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SDG#13: Climate Action


India was the global host of 2018 World Environment Day which took place on June 5, 2018. There could be no other event more important for India than the World Environment Day. That the Nation should align as one and consider the Sustainable Development Goal #13 – Climate Action as its manifesto in the strongest possible manner than ever before. The reasons become obvious with the following articles and videos. In fact, the first news report from WION below was Published on 16 Nov 2017, It is almost as if Nostradamus not NASA who is predicting them. For the below-mentioned news just proves them 100% true and then some more.

That it has only 1691 views and 7 likes till date tells a story no environmentalist would want to know….The attempt therefore, once more is to ramp up support for Climate Action, through this article.

Climate Prediction:

Reuters: India is the most vulnerable country to climate change, followed by Pakistan, the Philippines and Bangladesh, a ranking by HSBC…… Of the four nations assessed by HSBC to be most vulnerable, India has said climate change could cut agricultural incomes, particularly unirrigated areas that would be hit hardest by rising temperatures and declines in rainfall. (read more)

Climate Re-Action:

 High-intensity dust storms uprooted trees and caused buildings to collapse across India’s northern states, resulting in multiple deaths across North Indian state of Rajasthan. .
Climate Prediction:
According to an HSBC report published in March 2018, India is amongst the most vulnerable nations to the effects of climate change. The highest risks related to climate change are concentrated among the low-income groups living in houses, which are especially vulnerable to wind and water hazards due to extreme weather events. Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai are especially prone to bear the brunt of climate change.
(courtesy:swarajyamag.com)

Climate Re-Action:

The above video is perhaps the best compilation of what India is facing. All at the same time. Extreme Heat Conditions in Kashmir, Floods in Karnataka and Drought in Madhya Pradesh.

But what is the actual story on the ground? According to the latest report filed by Nibu Pullamvilavil scribe with the Wire –

preliminary assessment by the Council on Energy, Environment and Water, IIT Gandhinagar and IIM Ahmedabad found in 2015 that India will have to invest Rs 24.3 lakh crore every year by 2030 to implement adaptation actions. The study noted that total government spending on capacity development in India has grown consistently over the last decade; Rs 6.2 lakh crore was spent in 2013 alone.

The National Adaptation Fund for Climate Change (NAFCC), established by the Government of India in 2015, aims to support concrete adaptation activities. As of today, 26 projects have been approved at a total cost of Rs 648.9 crore, and of which Rs 315.3 crore has been released. This is woefully inadequate given the size of our country and the challenges it faces. 

Urban India has been largely ignored vis-à-vis adaptation efforts. Climate resilience and risks associated with climate change have failed to find mention in ‘smart city’ proposals approved by the Centre. (read more in the Wire)

To make a City ready for adaptation and mitigation, it is very important that the general public are made to understand the dangers of climate change. This is woefully inadequate.

Post three years after the Prime Minister of the Nation has signed the Paris Agreement. We still don’t have all the states adopting the SDG’s as their agenda. If one peeks into the Niti Ayog website:

Niti

If you click on the above and go into the menu from the states, click say Maharashtra, it says that it has gathered reports in detail for goals 3-4-5-15. While the rest are awaited.

Once on the page, you would notice, only one from the Environmental Action Plan, Goal 15 has been touched. Goal # 13 which is Climate Action, the state of Maharashtra is yet to compile its detailed information. Let alone take action! In fact, it states that the action program on SDG # 13 would be done by 2020. This is because of the promised funding by developed countries of $100 Billion. But what happens if that promised money doesn’t come. Do we have a plan B? This is the state post signing the agreement in 2015. And the program has an end date of 2030.

Not only Urban areas have been ignored, the City of Mumbai with its 2034 Development Plan shows no real thought has been put with the SDG’s in mind but the standard fare of ‘Business as Usual’.

We all know that the recent Talona Dialogues held in Bonn in May was not a great success to indicate that the Developed countries are anywhere ready to owe to their historic responsibility by giving grants to fix the problems related to Climate Change.

If India is serious about climate change it would have been mentioned in the NAINA in clear words about its adherence to the SDG’s. But it only offers a vague lip service to the same.

It would be unfair to say that the officials and the top political masters are not interested or want to implement a sound policy which aligns to the urgent needs in a highly dangerous Climate Change situation.

But it is the lack of action at the grass root level, which doesn’t allow the common man on the street to grasp the meaning and the importance of Climate Action. This is what should be the plan B.

India can generate enough resources of its own to develop and plan truly smart cities and implement not only Climate Action but all the other goals from within its own means. But for that sound policy should not remain in paper. They should be openly debated in public and solutions found for logjams which plague it.

The biggest hindrance to Climate Action is that it in itself has no immediately perceivable Return on Investment for the Investor. This is the major reason for the lip service which most of its industry are doing, one such example is the Building & Construction Sector. It is a shame to see buildings being built and claimed to be Green Building Rated when all that is happening is a scam called pre-certification. Under Pre-Certification all the Builder-Developer needs is to sign an undertaking that his design & construction would be in accordance to the documents submitted. Once they receive the Certificate they become eligible by the green tribunal authorities to construct. If an independent verification is done by say the UN designated independent bodies. Almost all the top-rated buildings will fail barring a handful.

For a country which is grappling with corruption in every layer of the society, Climate Action is the least priority for the vast majority. Unless there is a peoples movement as it happened in Tuticorin – an industrial unit became a focal point to fight pollution. things will not change.

But such movements are neither good for the society nor for the country as it only creates havoc. Havoc not only because it has already damaged the Environment but also because it leaves a permanent scar in the society which has to deal with death and destruction.

Therefore the country should consider as Plan B;  a mandatory high-school to college level subject & examination on the effects of Climate Change. Thus when the next generation managers and industrialists take charge there is already a strong connect and understanding of the complex subject. And at the same time, it would enable those very people the to create a conducive architecture for a monetary benefit which is tangible for all.

 

 

 

 

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Air – The Fourth ( Deadly) Element


“Another glorious day, the air as delicious to the lungs as nectar to the tongue.”
John Muir, My First Summer in the Sierra

Flag of the World Meteorological Organization

Flag of the World Meteorological Organization (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The International Meteorological Organization (1873–1951) was the first organization formed with the purpose of exchanging weather information among the countries of the world. It was born from the realization that weather systems move across country boundaries and knowledge of pressure, temperature, precipitations, etc. upstream and downstream is needed for weather forecasting.

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations. It is the UN system’s authoritative voice on the state and behavior of the Earth’s atmosphere, its interaction with the oceans, the climate it produces and the resulting distribution of water resources.

