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Tag Archives: Kyoto Protocol

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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Climate 2014 – and Hell Froze over !


There is a point in life where almost all of us have tried our hand on painting a picture. Be it in school or a fair ground. And still life is one of the most enduring subject which every aspiring artist wants to capture and every great master has perfected.

But all pale by comparison when the Grand Master, mother Nature herself creates a still life…. it surpasses everything man can ever hope to achieve.

The Telegraph picture has been able to capture the beauty of this rare phenomenon. But what it has not been able to capture is the powerful message it sends across…Nature if she choose to, can make any life come to a stand still…forever.

And that is the take away from this for the Climate Change skeptics and the politicians and businessmen who are doing Real Politick in Davos once again ! Be it by omission or presence, the world business suddenly is not finding climate change a hot enough subject to discuss anymore.

Global warming !! When Hell itself is freezing over ?

 Hell frozen over as US big freeze shatters temperature records –In one small town in Michigan the snow was so deep a snow plough got stuck. What makes it noteworthy is that the place is named Hell. The 600 residents had to endure temperatures of minus 20 degrees. Forecasters predict an improvement but at the moment it’s so bad that Hell has literally frozen over.

Surely this has nothing to do with Global Warming, one could argue. And to be fair one can not attribute such conditions as affects of Global Warming with complete certainty….yet!

But if one reads the AR-5 report of the IPCC  it would seem that the computation that have been done on Climate Models have been fairly accurate. And evidence is slowly pointing towards the rampant destruction of the environment with our high carbon life-style as one of the primary reason for the discomfort we are facing with much more regularity than ever before.

And to prove that the phenomena is not restricted one must look at what is happening on the other side of the Atlantic….

First floods, then the snow: Warning as big freeze set to add to rain woe

As heavy rain continued to batter parts of Britain, forecasters said temperatures could plummet as low as -2C (28.4F). The midlands and the north are set to be the worst hit on Sunday and the cold snap could carry on into next week.‘There may be ice, with a chance of snow, particularly in the north of England and Scotland,’ the Met Office told Metro. There are fears that excess rainwater, which is still draining into rivers, will combine with further wet weather to ‘top up’ flood waters. Dozens of homes have been evacuated in Oxford amid further downpours. In nearby South Hinksey, water 1.2m (4ft) deep gushed into at least six homes. Resident Chris Jankiewicz has been trying to protect his property with sandbags. ‘The water is up to my thighs in places. The best way to get around is in a big pair of waders – or a canoe,’ the 45-year-old said. ‘I’ve lived here about 20 years and this is the worst I’ve seen it.’

….and beyond !

City saw Three Seasons in last Six days – Friday 25 Jan Times of India.

Mumbai: Within a span of six days, weather in the city has spanned three seasons. On January 18, Mumbai witnessed the coldest day of the season as temperature dipped to 13.2 degrees C followed by a round of showers on January 21, but simultaneously, temperature rose by 3-4 degrees over the normal average prompting people to shrug off their woolens. “By January 19-20, a trough developed over Arabian Sea causing clouding and rain on January 21.Mumbai,Dahanu and parts of Maharashtra received light showers, while Gujarat saw widespread rain. By then minimum and maximum temperatures had increased by 3-4 degrees,” said K S Hosalikar, deputy director general,IMD,Mumbai. He said the rise in temperatures has halted and a small reversal had occurred. “The temperature has reduced to 2 degrees above normal, and will remain within the normal value over the next few days. There is no likelihood of rain in the immediate future.” On Friday, minimum temperature in Santa Cruz and Colaba was around 19.8 and 21 degrees C respectively, even as the maximum touched30degreesCin Colaba.

AR1Climate Change is a natural process. Anthropogenic Global Warming is not. By accelerating the process which is a complex mix of Air, Water, Land, and the various features inherent in these is extremely dangerous. And the most worrying part is even if we do come to know how the system functions, which has achieved a perfect balance so as to sustain life-form over many millennia. Do we really have the understanding to fix it before it is too late?

To understand the gravity of the situation readers must understand the complexity of Earth and how it functions. This can be understood by Climate modeling which started in the mid 1970’s and had a very basic understanding and computational facilities to predict the anthropogenic effects on Climate Change.

AR2But as technology developed, so did the understanding and capacity of the scientists to add more aspects into the model.

