reports which only the educated ( markedly different from the literate ) read.

World Bank fears devastating 4.0 degree warming – By Shaun Tandon (AFP)

WASHINGTON — The World Bank warned last Sunday that global temperatures could rise by four degrees this century without immediate action, with potentially devastating consequences for coastal cities and the poor.

Issuing a call for action, the World Bank tied the future wealth of the planet — and especially developing regions — to immediate efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions from sources such as energy production.

“The time is very, very short. The world has to tackle the problem of climate change more aggressively,” World Bank President Jim Yong Kim said on a conference call as he launched a report conducted for the global lender.

Even if nations fulfil current pledges, the study gave a 20 percent likelihood of a four-degree rise by 2100 and said that a three-degree rise appeared likely. UN-led climate negotiations have vowed to limit the rise of temperatures to no more than two degrees.

The dire warnings were designed to encourage bolder action, but the report did not focus on potential steps.

Identifying one area, Kim called for less reliance on coal, which is the dirtiest major form of energy but is politically sensitive in the United States and China due to industry jobs.

The report was carried out by German-based Climate Analytics and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. The World Bank said it did not consider the study a substitute for next UN-backed scientific assessment on climate change expected in 2014.

In another related article – Forest Conservation is Key to Food Security Terry Sunderland, senior researcher with the Center for International Forestry Research, CIFOR, based in Bogor, Indonesia said biodiversity contributes to food security on many levels.

“We are now dependent on only 20 crops for our food security.  At any one time, it is estimated that over 2,000 crop species contribute towards human food security, and 95 percent of food consumed is based on only 20 of those.  A few of those–rice, wheat, and maize–contribute to more than 50 percent of global food consumption. By narrowing our genetic base in terms of food, we are exposing ourselves to enormous risks, particularly with climate change.  He said widening our bio-resources not only provides nutritional benefits to humans but also provides more resilience to the dramatic effects of climate change.”

The U.N. estimates the world population will reach 9 billion by 2050, bringing with it a greater demand for food. Growing appetites could lead to greater deforestation as more trees are felled to make room for agriculture. The report recommended smarter agricultural practices to bring greater productivity on existing agricultural land.

There is a proposed U.N. mechanism to protect forests and ease climate change. It’s called REDD, which stands for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation in developing countries. The U.N. says REDD relies on the technical expertise of the Food and Agriculture Organization, the U.N. Development Program and the U.N. Environment Program. One of the goals is to include indigenous peoples and forest-dependent communities in policy making.

I waited these 6 days since Sunday last, to see the effect of the dire warnings! It did not even find a mention in the so called best News Channels ( which is watched by the “aam admi” = common man; also called the mango people by the rich & corrupt). Climate change report is too boring. Unless it changes into a deadly storm killing and damaging millions !

Digressing a little from the subject of my article, but perhaps equally pertinent, I could not help but notice that most News channels carried the recent escalation between Hamas & Israeli army. Each bombing the other, and having the potential of creating another War in the region, already strife – torn.

I wrote an article long back, asking the UN a simple question Will UNEP lose to UNSC to avert Global Warming? The way things are, I don’t think we have any statesmen left in the UNSC to join the dots which would lead them to the concerns of UNEP. My request to the readers is that when s/he reads the contents of the crackers which is the subject of this article, to pause and take the effort to browse the internet on what would be the contents of a real bomb, which are being dropped by all the Peace loving Nations, some at the behest of Noble Peace Prize winners in the bid to keep peace in this World.

While the Environment effects of War are well known by the UN and in a bid to curb this it has printed on quality paper many a resolutions, distributing multiple copies; I present two of them in a little more greener format. The first link from the UNHCHR and the  second link from an article named Environmental effects of Warfare by Lenntech, which is a must read shows how almost all of us know the misery War brings to the environment. The effect, War has over Water – Air – Soil are mind boggling. Yet, Nations after Nation amass Weapons of mass destruction and in the event of a conflict, destroy standing crop which could feed millions.

What is the cost of War to Sustainable Living ? The Avaaz Foundation, has raised some of the most pertinent questions  through “Six shocking facts of everyday life” on one particular place/region; however it is true in some form or other all around us. Although we don’t have the luxury of time and must tackle all problems pertaining to environmental degradation at once, we still need to educate the common person. The final architect of change. Because, sustainable living is a little more complicated than walking on a Green Carpet instead of a Red one to collect the best motion picture award for an environment documentary.

I would use the warning from the World Bank, to focus on the trade and business of Fire Crackers,( the demo version of the trade and business of armaments) . As it is the concern of loss of trade & business (on a more permanent basis, should the world sink underwater)  which has made the World Bank say what it has.

This image is as published in a DNA article  which the Avaaz Foundation released during “Diwali” or Deepawali (festival of lamps) a Hindu festival which once meant celebrating the conquest of good over evil and symbolically lighting a lamp to dispel darkness. And so it was celebrated till China invented the Firecrackers !