The WMO and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) jointly created the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). It is also directly responsible for the creation of the Global Atmosphere Watch (GAW).

Now that we have established that talking about weather is not UN-fashionable but elitist ! We are still a long way of from being as élite as our ancestors who helped define and set up such an organization.

Could it be perhaps because they were a few generations closer to John Muir than the present batch ? After-all one seriously can’t feel the taste of nectar, with the polluted air being circulated through a treated fresh air or  TFA system.  And would perhaps relate 23rd March as Chaka Khans birthday. Rather than celebrate the weather. (World Meteorological Day). Although she too would find it hard to breath through the smoke of annual forest fire, to sign her famous song!

Air….the element of Nature can be equally deadly as the other four !

It is air without which a single breath of life can’t be possible.

For it is air, which moves the clouds and creates the weather patterns…. a suitable weather (atmosphere) sustains life.

Monsoon Forecast Remains Under a Cloud

Aug 21 2014 : The Economic Times (Mumbai) by Madhvi Sally.

Erratic monsoon triggers reassessment of new `normal’, which could have significant implications for water management, food production & prices.The monsoon has become so erratic over the years that the weather office is reassessing what the `normal’ would be for the vital weather system, an exercise that has sweeping implications for water management, food production and prices, apart from the historic nature of such an endeavor. Over the past decades, India’s agricultural practices have been tied to the June-September monsoon and the rainfall pattern during the four-month season. Any review of the `normal’ would thus have a direct impact on the food security of 1.25 billion people.

Meteorologists say such a reassessment may be warranted. In the last six decades, the number of rainy days in the season has been falling, deserts are getting shockingly heavy rain, extreme rainfall incidents such as the one that devastated Mumbai in 2005 are rising, and monsoon showers have continued a month after the normal withdrawal date for the past 7-8 years.

Experts say the trend can upset crop cycles, create water shortages in some regions and force farmers and policy makers to think of productivity in terms of output per unit of water, not per acre as the monsoon is getting weaker and more erratic. (read more)

Lapse in rainfall across highly productive north will have impact on farm output, prices There has been no rain at all in Haryana, Punjab and W Rajasthan for the past couple of days

The monsoon has almost vanished from the grain bowls of northern, western and central India, where some regions received no rainfall in recent days while many got barely 2-10% of normal, reviving risk to farm output and prices. Rainfall had revived significantly in the middle of last month, bouncing back from an alarming 43% seasonal deficit to barely 16% after a few weeks of heavy showers. But with rainfall dipping in the past two weeks, deficit has again widened again to 18% for the entire country. It is much higher in crucial cropping zones in northern and central India but the country’s average looks better because of heavy rain in parts of south and northeast, which are agriculturally less significant. In Punjab and Haryana, shortfall is more than 60%, having an impact on productivity even though these regions have irrigation facilities. Some states have received no rainfall in the past few days.(Read more)

That the topic was carried in the prestigious Economic Times in itself underscores the importance of the subject. But as the main article is carried on page # 17 instead of with the banner in the front page also underscores that the deadly impact of food crisis is not understood by those with a full belly !

And this very complacency gives credence to the those who discount evidence of Climate Change, and perhaps having  their coffers being filled by the producers of GM – Crops for the effort !

Advocates of  GM Crops ( Genetically Modified ) Companies, do not seem to understand why there is resistance to their seemingly Messianic  quest to be able to produce more food. Perhaps better crop than what we have through natural selection.

The point is not the GM Crops, but Nature has a law – survival of the fittest ! Thus when over time the GM crops would completely destroy every naturally grown crop.

Then Man, who essentially is a wolf in sheep’s clothing ! Would without lifting a single finger in act of war subjugate Countries! While citizens in a Democracy are also slaves, even without actually knowing it; this fact  has not really affected Nature.

But when the very Natural System would come under threat from the insatiable greed of Man, who would as evidence has always proved ( Palm Oil production ) denude the last of the natural ecosystem, for want of profit !

The Natural Disasters would exacerbate !

So having understood what can be the situation, should we not try and abate Climate Change, which has a direct bearing on the way the water  and air currents would behave in the future ? Any change in the way the air moves, as proven above has a direct bearing on rainfall.

Just as Water so is Air. ….. a principle life giver !

Thus a deadly element.

 

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World Environment Day – the don’t practice but preach day!


AHow many times does it happen to almost all of us that we listen to a captivating lecture or a documentary or even a film and connect to it completely ? While walking out of the hall, you almost bond with complete strangers and some have animated discussions on the subject while reaching the exit gate, exchange contact details and as the vehicle you sit in moves, start the process of completely forgetting about the episode and focus on the day ahead ?

This is what happens to all of us especially those who have taken upon themselves to do public good….that is become a Politician. Everyday most of them think how they can do some good for the public, especially in India. And the World Environment Day is no different.

One can not fault any person and especially those who have taken upon themselves to do public good be focused in doing good in one sector alone. They need to focus in all areas lest they be seen as partial. Therefore in a prelude to the Environment Day our thoughtful leaders did think of doing some more good. And as an observer of the good our leaders bestow upon ourselves,this article would try and record them with a perspective.

CMumbai, is a city which is situated in the western coast of India, and very close to the famed Western Ghats, which the UN incidentally has declared as a very fragile and varied ecosystem which needs to be protected. And our thought full leaders both at the Centre & State who’s heart beats for the äam aadmi,(common man)  always eager to eliminate poverty, can not but come up with gem of ideas to improve the lot of the people, even at the cost of throwing away all the recommendations which the Ministry of Environment and Forest ( MoEF ) may have put.

It was mooted sometime ago that the city of Mumbai must become World class and some even wanted it to be better in comparison to Shanghai in China. As to why a city from China was chosen as an example instead of EIU’s 1st ranked Melbourne Australia, which is still considered to be the top most when we rank it in the liveability index simply beats me.