This gave us some understanding of how the earth reacts with the elements. Climate modelling also led us to understand and appreciate that just as in life, in nature too there is no clear black and white. Thing are always a subset of another while retaining a distinct character at the same time. For example if we have a hot day, there would be higher water evaporation, which leads to more cloud formation. Clouds in turn blocks the sun and thus brings down the temperature which in turns reduces evaporation which in turn reduces formation of clouds.

AR3From understanding how clouds and rainfall reacts to warming in time we started to understand the role of the ocean in a little more depth, but much is still unknown.

By the Fourth Assessment Report or AR4 it was understood that the chemical reactions that are taking place due to emissions of human induced (anthropogenic)  warming caused by pollutants which are reacting with the natural process to throw up an altogether different variable. While much more needs to be understood and studied, the recent AR5  is out and is giving us much more answers with greater certainty than before.

Still much more work needs to be done until we can accurately predict the changes which are taking place, well in advance so AR4as to steer the World into proper mitigation and adaptation actions.

But to compute the total earth using all the variables require more than the few Peta-flops of computing we presently are able to achieve. And the most complex factor is of human actions in terms of mitigation and adaptations which have been taking place since the warnings have been put in place and running parallel to the pollution which we are creating.

What would be the sum total between the rate of pollution which no doubt is higher than the mitigation actions ? Can we accurately predict our daily weather conditions? Or we shall have to be ever on our toes to face the challenges of freak weather, as is evident from Thypoon Hyan to the great Freeze that has gripped the USA ?

While that is a debate we all need to get involved. Why it should be so must be pondered from the facts which is presenting itself. Which on a closer look would show that it is an economic disaster slowly unfolding and compounding the already fragile health of the World Economy !

Jan 26 (Reuters) – A shortage of propane heating fuel during a brutal U.S. cold snap this month threatens to sharpen the year’s most urgent energy policy debate – how much of its newfound shale oil and gas bounty should America export? …..U.S. propane production has grown in recent years thanks to the shale oil and gas boom, but the resulting higher supplies have caused domestic prices to sink below global levels. That in turn, has encouraged exports of the fuel from the U.S. Gulf Coast to Japan and Latin America, where prices are higher.The shortage in the Midwest comes at a confluence of events: namely, record-breaking cold at the start of January, when stocks were already low after large amounts of propane were used to dry out a bumper corn harvest.A pipeline outage during most of December exacerbated the situation, and this week’s freezing weather, expected to last to the end of the month, has heightened the situation. All the while prices have soared.

Unrelenting Winter Weather Sends U.S. Into Deep Freeze – ….Sheets of ice on bridges and overpasses made for a treacherous commute Friday morning in San Antonio and Houston, Tex. and as far east as Lake Charles, La., The Weather Channel reports. Ice and some snow are expected to build up in some areas, though authorities don’t anticipate extensive power outages.

Bad weather events almost always brings to stand-still the high-carbon modern life-style we all live. It not only impacts ones daily life but also has an inherent sociopolitical threat at a Global scale. If one reads the two news items above, it is apparent that energy security which is always a flashpoint in World affairs is directly affected. Should the spell of extreme weather events continue with more and more severity which is what the IPCC AR5 predicts as very much likely, world peace would be under tremendous strain.

For the common man it is not easy to understand that his/her difficulty to commute or warm his home or feed himself and family, if prolonged can lead to War ! But that is the reality of Climate Change. And that is why it of utmost importance that each and every individual and organization wise up to the facts of impacts of Global Warming!

If we don’t we may have to pay Hell….as the Americans say!

 

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It’s time for the USA to be the World Leader again.. or is it ?


At the recent GreenBIz Forum 2013 in New York, there was an informative and energetic panel discussion, “The Power of Wall Street in Promoting Sustainability,” with Erika Karp, head of UBS Global Research and Matt Arnold, head of environmental affairs at JP Morgan Chase.

He gave the example of Novelis, which is looking for ways to make aluminium cans without mining bauxite. CEO Phil Martens has pledged that by 2020 the cans Novelis sells will be manufactured with 80 percent of the aluminium coming from recycled cans. They call it the EverCan. “[T]hey are disrupting not just their company, but their entire industry,” Arnold said. “And their sustainability strategy … is their business strategy.”

The new mantra of sustainability is becoming “disrupt or be disrupted,” and there are many examples of disruptive sustainability emerging in today’s economy.