Now, each year thousands of Indians burn huge amount of money with determined purpose and glee to pollute the environment in every imaginable way possible. And although sporadic, but consistently beat up any Non – Avaaz  ( Avaaz in Hindi means Noise ) lovers who dare to protest. After all according to firecracker industry sources the high-street value of the industry should be over Rs 8,000 crore.

So every year India in the matter of just 2 days burns up Rs 8,000 crore to create pollution which directly and indirectly affect the life and limb of People and Planet. The article Risks in organised fireworks sector,  although sombre is just a tip of the ice-berg of problems associated with manufacture and use of firecrackers. Quoting a paragraph from the article –

Sadly, while in the past firecrackers were used mainly during Diwali it has now become de rigueur for almost every festival that is celebrated across the country. Even weddings, birthdays and other social events see the bursting of noisy firecrackers.
Successful candidates in elections — to parliament, state assemblies, local bodies, or even university and college posts — also believe in ‘celebrating’ their victories by bursting firecrackers. They are also burst by fans to celebrate the Indian cricket team’s victories both at home and abroad.

Courts in India have directed the authorities to impose a ban on the lighting of firecrackers after 10 pm, but these are observed more in the breach. Since the bursting of firecrackers has now become a national pastime, the police simply ignore the violations.

It becomes clear, that when money comes into play law is the first causality. Next, comes ignorance. With literacy being the main focus and not education, we have many literate buffoons sadly elected to legislate laws which they hardly themselves understand.

So how do we address this challenge? As usual, we convert it into a Green Business Idea. While I am not surprised that India does not have any calculation on the GHG emission caused by Firecrackers, and as bursting of fire-crackers is a World phenomenon ( Chinese are indeed the best businessmen); I found in an article posted in TreeHugger the annual U.S. emissions from fireworks: 60,340 tons!

If we assume this as India’s emission and bring into perspective Rs 8000 crore. We have an idea to propagate. Say we divide 60,340 / 8000 = 7.5 crore per tonne.We have the potential to earn Rupees 7.5 crore per tonne in abatement of bursting fire-crackers. I have deliberately not used the CDM method of calculating GHG emission  because it is so complex that the common man would simply give up and never would agree to “pay” the DOE. And why should they? In fact we can activate the miners club for mineral management and insist that better money be paid to those mine owners who do not allow the precious minerals dug up at the cost to the ecosystem be blown up thus. ( enlarge image to read the contents of a fire-cracker, its amazing what we do to our planets resources)

What if the concerned World Bank devices an instrument based on the assumed business worth of the fire-cracker industry; to measure the impact of GHG city wise in India and grants the Municipal organisation money each year for every GHG producing fire-cracker not burst? And also create a cess of say 20% to rehabilitate the workers and the industry owners towards sustainable business practice? Maybe the dire consequences of a 4°C could just be averted.

Sustainable Business is the best business. What we need is a Green Business Idea for every environmental problem present. Hope someone would draw the attention to my idea to World Bank President Jim Yong Kim. It could just have a chance to become a real tool perhaps, in the hands of better men.

 
 

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CDM -the Scam & the Redemption


In the absence of any monitoring system under the UN’s Clean Development Mechanism or CDM (see box), DNA has found that several large projects in India that have been declared green and sustainable under the scheme are not only polluting the local environment but were also established by violating various environment laws. However, because of their status, these firms are permitted to sell carbon credits in the market, earning huge revenue in the process. These are the paragraphs from a superb investigative Journalism by DNA corespondent -Gangadhar S Patil.

In his article, Carbon Credit Fraud: How big firms faked green to mint gold he goes on to say – High cost and uncertainty ensure that many genuinely clean and sustainable projects fail to attain CDM status. These projects, handled by small-time developers, fail to attain CDM status because of the high cost involved in the application and verification process. Even if they manage to pass these hurdles, they don’t earn enough carbon credits to attract real traders in the market.

What Mr. Patil, infers is more horrifying than just the manipulation of the scheme to amass wealth, it is down-right criminal, if true.

Absorptions bands in the Earth's atmosphere cr...

Absorptions bands in the Earth’s atmosphere created by greenhouse gases and the resulting effects on transmitted radiation. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Are firms deliberately overproducing greenhouse gases (GHG) for the sole purpose of destroying them in order to earn revenue through the sale of carbon credits under the clean development mechanism or CDM scheme? The first indication is the fact that an analysis of the total carbon credits issued to projects across the globe, including India, shows that over 50 per cent of the total carbon credits issued until July 2012 were for the destruction of a deadly greenhouse gas called HFC-23 (Hydro Fluoro Carbons-23). It is 11,700 times more potent a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide and is created during the manufacture of HCFC-22, a gas used in refrigerators and air conditioners.

In comparison, renewable energy projects like wind, solar and biomass, together, account for less than 30 per cent of the total carbon credits issued in India; the figure is 20 per cent for the world. The CDM scheme allows firms manufacturing HCFC-22 to earn huge carbon credits by destroying its by-product, HFC-23. Since the cost of producing HCFC-22 is lower than the revenue generated by the sale of carbon credits issued for destroying HFC-23, it is possible that HCFC-22 is being manufactured solely for the purpose of destroying its by-product and earning carbon credits instead.