DThe Economist Intelligence Unit Liveability Survey liveability index rates each city on a scale of 0-100 based on 30 indicators, grouped in five categories.  Weights ranging from 10 to 25 percent are assigned to each category to determine the overall rating.  The EIU’s categories, weights and indicators are as follows:

  • Category 1: Stability (25%) (prevalence of petty and violent crime; threat of terror, military conflict and civil unrest/conflict)
  • Category 2: Healthcare (20%) (availability and quality of private and public healthcare; OTC drug availability; general health indicators adapted from the World Bank)
  • Category 3: Culture & Environment (25%) (climate; corruption; social/religious restrictions; censorship; sports/culture availability; food and drink; consumer goods and services)
  • Category 4: Education (10%) (availability and quality of private education; public education indicators adapted from the World Bank)
  • Category 5: Infrastructure (20%) (quality of road network, public transport and international links; availability of good quality housing; quality of energy and water provision; quality of telecommunications)

The overall Liveability Index 2012 is an integration of categories such as demographic, education, health and medical standards, safety, housing option, socio-cultural-natural environment, economic environment, and planned environment. It identifies those areas where progress is being made or maintained and areas where we need to be vigilant and allocate resources in order enhance its prosperity levels. In addition, it has taken a holistic approach in order to gauge the status of liveable cities in India by taking into consideration both, urban and rural factors. A city is termed as liveable if it provides a favourable living environment to its residents and indirectly benefits the people who visit it. The favourable environment comprises of various measurable factors such as, presence of quality education and health institutions, planned environment, appropriate infrastructure, safety of the people, strong administration etc. It has to do with answering questions like ‘can I live here happily with my family’? This goes beyond quality of life which is merely a single construct and a part of liveability. Similarly, for corporates who require well-connected roads, regular supply of power, skilled employees etc. for their business processes.

While none of our cities figure in the World top ten, by comparing our cites internally….

Liveability Index 2012

Highlights

  • New Delhi losses out by scoring high on the crime parameter.
  • Chennai grabs the numero uno position by beating Delhi, which was stable with its 1st rank for the last two years
  • Hyderabad is spotted at 2nd position and gained two positions
  • Other two top metros, Mumbai and Kolkata slide down from their previous ranks and are placed at 3rd and 7th position respectively
  • Kolkata arises as the city with the best supporting infrastructure in terms of residence, drinking water, source of lighting etc.
  • Major positive as well negative shifts are noted in the ranks of few cities such as Vijayawada, Gurgaon, Kozhikode, Varanasi, Ludhiana, and Puducherry etc.
  • The index provides insight into the quality of life available to people and provides evidence on the future state of the city in terms of its liveability.

South Indian cities dominate the top ten cities slot as Nagpur, Pune, Nashik, Madurai and Bengaluru exhibited a lot of improvement and have significantly risen from their previous low ranks. (more).

EWhile New Delhi could be considered as the King of Indian cities,where I schooled from and Mumbai the Queen where I found my livelihood, seeing the lopsided development which has no direction makes one wonder as had it not been for the people of this city and some very concerned and able people especially those who are connected to the Advanced Locality Management created by Mr. Verien Merchant in 1996 and supported by many around the city. This beautiful city would have sunk.The ALM Warriors (read more) as they are called are the need of the hour and not only in saving this city from filth but also in the process save the environment from degrading further.

The onslaught on Mumbai by vested interest is ceaseless. Plans to usurp an open space (The Royal turf club)  in guise of developing it into an world class park for the public is nothing but a sham. Because, it is but obvious that there would be some commercial activities planned around it which would be controlled and captured by those who are in power. One needs to look into the history of encroachment and the Builder-Mafia-Politician nexus to believe otherwise.

FNo urban planning is Eco-friendly because we have the unflinching ability to pour concrete in every square-foot of open space we get in our hands in the name of development. Preservation of eco-system which has been undisturbed for the last hundred year since the development of the city as important as preserving the lively hood of more than many poor labourers who maintain the said open space presently. While none can be against a proper approach to development; evidence show that the administration can not be trusted to safe-guard what belongs to the Planet first, its people later and to the rulers never!   An open green patch of land!

Read The Green Roots of Turkey’s Urban Unrest.- The street protests that spread from Istanbul to some 60 cities around Turkey in recent days have focused on a broad range of grievances, particularly what some see as the unresponsive nature of the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. But the initial spark was a government plan to uproot hundreds of trees and turn a park abutting Istanbul’s Taksim Square (interactive panoramic view) into a shopping mall.

The most important factor is that open spaces allow percolation of water & growth of trees which provides us with the much needed oxygen and controls the much dreaded carbon. And without ground water & air their can not be life.

The tragedy is we have set goals such as Environment Day, Earth Hour which starts and stops within the 24 hours of its arrival for most. And for our administrators it is but just a notation in their day planner, wherein a short half-hour or half-day function suffices with a meaningless gesture amongst equally hollow sound of applause.G

But that applause would soon be met with a deafening silence. As the elixir of life – Water ! becomes more dearer by the day due to the short sighted polices of those who are meant to govern.

One must pause to understand that civilization rose to its pinnacle on the fundamentals of  FOOD – CLOTHING – SHELTER. That is the basis of modern economics. In  Hindi we say – Roti (food); Kapada (cloth) aur (and) Maakan (shelter)

{Roti denotes sustenance without which life is impossible; Kapada denotes clothing but also captures the essence of the service and manufacturing industry while Maakan takes care of the infrastructure sector}

But human greed wants to mirror this datum into SHELTER – CLOTHING – FOOD.

Somewhere in the development of modern humans the mental make-up took a turn for the worse where developmental agenda started focusing less on sustenance and sustainable practices and more on self aggrandizement. The hoarding of riches outstripped the need to preserve wealth.

Environment is about sustainability and the planet we call Earth became sustainable to support life in a long-drawn continuous process. The next time we should declare the beginning of the Earth & Environment Year ! And follow it through till each city-town-village of our Country and the World can safely vouch that the day of a better Environment has begun.


 

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Green Business Ideas – Innovations that can make a difference


A new partnership launched on 19 February 2013 by four UN agencies aims to support 30 countries over the next seven years in building national green economy strategies that will generate new jobs and skills, promote clean technologies, and reduce environmental risks and poverty.The four UN agencies – the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the International Labour Organization (ILO), the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) – will provide a comprehensive suite of green economy services that will enable countries to transform their national economic structures to meet the growing demands and challenges of the 21st century. – (read more).

The Indian Budget for year 2013-14 was presented to the Parliament. With Fiscal deficit seen at 4.8 point of GDP in 2013/14; Gross market borrowing seen at 6.29 trillion rupees in 2013/14 and major subsidies bill estimated at 2.48 trillion rupees from 1.82 trillion rupees of which Petroleum subsidy is seen at 650 billion rupees in 2013/14 – Innovation is the need of the day.