When a house can be heated and cooled to the same level of comfort using only 5 percent of the energy of a conventional home of comparable size — that’s disruptive sustainability.

When a high performance zero-emissions automobile can be driven from New York to Boston, with a half-hour pit stop for refueling — and the fuel is free — that’s disruptive sustainability.

When the relationship between a utility and its customers is fundamentally redefined by changing roles — customer as generator and seller of clean energy and utility as buyer and distributor — that’s disruptive sustainability.

When a company that uses garbage as the source for making 300 million pounds a year of high-grade plastics that satisfy the most exacting customer requirements — that’s disruptive sustainability.

When a small home-cleaning supplies start-up can capture ever-growing market share from industry giants because its products don’t leave a thin film of toxins on kitchen and bathroom surfaces and actually clean them better — that’s disruptive sustainability.

When new financing models take the capital and operating expenses out of the cost of clean energy and provide electricity at competitive rates that are fixed for 10 years — that’s disruptive sustainability.

When a 100 percent recyclable industrial carpet, designed using a rainforest floor as inspiration, becomes the best-selling product in the company’s history and redefines an industry — that’s disruptive sustainability.

When a major real estate developer announces the construction of the largest net-zero-energy commercial building in the United States, and finds it fully leased two years before it even opens — that’s disruptive sustainability.

When a five-year-old hospitality company helps property owners increase their asset utilization through sharing and renting among peers, and brings in hundreds of millions of dollars in annual revenues without building, owning, leasing or managing a single property — that’s disruptive sustainability.

And when Michael Porter replaces his Five Forces framework with Creating Shared Value — maybe that, too, is disruptive sustainability.

“My plan will continue to reduce the carbon pollution that is heating our planet, because climate change is not a hoax. More droughts and floods and wildfires are not a joke.” – Obama at the Democratic National Convention, Sept. 6, 2012.

“I urge this Congress to pursue a bipartisan, market-based solution to climate change. … But if Congress won’t act soon to protect future generations, I will. I will direct my Cabinet to come up with executive actions we can take, now and in the future, to reduce pollution, prepare our communities for the consequences of climate change, and speed the transition to more sustainable sources of energy.” – Obama in his State of the Union speech, Feb. 12, 2013.

While the USA may not want to sign the Kyoto Protocol, it was always understood that the Country would move towards sustainable practice at its own pace. Although the reason of it is complex; some of the reasons are not that difficult to discern.

For one, it needed its corporates to adjust to the new reality and find it profitable to do so. The GreenBiz Forum  talk of “Disruptive Sustainability”is just the beginning of the hype which will increase day by day until, the rest of the World especially the least developed and underdeveloped Nations are shamed for not following the American example of saving the planet from Climate change.

So what if they call sustainability – disruptive!

And the proof of it follows the Obama’s State of the Union speech, with the report below –

A report  in guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 1 May 2013 20.14 BST by , US environment correspondent –

General Motors called on Barack Obama and Congress to work together on climate change on Wednesday, saying the effort would be good for business. GM, which makes the plug-in Chevy Volt, was the first of the big three car makers to sign on to a new push from the business world for greater action on global warming from Washington, the Climate Declaration.

“We want to be a change agent in the auto industry,” Mike Robinson, GM vice-president of sustainability and global regulatory affairs, said in a statement.

The declaration, now endorsed by 40 companies, was launched in Washington last month with the aim of capitalising on public concern about climate change after Hurricane Sandy and Obama’s re-election in the hope of pushing a climate law through Congress. More than half of Americans now blame climate change for the extreme weather of recent years, according to a study released on Wednesday by the Yale Project on Climate Change.

The short statement, endorsed by GM, leads off: “Tacking climate change is America’s greatest economic opportunity of the 21st century (and it’s simply the right thing to do).”

In the above short statement lies the opportunity and danger for the USA and the World !

Let’s not forget the story of The Three Little Pigs – a wolf in sheep’s clothing must be dealt with care.

The classic example is of General motors. A company which is the past has overtly or covertly killed many a invention towards sustainable transport –

The General Motors streetcar conspiracy (also known as the Great American streetcar scandal) refers to allegations and convictions in relation to a program by General Motors (GM) and other companies who purchased and then dismantled streetcar and electric train systems in many American cities.