English: Greenhouse Gases

English: Greenhouse Gases (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The second red flag is the fact that despite a sharp fall in the price of HCFC-22 due to supply exceeding demand and steep global economic recession, the production of this GHG has continued to remain at the same level…….Experts are not clear about what is happening to the excess HCFC-22 produced. Some believe that companies could be stocking it; others believe it is being clandestinely released into the atmosphere. As a result, there is no actual reduction of greenhouse gases though the total number of carbon credits issued is huge.

The last sentence would and should give shivers to any right thinking person. However, with the Country governance is doldrums due to the impact of one scam to another, the latest being coal; the knee-jerk reaction the government took this week in boosting the economy would not only impact the rudimentary Sustainable practices, it can erode it completely, with some  corporates muscling in their agenda of “growth” at the cost to the ecosystem.

carbon-Credit-Card

carbon-Credit-Card (Photo credit: charlesfettinger)

Today the greatest unrest is because of Energy requirement, which comes from fossil fuel and with Coal hitting the scam list, it would be difficult for the government to allow mining ( unless strong-arm tactic are used) and feed the critical requirement of the industries. Thus importing coal would gather steam. Which in no way helps in abating GHG, just reduces pollution at ones own door. The second being LPG, now it is well documented that Oil corporations are bleeding due to subsidy, but to stem the flow what is required is imagination not short-term solution.

Further, the increase in LPG price and the cap in its domestic use, would spawn another scam /corruption which now is a default setting among us.

And to stay in governance the Government would be very tempted to turn a blind eye on the misdeeds. So what must be done to balance “growth” and come out of the log-jam which is called “policy paralysis”?

As always, each problem has sustainable solutions; we only need to find them and in this article through the use of CDM.

In a recent debate, to the current situation at TIMES NOW TV, one of the guest in the Panel quoted – ” Darkness is not opposite of Light but the absence of light”.  Resonating the sentiment I would say that the failure of the CDM policy is not the failure of the idea, for the idea in itself is the original “Green Business Idea”  under which heading I have written many a blog and today I rest my arguments with the link to a series of those which directly point to a solution. What is required is to make the system a little more fool-proof. And to this extent the media, with its depth of reach should partner those who walk the path towards sustainability.

It is well documented, that traditionally in India the debt of the Father is paid by the Son. Horrific tales of the Bonded Labour are known to many. But if it’s a sad tale, it also has an opposite side. The side which investors in CDM and the Banks need to see; the honesty of the grass-root citizens of India. Unlike corporate frauds, they pay their debts. At times with their lives.

The Indian as opposed to the pseudo (westernised) Indian, always has paid respect to Nature and if one takes any religious festival of India, Nature is given due importance. In my earlier article Disconnect from ones culture is the root cause of Global Warming & Disconnect from ones culture is the root cause of Global Warming;Part-II Killing Trees; I have tried to document this aspect within the limited knowledge I could gather.

Further, I believe that the concepts which I have attempted to project through many of the articles termed Green Business Ideas, and especially – Renewable Energy – Empowering Women & Saving Forests; Green Building Ideas:Using Solar panels as roofing sheet instead of asbestos. All have the potential to earn CDM benefits. We can call them CER or REC; the money can be international or national but it must be available at the grass-root level. And at the level where innovations make a difference.

Greenhouse gas intensity in 2000 including lan...

Greenhouse gas intensity in 2000 including land-use change. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

While we still need to rip the bowels of our Mother Earth, to feed our insatiable needs, we can actually limit them by creative thought; Green Business Ideas: Solar Panels can save water in the fields for farmers.This very act alone would save thousands of petro-dollars and improve the fiscal  deficit. While at the same time creating millions of jobs in the service and allied industries of the Solar market. While the above thoughts look at the Indian grass-roots, the middle class too can benefit and its mental outlook can be changed with Green Business Innovation : Offices can now print on a E-paper and save forest.;Green Business Ideas: Carbon Credits opportunities in Green Townships.But these too, need the support form the UNFCCC and the Banks which traditionally look at large caps and easy return; which lead to the fraud in the first place.

While the present Mumbai city many not have enough roof-space to generate its own electricity, by making laws for future re-developments and up-coming townships (Green Business Ideas: the missing LEED/GRIHA credits can help boost economy worldwide.) a great amount of job creation and by that default wealth can be generated. The crisis of energy can be tackled and that should be the goal.

Within a span of 10 years, should Sustainable building methods become norm, the government can further cut its fiscal deficit by increasing the energy tariff to what it should be, while encouraging CDM benefits for the common person. The concept is addressed somewhat in Green Business Ideas – Applying Solar OPEX model on Green Buildings will make Grid parity easy.

 The government in its first avatar of UPA-I started well in the path towards sustainability; but partisan politics and myopic views of both the political and corporate masters have not helped in boosting the concept which it came out with (Green Business Ideas : India should promote NSM & NMSH to make NMEEE a success)What it must do is lend its ear to the citizens, who always care for good governance and will stand as a solid wall of support if the benefits from CDM flows directly towards them, instead of becoming another profit-making tool for the unscrupulous corporate entities.

 

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