Quoting the finance Minister – Growth is a necessary condition and we must unhesitatingly embrace growth as the highest goal. It is growth that will lead to inclusive development, without growth there will be neither development nor inclusiveness. However, I may sound a note of caution. Owing to the plurality and diversity of India, and centuries of neglect, discrimination and deprivation, many sections of the people will be left behind if we do not pay special attention to them. As Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel prize-winning economist, said, “There is a compelling moral case for equity; but it is also necessary if there is to be sustained growth. A country’s most important resource is its people.” We have examples of States growing at a fast rate, but leaving behind women, the scheduled castes, the scheduled tribes, the minorities, and some backward classes. The UPA does not accept that model. The UPA Government believes in inclusive development, with emphasis on improving human development indicators. I hope this Budget will be yet another testimony to that commitment. (Read full text)

While TV news channels, were filled with experts talking about the pro and cons. Not once did I hear and it may be my failing; any one mention about the National Action Plan for Climate Change Control. The Finance Minister briefly touched upon. And neither did anyone consider, Stiglitz – “compelling case of moral equity” – to be connected to the aspect of environment. Every budget talks of Sustained growth, NOT Sustainable growth.

While it would earn us some votes, when we say – ” a Country’s most important resources is its people” the real truth is – Every Countries most important resources are its Natural resources! And the ability of its people to use it sustainably.

As long as a Country is able to sustain its reserve of minerals, water, flora and fauna it shall be wealthy.  And this is the most important resource which the people of any country need to be called developed & a super-power.

However, any MBA with a background in Economics and Law would find this hard to understand, simply because they have been trained in a way where the datum to measure success is different. While this catastrophic error in the modus of learning and business conduct has been recognised and thus the Inclusive Wealth Report and the Stern Review; the percolation of the thought from mind to matter is yet to make the desired impact. As is clear from the 2013 Budget India presented.

If we combine the UN agenda as revealed in the opening paragraph to the brief mention the FM took, it is evident that –National Innovation Council; can and should stand up and be noticed. Both the agendas of UNIDO & UNITAR  can be addressed through it. While UNEP and ILO shall get a great boost.

It has the potential to be a game changer if participation to it becomes fashionable. Yes, it is an important marketing tool. Just as it is fashionable to be in the Social media, and thus its popularity, one must create the desire for the youth to be a member of the NIC. It must be made into a must have. The media should run a program which says ” have you given your idea for sustainability to NIC ? ” Are you one of the cool guys & gals who do?  ”  – Revolution can be created. The media has done it, it’s time it does so for the Country and the Planet.

And one does not have to be from the Science stream, to innovate. The Gujrat Chief Minister. Mr. Narendra Modi, was not explaining an invention, when he spoke at the India Today Enclave 2013 .But the ideas he gave of improving railways, or achieving sustainable urban /rural  development are innovations in itself. The magic of Mr. Modi is not his politics ( most Indian’s are indifferent to politics and politicians ) but his grass-root approach to problems affecting the people. His ideas can be implemented both by individuals and the governments. This is the most endearing mantra. The mantra many politicians may be having but due to their love of politics have not brought them to fore, to the public; and thus be recognised as a statesman.

Gujrat is perhaps the only one which understand the potential of innovation quicker, and it is something the Government at the Centre and other States must understand. The people of India are not in love with petty politics and are almost everyday innovating and giving ideas which matter; as is evident from the article by R.N. Bhaskar posted in the DNA News paper on 13th March 2013 –

India has plenty of sunshine. It has many people. Consequently, it has very little land per inhabitant (see table).
Any policy regarding solar power must, therefore, take into account the twin advantages of people and sunlight. And this is where India appears to have forgotten something important – rooftop solar. The Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission was right to harness solar power targeting a capacity of 20 GW by 2022. There have been significant successes as well: During the past five years solar tariffs have fallen from `19/kWh to `6.52/Kwh in the last round of reverse bidding in Andhra Pradesh. At this rate, solar power tariffs should reach grid parity before 2017.
But the Mission does little to harness the power of households. To understand this, consider India’s population of 1.2 billion. Assume five people to a household. That gives us 250 million households. To be conservative, let’s take just one-fifth this number, 50 million, as households with rooftops.
As Avinash Patkar, advisor, technology, Tata Power, explains, even a conservative figure of 200 square feet per rooftop (village rooftops can be significantly larger), with 100 watts of installed capacity per square metres, gives us a 2 kW system per rooftop. The 50 million households will thus have a combined capacity of 100,000 MW. That should give us an annual output of 1,600 kW/hour of installed capacity.
Critically important, this can be done without using up large tracts of land. Today, there is a growing suspicion that many solar farms have been put up because of the land factor.
Each household thus becomes both producer and consumer. The household consumes freely his own rooftop’s power but also earns when he sells surplus power to the grid. Since the distance between the solar panels and the households isn’t great, there will be huge savings in transmission (capital and recurring) costs. Once installed, maintenance costs are minimal. The savings would be massive for rural household electrification.
Some grumble about the capex involved. At around Rs 100/W, each rooftop would require investments of Rs 2 lakh. Collectively, the country would have to invest around $200 billion, or `10.84 lakh crore, (100/W x 2,000 W per household x 50 million households).
But large land tract solar producing are already spending that much. Moreover, considering the increased gas tariffs that the Rangarajan Committee is willing to pay to private gas producers this is a better way to create energy capacity. Finally, `2 lakh per household isn’t much, especially if it can be done on a public-private-partnership basis. Thus, India could save on energy import bills and have an environmentally friendly solution.
Some policymakers have begun to respect this concept. In November 2012, the Punjab government decided to make rooftop solar compulsory for all buildings, public or private, especially for houses constructed over an area of one kanal and above plots in the urban estate. It began to partly introduce what Germany did ten years ago, and revolutionised the solar power industry. But more on that next week.

The article & Mr. Modi vindicates what many were writing  and some of those thoughts are reflected in Green Building Ideas:Using Solar panels as roofing sheet instead of asbestos; Green Business Ideas – Applying Solar OPEX model on Green Buildings will make Grid parity easy;Green Business Ideas: Solar Net Metering can help provide solar power in the night. And many such thoughts are posted everyday. Yet we do not find any real movement from the government of India to implement the thoughts in the scale and urgency it warrants.

But, when inaction can happen, even on ideas given by the Chief Minister of a State; especially in the matter of sustainable development and renewable energy; the situation is dire indeed. Development can’t be hostage to partisan politics especially if it has a direct bearing on the well-being of the planet. Lets’ for once stop thinking for the well-being of Humanity – the singular cause of all the devastation – and focus on the development of the Eco-system. A guide for Dummies is already found – The Story of Stuff – on You Tube; by TIDES Foundation. But it is the second part which is more interesting, The Story of Change – which actually shows us how we can turn the tide in favour of sustainable development goals.