While it may be argued that times have changed, and the management ( made of humans – who have the right to err ! ) of today is more informed and wants to undo the wrongs of its predecessors.

But when one reads through the news article further, utopia evaporates !

…It does not prescribe specific solutions beyond a “coordinated effort”, but said that promoting clean energy and reducing greenhouse gas emissions would help America remain a superpower.

…The effort was guided by Ceres, the sustainable business network, which argued that declarations of support from the business world could give members of Congress the cover they needed to engage on a topic widely seen as a third rail in politics. Obama began his second term pledging action on climate change. But Congress was unmoved by his appeal in his state of the union address to work on a law that would cut the greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change.

A majority of Republicans oppose action on climate change, or discount the science behind climate change.

Aside from GM, the effort was endorsed by household names such as Starbucks, Intel, and eBay, as well as a number of outdoor clothing manufacturers.

Before signing on to the Climate Declaration, GM had been pressing the Obama administration to adopt a national energy policy, promoting natural gas and renewable.

…The announcement caps a steady transformation of GM’s market strategy.

A company which once produced gas-guzzling trucks and SUVs and fought higher fuel economy standards was now identifying with the green technology behind a car like the Volt.

One must remember that the Corporate giants have the most short-sighted vision in the world, next only to the Political giants. And as all know, giants are by default carnivores and man-eaters.

The earth trembles with every step they take, uprooting trees and trampling the flora and fauna as they chase the human they want for dinner ! Just read your child’s bed-time story. It just proves that our ancestors knew what giants do. The modern word for giants is Conglomerate ! Some of them are as hostile as the giants in our children story books. Trampling the Earth and gobbling up resources.

Sustainability for the Corporates, World-wide is nothing more than another business opportunity, which they were unwilling to look at till there was enough traction to make it worth their while. Now, that it is proving to be profitable they will plunge into it wholeheartedly. But for all the wrong reasons, I’ve pointed out in amber in the paragraphs above.

Sustainability would be the worst causality if we look at it as another tool for Political up-man-ship or hegemony. It is important that the mindset of those who are powerful become humble. For without humility, the same standards of capitalist market laws would be applied to make the World “greener & safer”. And that would be a disaster.

Why does the USA need to be a super-power or its politicians need sustainable practice as a weapon. Why can’t it be made as a way of life and projected so? Why could GM not say – “Tacking climate change is America’s greatest RESPONSIBILITY of the 21st century (and it’s simply the right thing to do).” What USA does the World fortunately or unfortunately does follow. To be a leader one must think as well as act as one.

If we continue using the old yard-stick to measure the new, we will come up short.

And we don’t have the luxury of time to know that we were wrong.

 

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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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Kyoto to Doha: Why Climate abatement talks always fail !


Through this article, we would try to find why we are failing again and again at Climate Change Negotiation for the past 20 years, my comment on the EU and the USA, no way includes the stellar work done by peers and compatriots; of those who are the true crusaders of Climate change abatement. But perhaps this could be used as an introspection on what we as a Human Civilization have become World over. We shall also try to explore how we can find a way forward form a fresh perspective.

Last November news on the Telegraph readAmerica will produce more oil than Saudi Arabia by 2020 and become a net exporter a decade later, according to the International Energy Agency.

As a child, I used to hear my father say. “USA would one day be the largest producer of Oil”. He foretold. His argument was that the USA is conserving its oil while depleting the stock of the Middle East. By becoming the largest consumer of almost everything it would by the laws of market forces rule over the World. ‘There is no need for conquest by force, when one can have agents of greed agree to rape and plunder there National wealth to fill their coffers with Dollars and in a way be an extension of the US way of life‘;he had added.

So while the World filled their Banks with “Bonds” and “Dollars” made of Paper, the US kept the Gold and Silver at Fort Knox and the rich petroleum below.

Thus the USA became a consumerist society and was taught to waste. A well designed social system was put in place, where the people from Cinema and other entertainment were made into “diva” and “Greek god”. Their life-style became fashion statement. With limited intellect and skills beyond looking bodily beautiful, earning huge sums of money for contributing nothing of substance to the well-being of the planet, a whole industry thriving on Narcissism started to become norm for the western World and slowly percolated to the Orient too.

The World society as a whole moved from seeking essential goods and commodities to “must have”. It became an obsession to have a Second – Home, Car, Watch or Pen. So much so that today we have a jingle to a software launch which says – I want to be everything at once. Consistency and common-sense be dammed !

