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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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Gas Hydrates – Will it be safe for India to harvest its alternate energy needs from the deep sea?


Structure of a gas hydrate (methane clathrate)...

Today’s News paper Headline read India gets closer to the Energy of the future.

Gas Hydrates -The gas hydrate are a crystalline solid, similar in appearance to ice, but consists of molecules of gas surrounded by a mesh of water molecules. Although they were discovered experimentally in 1811 by Sir Humphry Davy, it was later in 1970, that they were detected by geophysical methods in marine sediments from the Blake Outer Ridge Foundation (USA).

"Burning ice". Methane, released by ...Buried deep along India’s 7,500 km of coastline is a vast fuel reserve that can meet our needs for several centuries.These hydrates, which some believe could hold the world’s largest supply of carbon — roughly 4,200,000 trillion cubic feet of Methane in some of the fields discovered. According to Edith Allison, the USA’s DoE (department of energy) exploration program manager, replacing coal in power plants with methane extracted from gas hydrates could slash carbon dioxide emissions by up to 50%. The interesting thing is about these hydrates is that at great pressures and low temperatures in the oceans, they are very stable crystals. If mined and brought to atmospheric conditions they produce 160 times their volume of methane. And that is what is seducing energy hunters. Methane is a readily usable fuel.

Earlier Deep sea deposition of carbon dioxide clathrate has been proposed as a method to remove this greenhouse gas from the atmosphere and control climate change! Now we are thinking of extracting it for commercial use, as an alternate energy source.

However there are tremendous risks involved as methane is 21 – 23 times more potent a greenhouse gas than CO2; as per estimates made in the Storegga slide, Norway; a large underwater landslide may cause the output of about 5 gigatons of methane from the seabed to the atmosphere. Given the track record of all deep sea oil exploration, most recent being the BP Oil Spill we must devise foolproof systems and put them in place so that exploring the sea-bed would not cause a underwater landslide. Should that happen the consequences would be extremely detrimental in the efforts to mitigate Global Warming. This is because, although gas hydrates are stable, where they are; once disturbed can be—due to their great expansion ratio—very volatile.

Now, as India too  has joined other countries into research examining the energy potential of gas hydrates, or methane clathrates and it is surely an exciting matter to see our  scientists  form    National  Institute  of   Ocean   Technology      ( NIOT ) are one step away from quantifying and identifying the gas fields , one must bear in mind that  as Indian methane hydrate sediments are close to coastlines; they can be in layers that are 13 kilometres deep; mining for them can set off ‘landslides’ down there. For India, which has a sorry record of land based mining in various states, it is important that such dangerous activity must not be given out to private companies. Unmonitored mining could cause landslides, releasing methane into the atmosphere and accelerate global warming, with consequences that can only be horrific. Thus the potential of the “greenhouse effect” exploding to uncontrollable proportion must be studied in detail and its effective mitigation, prevention and disaster management methods must be debated in open scientific forum and consensus arrived . The total marine ecosystem is dependent on it.

English: Worldwide distribution of confirmed o...

In fact the UNFCCC must add this into their discussion agenda at Rio+20 and should it be the situation where the World leaders agree that gas hydrate extraction is the next alternate energy they all want to tap; a standard world-class regulation should be created for all to follow, under the watchful eyes of the UN. Perhaps an international watchdog body similar to the IAEA be mooted.

But before we go about mining the sea bed, an ecosystem most of us hardly understand, and could become more controversial than Nuclear. Should India not spend its effort and money on alternate energy which are easier to achieve especially  Solar, Wind, Geothermal, Bio-gas, Bio-fuel, Micro-Hydle and even Wave-energy whose potential are immense? And with India having a good Solar insloation and long coast line, Wind & Solar which are already gaining popularity must be made to run its full potential.

 
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Posted by on February 23, 2012 in My Thoughts

 

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