It is indeed sad, as said by Bittu Sahgal in the gripping speech he gave at the Delhi Sustainable Development Summit 2013 ( the video of which one can find in my blog under – Must watch) – we do not have enough anger to drive the change we require to save ourselves from Extinction.

Clay Cooker

If anger can’t save us and it won’t. Innovation and especially green innovation will. The only way forward today is to innovate a Green Business Idea every day and encourage the ideas which are already there, by bringing them into the main stream. If one visits the website of National Innovation Foundation, other than finding a pressure cooker made of Clay, featured here, one would also find some amazing products, which have yet to become main stream.

Natural Water Cooler

Perhaps with help of CIICESD and the likes we may see products like the Natural Water cooler, The Natural Water Cooler is a low cost, energy efficient, environment friendly water cooler that is based on the principle of heat exchange. It cools water naturally according to the external temperature and humidity.The technology has tremendous potential in dry and hot climatic conditions (i.e. tropical) and where electricity is not available. The use of copper tubes for flow of water has health benefits too.

If there is one thing I would like to see large corporations to use, and perhaps it can begin with the next UNFCCC meet, is the refrigerator which keeps vegetables cool and does not require any electricity to do so.

Clay Refrigerator

Why do the inventor of these products never get a Noble Prize? They should be probably the frontrunners for the Peace Prize, if not technical innovation, as these inventions could save and limit the use of many natural resources which are depleting towards oblivion. And there scarcity could lead to strife.

These ideas captures ones imagination as to how Sustainable practice can be implemented in the modern life-style, while living with the technology and materials which were developed by the early human civilization. Who knew how to be one with Mother Nature.

One can argue and it would most probably be true, that these products may not achieve the economies of scale. And would also have technical imperfection when matched against the perfection the GHG producing/consuming modern  appliances. However, if one begins to change the datum of acceptance, to what is comfort and what is luxury, things may begin to look up. Further, the perfect machines of today were not the same when the were first conceived. Ford does not make the Model -T any more.

Already in the practice of LEED / GRIHA buildings we talk about thermal comfort and have understood what is optimum use. Yet the practice of it is limited. This can only change when the pundits of advertisement partner with the inventors to give the spin it requires to become popular & high-fashion and thus in time norm. And it should not be very difficult. because barely 60 years ago almost every house hold in India, cold water came from an earthen pitcher and cool air was mostly through passive cooling design, which still stand the test of time in the Palaces of India.

The innovators in India are simple people. Ordinary yet extra-ordinary is their approach. Especially the innovator of this simple product. A flower pot created out of cow -dung. In one simple stroke the inventor has captured methane, prevented GHG and given a 100% recyclable product. A lesson the west can learn to clear their cesspool.

A genius who would perhaps not even see the steps of the mighty UN. But someone whom India should hail as an hero. Because it is people like them who can solve the Global warming issue in a sustainable way.

Gopalbhai Surtia hails from Gujrat. So did Mahatma Gandhi.

 

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Green Business Idea: Finding CDM opportunity in the Dumps.


Sustainable Development Goals. Sitting in front of my computer I was thinking about how would I be able to express my inner most feeling. As to why we must live sustainably.

Why is it that the UNEP – SBCI trying so hard to popularise the concept of sustainable growth and climate responsive cities. And why is it that we as the inhabitants of this Planet not able to tune into the cause and effect our “way of life” creates for this planet. What more can we do to create the mass hysteria required before the end of UNFCCCDoha to achieve all that every environment conscious person, whether standing alone or in group want. The 4°Centigrade warning by the World Bank has not really affected many.

Looking at the screen saver, my conscious mind wavering and disturbed slowly became tranquil. Just like the tranquillity of the waterfall, which although in continuous motion is unperturbed and in peace with itself and the surrounding it nourishes with life-giving water. And I thought of – Garbage !

Tons and tons of rubbish. So much garbage that the mind becomes numb, as opposed to tranquil. But why is it so ? After all it is we, who create the garbage not nature. Then why are we not at peace with it. Why is it that we cringe at the site of this man-made collection ?

The answer if we seek is simple. It is not natural. And what is not natural, Humans who after all are part of Nature can not co-relate to it. Garbage creation is unique to Human, no other animal species in its quest for daily existence creates garbage. There is a lesson to re-learn from this piece of information. A lesson Human, as it became more “advanced” forgot. We continue to destroy vast tracts of green scape. Whatever we touch ultimately turns into an ugly unholy mess. While we claim to be made as an image of the most holy, God himself.

Why do Humans generate waste ? And other animal species don’t? To understand this we must in simple terms understand the basics of Human nature. An intelligent social  ANIMAL. Somewhere deep in our genetic code, there could be an unconscious response mechanism which gravitates us towards the Lush Green Forests. The most primeval thought would be surely be that we co-relate forest with plentiful food and shelter ( as in our earlier avatar as Chimpanzee) within the tall shady trees.

And then our “intelligence” takes over and we build Concrete shelters and Plastic bowls to aid us in living and eating in comfort. And in the process we end up surrounding us with Garbage. Especially non Bio-degradable waste. If I be the judge of it, I would hand it over to the “Developed Nations” jointly in teaching all Nations around the World how to live a waste-full life .”Presentation” is everything. From decorating a food-plate to decorating oneself, the capacity to create waste is mind-boggling. And the “ambassadors” of wasteful living the “Fashionistas” & their followers need some lesson in frugality. And perhaps if they can be converted to consider frugality as a “trend”. The World would surely survive.