So much so that there are more fruits in a rich man’s shampoo than in the plate of the malnourished. Something the UN on their regular sojourn around the World to eradicate hunger and depletion of forest must ponder upon.

Today the life-style of the West is so pervasive that young impressionable minds believed around the World, with great help from a frenzied media that

  • eating just one bite from a plate-full of food and throwing away the rest was fashionable. It showed that you are not greedy ( anybody who thought that it was a sensible thing to finish the plate was ridiculed to death ).
  • wearing a haute couture dress twice became morally wrong and punishable. Now a woman of substance can’t even wear shoe, hat or a simple glove twice. And if two girls wear the same it is considered a disaster.
  • from food, clothes,bag, boxes, jewellery it percolated down to use and throw pens, watches, camera and what not.
  • Skin and hair must stay as young and supple as that of a new-born. Although I can show the world people with better hair, skin and physical shape working in the paddy fields across India. And yes, 10 times more beautiful than the faces on fashion magazine, without using a single product the big business houses launch.

Waste is bliss. For the corporate whose business Empire grow make sure that someone who can represent their ideas rule the roost in popular media and politics. It is amazing to see how almost every Nation believes that to be hip and happening, one needs to eject ingenious habits and ape that of popular west.

How then can the West suddenly convince their populace to adapt and adopt life-style which requires a low GHG consumption ?

Are the very negotiators not conditioned in life-style diagrammatically opposing to what they need to ratify ? Civilization has always been built on the Ego of Man. Empire and Emperors shaped the destiny of people based on what they perceived as true.

Therefore the interlocutors we need on behalf of the West should be chosen from the likes of CAN International. World Resources, Climate Co Lab of MIT, OXFAM  IUCN, Greenpeace and similar. Else the World as the LDC’s, ALBA’s and Small Island Nations know would not be there soon for them to live upon.

I would like all to pause as the above statement and reflect – Who are the greatest losers of Climate Change? Those which are either too poor to abate or adapt to the severe changes Global warming may bring about. As for the larger Nations, they are comforted by the fact that they can take the proverbial  hit on the chin and still stand its ground.

The psychology is attuned since the Cold War era to believe that, their disaster response system in case of an all out Nuclear War is already there. Surely Climate change would not be that sudden and thus with ample response time they would always be able to save the important plants and animals.

The Super powers by default of who they are; are conditioned to rationalize the words like – Collateral damages; Expendables; Minimizing the percentage of loss; etcetera. Thus, not much ice has been cut in the last 20 years of talks.

And so much so that, on the flip side the Super Storm Sandy has actually help reinforce the “invincibility” factor in the minds of some. ‘Look, our advanced technology and warning system could predict the storm much before it hit us’. Some would argue. ‘And with the superlative discipline and wherewithal in place damage to life and limb was minimum’. Will be the following consolation.

And somewhere, the fat corporate giant would send in their lobbyist to block plans to rationalize the climate talks. After-all there is so much to build back after a disaster. What an opportunity.

And hell no. Not one such business house would want a loss of life (Human only). Each human is always a potential buyer of goods after all. It’s bad for business. But, such things happen. Too bad, life must go on. And that is what the departed would have wanted, they would argue and with much empathy slip the latest house design in the hands of the living, while the insurance guy stands in the queue with the most friendly smile.

One’s emotional response to a situation is conditioned according to the life s/he has lived. Nations are built by people.

It is really funny, if one pauses to think that a religious argument is being forwarded to straighten a business wrong. So to change the mindset of those Nations or groups who do not consider that it is their moral responsibility to shoulder the burden of Climate change. The LDC, BASIC and the ALBA along with the Small Island Nations, speak in the language the EU and the USA government understand. The language of Business.

So while it is difficult to get commitment into the GEF, surely it would not be difficult for the Parliaments of the Nations most vulnerable to Climate change, pass laws of taxing those who would want to conduct business with them. A Cess perhaps ? For that, corruption has to end. But faced with the potential of having their feet wet  or throat parched by and for water; Peoples behaviour can change.

And change in the thinking and mindset of people must happen soon. We can not afford to keep on extending the deadline until the grand-child of Suzuki repeats the speech spoken 21 years ago in yet another UNFCCC meet.

 

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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