Go to any Fashion Event or Product Launch and see what I mean by waste. It is pure GHG. While the likes of us can never rub shoulders with the Who- is -Who (idiot) list; we are made part of the wasteful living too –

Garbage Island

Garbage Island

Just unpack your latest Mobile phone or Laptop. When was the last time we returned the packaging of our Super costly Pen or Watch back to the Company ? Did one really need the packet of the Pen which we would ultimately put in our shirt pocket or would stay in the pen stand on the writing desk. Rarely used in the era of Tablets ? And please see if you can find the package your tablet came in for that matter. There is a difference between “functional packing” for shipment and “decorative” packing. I point at the later. Our capacity to generate waste has become so huge that not only are we successfully able to deface pristine landscape we have even managed to pollute the mighty ocean. In fact I proudly add to it while unpacking my new Cell phone. First the cellophane, then the cardboard carton, which has highly toxic printed image of the phone within. And No ! I would not want the store to give me an unpacked one and neither would the store ask for the package to be shipped back; to be sent to the manufacturer for reuse. That dirty word. How can a rich upwardly mobile south Mumbai living personality like me do anything with “reuse”. It’s so offensive. In fact we laugh at people who refuse to send us enormous boutique of flowers, wrapped in cellophane and other decorative tit-bits, on any of our celebrations. That we promptly trash it post party and don’t have any clue what happens to it is another matter. After all I am a responsible Citizen minding my business!

https://i1.wp.com/envacapstone.wiki.usfca.edu/file/view/gpgpbackground.gif/66763595/gpgpbackground.gifWe have actually created an Island of waste The Great Pacific Ocean Garbage. And if things continue as usual probably the United Nation would have to declare a new Island state with the usual suspects laying sovereignty claims on it ! If one wants to enjoy the horror of it just tap the You Tube link in this blog’s video section – Grabage Island. And another link here. We also have added more Garbage into the ocean when the Tsunami struck Japan. And with the likes of Hurricane Sandy  & Nilam visiting America and Asia alike, we will only be adding to this garbage. That it is leading to toxicity of the sea to a dangerous level and affecting marine life is obvious. But what is not so evident is that what would be the long-term effect of this to the Climate Change ? Water currents and waves, wind and rain all form a complex chain of events initiated by the Sun. What is the change in reflective or absorption pattern of the Sun over the Ocean, polluted to such a vast area by filth? Will it be changing patterns in the weather ? Will the filth be sucked up in some giant Hurricane and carried within the vortex of the mega storm and dumped over some fine city ? The chances I would say are very likely. Just as likely is the breaking down of this enormous filth through chemical reaction into harmless and some very harmful toxics which would be and perhaps is causing some air & water-borne problem, which the powers that be are already aware of but not willing to discuss. Because, it’s the job of academicians to find the truth and hand it over to the politicians who by the default of who they are, add the spin & gloss to serve their narrow interest ( all politicians have ever wanted from the days of Pharaohs is to have a memorial in public land with public money when they die, civilization be dammed). It has always been true and will perhaps be till we as a civilization find the way to make Logic a religion and Politicians extinct.

But as my wishful thinking may not happen in my life-time, I would do what is available with me, suggest another simple Green Business Idea. My request to the academicians, climate scientists, NGO’s and the Peoples who love to live in this beautiful and Only Living Planet is to shake their respective governments and municipal agencies to adopt PYROLYSIS and this must happen in the UNFCCC Doha COP18. Although a very common process in the Chemical Industry and many large fully continuous pyrolysis plant are functioning, mostly recycling tyre, the potential which catches my eye are –

1. Biochar is also being considered for carbon sequestration, with the aim of mitigation of global warming.The solid, carbon-containing char produced can be sequestered in the ground, where it will remain for several hundred to a few thousand years.

2. Anhydrous pyrolysis can also be used to produce liquid fuel similar to diesel from plastic waste.

The ongoing Climate change negotiations at COP18 Doha, has the opportunity to change the tide towards sustainable living should the stake holders want. Of the many wonderful suggestions which get presented by many, my appeal to those who CAN make the difference on how we use our WORLD RESOURCES is to convince governments all over to encourage Pyrolysis plants as Micro,Small & Medium scale Industry. With especial emphasis on the Micro of the MSME basket.

The beauty of a Micro industry is that it would hire the rag-pickers, the scavengers. The most vulnerable and the economically weaker section of the Indian society. People with the most flexible back, as opposed to my stiff one which does not allow me to bend while walking the filthy streets of Mumbai and pick-up the rubbish strewn around my posh home and imported shiny car. Perhaps the recent comment – “While it may look inappropriate for me to be saying this, Mumbai should do something about the filth and squalour around,” said mayor of London Boris Johnson. Would shake up the Municipal corporations in doing something about the filth in earnest. While bio-degradable waste, is a menace too, barring the chance of causing Bubonic plague. Perhaps a good thing, as the city of Surat in Gujarat which suffered this last, is cleaner today. However, the root of the plague is recorded to have come form Wadwani tahsil, Beed district, Maharastra .

But the real change will come when we would add “value” to the filth especially plastic waste. There is evidence of this in Navsari near the city of Surat itself. A young girl had been able to create a small system spending hardly a few thousand rupee, which could convert 3kg of plastic waste to around 2 litre of liquid fuel. As per the girls claims, she had done this as a school project. If considered true, then it is one of the most fitting example of Women Empowerment and Climate Change abatement wrapped into one. And if supported by the GEF, a true CDM which actually benefits the Planet and the People as opposed to the what has happened in the 1st crediting period of the Kyoto Protocol.

PryolisisConsider, the vast possibilities, shop-keepers of Mumbai & rest of India, who think nothing of allowing their employees or clients from throwing the plastic wrapping and packaging right into the streets; Pan masala or “gutka” (tobacco) chewer ; would no more carelessly throw away the packets & sachet leading to clogged drain but hoard them to be sold to the pyrolysis industry. And the best part, with the tonnes of already stashed plastic the municipal corporations already own, they are almost sitting on an Oil Bank. And that is not the only thing that is produced via PYROLYSIS as is shown in the table above.

The Mumbai Municipal corporations can lead by example and clean-up the stench emanating local railway lines and city streets and in the process solve the humongous problem of fast depleting garbage dumping areas.

On 12th Nov DNA Newspaper an article by Eknath Makne readsEven as the city struggles to dispose 6,500 metric tonnes of waste generated daily, the civic body seems to be in no hurry to upgrade the dumping yards. Violation of municipal solid waste rules, 2000, has added to the stink. It’s high time the BMC pulled up its socks and citizens played an active role in ensuring a litter-free city….The MSW rules (management and handling), 2000, make it mandatory to segregate waste at source. The rules stress dumping of waste in stages like collection, transportation, processing and disposal. The rules were framed based on recommendations made by a panel appointed after a Supreme Court order in connection with 1994 plague epidemic in Surat…..In its 2012-13 budget tabled in March, the corporation had proposed to install 20,000 litter bins of 6.5 litre capacity each across 10,000 locations in city. But the plan will take a few more months to materialise…The municipal corporation’s apathy is seen in the piling garbage in parts of the city. The civic body is supposed to pick up waste from collection points thrice a day. The lack of adequate number of vehicles and compactors has posed hurdles, allowing garbage to accumulate. “Garbage is being picked up after every two days in our area only because we pursue it regularly,” said Nikhil Desai, a resident of King’s Circle. “If we don’t, it rots on the street for 15 days.”….The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has 650 vehicles to collect garbage and requires 300 more compactors. It has invited tenders for dumpers/vehicles to collect garbage from administrative wards. It expects to get the vehicles by June next year. Kanjurmarg yard is not the only example of mismanagement of solid waste in a city, which is growing by leaps and bounds. Lack of processing units waste has added to the poor management of the city’s solid waste. The promised bio-methanisation unit at Mulund dumping ground and composting plant at Deonar site was put it place. But without they being operational, it has added to the city’s garbage woes…..Activist Harischandra Pandey, a resident of Borivli, asserted that participation of the citizens was needed to attain the clean-city tag. “You can’t blame the BMC if you yourself are not adhering to norms,” he said.  Rajkumar Sharma, president of a Chembur-based Advanced Locality Management (ALM), too feels social audits are necessary for a proper execution of the clean-up plan.

While it is evident that Activists and the Municipal corporation are aware of the problem, the solution can not come unless it is converted into a tangible economic benefit for the Citizens. Once we add value to the garbage, it would be rare indeed, to see it going “waste”. In fact some enterprising Indian would find a way to collect all the rubbish out there in the The Great Pacific Ocean Garbage, by building a floating rig and starting producing “off-shore” PYROLYSIS oil ! And as for the bio-degradable waste ? Well we surely can be producing enough methane gas to pipe it for good use somewhere.

It is not enough for us to think in terms of Business as Usual and scale things up. What is important is to find proven technology and scale them down so that the 6 Billion become direct users. Now to me that is large-scale.

 

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World Habitat Day: Resource Efficient Cities


As part of ongoing events of 1st October, the World Habitat day, I was fortunate to attend the UNEP-SBCI webinar and hear the presentation of Mr. Arab Habolla, Head UNEP, Chief of Sustainable Consumption and Production on the 3rd of this month. On his opening remarks he set the agenda in a simple manner, immediately outlining the gravity of the problem at hand.

Currently Cities occupy only 3% of the Land surface, however the impact it has on the Environment is enormous. Almost 50% of the Global waste; 60-80% of the Global GHG emissions; and 75% of the natural resources are consumed by the Cities. A mind-boggling statistics which parches the throat of any environmentalist. And it could get worse – currently we have 50% of the World population living in Cities. Estimates are that by 2050 AD, it would increase to 80%.

While these data mean a lot to those who are attuned to the problem, my article would once again focus to bring this closer to the average person by relating it to events and then pointing towards solutions, which only a ground-swell and active participation of the populace can perfect.

While I concede that when it comes to the Planet, none of us are “experts”. Its too complex a subject and thus it needs the collective advice from all stream of thought. Economic and Philosophical thoughts leading the stream. However, through this article, I would once more attempt to bring out what is being said at the various forums like the UN; and bring to the common person by relating a series of events which are taking place around them. And by adding the various links to earlier articles, refrain from repeating what I’ve already penned before.

Parel mill lands, Mumbai

Parel mill lands, Mumbai (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Let me begin my argument with this DNA newspaper article Going vertical with a vengeance;  – Areas which were not too long ago dotted with settlements for mill workers now boast of skyscrapers. Given the city’s high population density, developers argue that high-rises are more convenient and hold the answer to our housing problems….Several areas in central Mumbai like Lalbaug, Parel and Sewri, which until a few years ago had settlements for housing mill workers and lower-income groups, have now undergone a sea change. They now boast of apartments which cost upwards of Rs5 crore (50 Million Rupee ). Lower Parel, which was once dotted with textile mills, is now in the middle of a metamorphosis. Old, dilapidated structures are being pulled down to make way for sprawling malls, glossy office buildings and skyscrapers. From the 65-storied Indiabulls Sky and the 75-storied tower at the Jupiter Mills site, to the 80-storied Raheja Platinum in Worli and the 55-storied Lodha Bellissimo at Mahalaxmi, these concrete edifices are soaring into the sky, changing the landscape — and the skyline – of central Mumbai. Architect Hafeez Contractor, the pioneer of superstructures in the city, says, “Mumbai has a population of 20 million and but its area is only 470sqkm. When you are looking at such a large population over a small area of land, vertical is the only way to go.”  He predicts that the city’s population will rise to 30 million in the years to come. “How will Mumbai deal with such an increase [in population]? The only answer is to increase the FSI (floor space index). Only when we do this will the city get on its own feet and earn enough to create the infrastructure that will be needed to sustain this vertical growth.”…..

Business persons do not pause to think that their actions can contribute disaster to the already fragile situation(Sustainable Cities – Why town planning is important )and are using the popular media to influence the members of the public as  how their need for housing would be solved by they creating the high-rise. However, the well written article by Rathod, uses a tounge-in-cheek method to show how wrong this is; while remaining true to his journalistic ethics of reporting without adding his bias – Several areas in central Mumbai like Lalbaug, Parel and Sewri, which until a few years ago had settlements for housing mill workers and lower-income groups, have now undergone a sea change. They now boast of apartments which cost upwards of Rs5 crore.How on earth a common persons dream to own a house be possible if the rate of these flats in the high-rises be 50 Million Rupee? And here the city administrators need to most educate the average person as why Town planning is important. We shall deal with a few recommendations in the later section of this article.

While I do not deny that Vertical Growth and Economy of a city is important, short-sighted irresponsible comments by those who are deemed as experts is not a happy situation. Just as in Medicine, so in Architecture. The architect is responsible not just to his/her narrow interest but must look beyond in creating the social fabric of the society. They can define the culture of a place by their imagination turned into reality. It’s the architect who created a City which inspired a Bard to write one of the most beautiful romance – Romeo & Juliet. And it was another architect who created the “Heaven on Earth” another lasting testimony to Love – The TAJ.

One can benefit and even profit by following sensible approach to design,( Green Business Ideas: Carbon Credits opportunities in Green Townships) however unplanned and short-term greed would make our life impossible, which in the City of Mumbai is not too great to begin with.(Sustainable Development Goals: The dangers of Urban Sprawl and its long-term effects on the National Growth) The dangers which the UNEP chief spoke of are real, this needs to be understood by the authorities at the earliest and most importantly educate the grass-roots on the matter and carry out reforms which are sensible.

English: The Seven Islands of Bombay (Now Mumb...

English: The Seven Islands of Bombay (Now Mumbai) before they were merged to form the island of Salsette. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

And for this the media must highlight the truth constantly, which the DNA Newspaper did by the follow-up article – Better safe than sorry in seismic Mumbai an analysis by Dr V SubramanyanThe uneasiness associated with high-rises stems from the fact that most of Mumbai has literally risen from the sea and has only reclaimed land to offer for construction. Only compacted soil is available for the foundations of such proposed buildings. When earthquake vibrations pass through them, water in the soil gets released, leading to liquefaction. This converts soil into a jelly-like mass.This causes considerable damage to very tall structures.The architects who are in favour of going vertical argue that they build taller buildings on raft foundations, which behave like “a ship, pitching and tossing during a storm, but not sinking” during an earthquake. However, researchers in the University of Pennsylvania had claimed in an article in ‘Discover’ magazine (July 2005) that this much-touted raft foundation only tilts the tall buildings and does not effectively contribute to their structural stability during earthquakes. In ‘Going vertical with a vengeance’ (DNA, September 27), the writer has projected the developers’ argument that high-rises are more convenient and hold the answer to our housing problems, given the city’s high population density. The article also comes out with some seemingly grandiose information that at least a dozen buildings with more than 60 storeys are nearing completion, 50 similar towers are underway and at least 100 buildings taller than 70m (with about 22 storeys) are in different stages of construction. But, it is difficult to share the enthusiasm of the government at its plans to forge an international image for Mumbai through a jagged skyline like that of Manhattan, Hong Kong and Singapore. What has been conveniently forgotten is Mumbai’s high seismicity. The city faces the risk of being hit by an earthquake of sufficient magnitude (6.5), which can knock tall buildings off their bases. This, in turn, imposes indisputable restrictions on the heights up to which skyscrapers can be safely constructed, despite adopting the best earthquake-resistant designs, because experts cannot guarantee the safety of high-rises beyond a certain limit. Charles Correa, a reputed architect and town-planner, does not subscribe to the credo that going vertical is the only solution to our housing problems. He had, in fact, dubbed Mumbai’s skyscrapers “monstrosities” some time ago.

While the above is a challenge which needs to be understood by the policy makers, that the City of Mumbai already suffering from population density, failed municipal administration and has a low liveability index, the problems which one does not easily associate with bad urban planning must also be understood. Quoting from my favoured Newspaper the DNA, I present the article  October heat leaves city sick; Mumbaikars complain of weakness, nausea, body pain and perspiration…The sultry weather has forced many with electrolyte imbalance to rush to the doctor. In simple words, this refers to a disturbance in the level of amount of electrolytes (like calcium, sodium and potassium) that is required for normal health and functioning…  this article underscores what I had written earlier on how unplanned Urban growth affects our everyday life; (Sustainable Living : How to read the seemingly unrelated dots which coalesce together to create disasters) It is time the citizens of Mumbai read up on Bombay (as it was then called)  in the early 1900; even with all the mills dotting the famous central Mumbai which developers want to turn into sky-scraper riddled concrete jungle, which would stifle the already stale air further; people did not get sick in Mumbai and the month of October is actually cool. Pune experiences it till date. Even Vashi in Navi Mumbai experiences it a little’, which soon the concrete jungle of Vashi – Panvel will destroy; unless arrested with planned and eco-sensitive development.

So what must be done ? How do we develop the climate responsive cities which is so required in the present. The answer is not simple. Because it involves many stake holders. And among the stake-holders those whose opinion matter most ( second to People power ) usually tinge their opinion with Economical consideration as supreme over others. This must change. The datum of thinking must begin with ecological considerations which then would bring in long-term economic growth.

Taking Mumbai as an example; the first thing the policy makers must do is by an act of the Parliament bring about change in land laws. ( Affordable Housing: The Simples rules required.)

The City must have a ceiling set on the cost of land. It must not be dictated by the demand vs supply chain. Zone wise each district of the city must have an upper and lower price band. This will make sure that the seller of the land gets the legitimate price while the developer does not have to sell his last shirt to buy it. If the upper limit is set just 20%, chances are the sellers would choose their developer on qualifications other than monetary, such as their track record in sustainable design development etc. The State legislature must qualify a set of developers who submit an affidavit that they shall always comply to sustainable design development. Punitive punishment to the developer and design house, such as barring the developer from conducting any business within the city limits and a monetary fine be levied via extracting the cost it would need to remodel the project as per sustainable standards from the design house.

If an architect does not design incorrect, there is no way a developer can build wrong. The UN must target the young minds through sustained media campaigns.

Further,speculative buying must be stopped. Investors must be barred from real estate purchases of finished flats. They can however invest on the development. This would encourage the development of rental homes. An economic model be devised, where the leesee can have the option of buying the house on the 5th year at the market governed price. Else they vacate and the property is sold. This will give equal benefit to the user, developer and the investor.

For the Developer can hold on to a property which he has not been able to sell, while at the same time be less pressured from the investor, to whom he can pay the interest he gathers via rent.

The Investor normally seeks profit on his investment, so would wait for 5 year to have the value of the property increase, while getting his interest.

The Home seeker, who may not be able to afford to buy a home in a certain locality gets to live, instead of looking at locked-up empty houses booked by investors who would never need to live there.

And lastly and most importantly, The Government would be able to live up to its promise of providing shelter to the citizens and tax-payers who genuinely require housing.

The next step should be freeing up the old city and converting the plots into Bond & Shares. Then developing the area scientifically. Those who would receive areas smaller than what they had, would have the options of using their bonds to buy space,either in the same site or move to another part of the city. Going away to another town to use their bonds would also give them far more return, as the cost of homes beyond Mumbai are less.

Last but not the least should be codifying the development style. Based on the climatic zone, Cities and Mumbai must build only a fixed pattern of structure. The buildings near the coast must not rise beyond 4th floor, while the ones inland can be tall-buildings which adhere to the building norms of the city including taking into account the Earthquake preventions. We all love symmetry, and this extended to buildings too. Venice would not have looked as beautiful today had the town planners allowed monstrous design and construction to happen. Further allowing only 3-4 styles of architecture with special emphasis to indigenous designs would also help assessors quantify the actual cost of the building based on types of material used and amenities given. Thus quality would overtake hype and the Citizens would benefit. Mumbai, can and must understand this and become one of the beacons of C40 cities. India under the UPA-1 had begun well, its time that we carry out the ideas which our PM has -(Green Business Ideas : P.M.Manmohan Singh’s idea of Terminal Market Complex is a superb Green Idea which needs to be implemented) to make our Country and our cities truly climate responsive.

 

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Key findings from the report are:

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

Recommendations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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