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Call for Papers: Indian Society for Ecological Economics

CALL FOR PAPERS

The 8th Biennial Conference of the Indian Society for Ecological Economics (INSEE)

On

URBANIZATION AND THE ENVIRONMENT

Hosted by

Department of Management Studies, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore

During

4 – 6 January 2016

Rapid urbanization and industrialization-led economic growth are the quintessential features of developing country landscapes, particularly in South Asia. Urbanization brings about dramatic changes in local environments, occupying land and water bodies, creating air pollution and heat island effects. It places demands on regional resources such as water and agriculture. Urban areas and industry dump their solid waste and effluents onto peri-urban areas, remote islands or deep beneath the oceans. The growth of industry, which promises and at times provides more jobs, legitimizes this demand for resources, the creation of new slums and gentrified spaces, different gender relationships, lifestyle changes and health impacts. Urban lifestyles also set the benchmark to which others aspire, and therefore the ecological footprint they will generate.

INSEE, an association of professionals interested in issues at the interface of ecology, economy, and society, invites submissions of original papers and panels of papers addressing these concerns at its 8th Biennial Conference, which focuses on“Urbanization and the Environment”.

Read more…

Shankar Sharma: High GDP growth centred paradigm and GHG emissions

Shankar Sharma, ORF Energy News Monitor

Whereas many conventional economic analysts argue that in order to have adequate human development index the country’s economy has to grow continuously at an appreciable rate, a densely populated and resource constrained society such as ours cannot afford to ignore the implications of high energy / material consumption (which will be a consequence of high growth of the economy). As the table below indicates, whereas the economy will grow by 300% in 36 years at Compounded Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 4%, it takes only 18 years to grow the economy by 400% at 10% CAGR. In this context it is essential to address the question how much energy / material consumption increase is considered acceptable?

Time taken for economy to get multiplied at constant CAGR

Read more…

Course: Understanding Rural India

Azim Premji University

Azim Premji University, Bangalore, is holding a non-residential introductory course, Understanding Rural India: Life and Livelihoods at the Base of the Pyramid, aimed at those who are relatively new to the development sector.

Dates: Nov 16 – 26, 2018
Venue: Bangalore

Rural India is undergoing unprecedented transformations, which have profound impact on the livelihoods of the rural poor by influencing the nature of their work, work related relationships, new opportunities, nature of rural-urban connect and household vulnerability. Understanding the nature of this transition in rural livelihoods is critical in order to design and participate in meaningful efforts to promote livelihoods security for rural households. Read more…

Special: Questioning the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals

Sustainable Development Goals: Can we pull them off?
Catch News
The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will replace the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The new set has 169 targets. Critics believe these are well-intentioned, but range from grandiose (end hunger) to peripheral (promote sustainable tourism) to flat-out impossible (full and productive employment and decent work for all). Nevertheless, India is committing to some tough goals. Here’s a quick reckoner of what they are and a reality check on where we stand.

The Sustainable Development Goals: A Siren and Lullaby for Our Times
Thomas Pogge & Alnoor Ladha, Occupy.com
The SDGs inequality goal (target 10.1) allows current trends of income concentration to continually increase until 2029 before they start to decline. This totally ignores the structure of our economic system which creates inequality in the very rules that enforce and articulate the current distribution of wealth.

What if everything the SDGs are premised on is just wrong?
Martin Kirk, African Arguments
At the upcoming UN General Assembly, we are all about to be told some stories as part of a big of the “world’s largest advertising campaign” by the UN, NGOs, governments and large corporations to sell us on the new global plan to tackle poverty. It’s up to each of us to determine whether these stories are full of hope we can believe in or just a big serving of marketing and spin.

The UN’s Sustainability Plan Is ‘Doomed,’ According to Linguistic Analysis
Nafeez Ahmed
A report circulated to UN officials argues that the entire SDG process has been “fundamentally compromised” by powerful corporations with an interest in sustaining business as usual. Commissioned by Washington DC-based nonprofit TheRules.org, a global activist network campaigning to address the root causes of poverty, the report is based on “frame analysis”—a scientific method examining linguistic and conceptual patterns to reveal how people define, construct, and process information.

Sustained economic growth: United Nations mistake the poison for the cure
Samuel Alexander, The Conversation
The defining flaw in the United Nations’ agenda is the naïve assumption that “sustained economic growth” is the most direct path to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. This faith in the god of growth is fundamentally misplaced. It has been shown, for example, that for every $100 in global growth merely $0.60 is directed toward resolving global poverty. Not only is this an incredibly inefficient pathway to poverty alleviation, it is environmentally unsupportable.

Five reasons to think twice about the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals
Jason Hickel, London School of Economics
People aren’t getting excited about the SDGs because they know that business as usual isn’t going to deliver the new economy we so desperately need. In this sense, the goals are not only a missed opportunity, they are actively dangerous: they lock in the global development agenda for the next 15 years around a failing economic model that requires urgent and deep structural changes, and they kick the hard challenge of real transformation down the road for the next generation to deal with – by which time it may be too late.

What the SDGs Could Learn from Indigenous Peoples
Fionuala Cregan, Common Dreams
Across the world, Indigenous Peoples are at the forefront of struggles to defend the Earth’s remaining habitats from the relentless advance of extractive industries, from open air mining, to oil driling to and single crop industrial agriculture. Unfortunately, the new SDGs offer them little by way of support.

Nitin Sethi answers readers’ questions on climate change and India

 Nitin Sethi - Senior Associate Editor, Business Standard

Nitin Sethi, Senior Associate Editor, Business Standard
DATE: September 02, 2018
SUBJECT: Should India distance itself from China on its climate change policy?

ASKED BY: RANJEET KUMAR

The biggest hurdle in tackling climate change is finance in a developing country. Although, India is ready to adopt the process of mitigation and adaptation, we do not have money to implement this. Nevertheless, we have launched many ambitious plans to tackle climate change like installation of 100 GW solar power and wind etc, however it looks impossible. On the other hand, developed countries dont seem to fulfill their commitment of $100 billion green climate fund. So sir how do you see solve this problem? My second question is do we really equate china with us knowing that the have reached at par with them on industrial revolution but we even have not properly started it our “per cepital emission” is lowest in the world in that scenario. How can we make any BINDING COMMITMENT?

ANSWER BY: NITIN SETHI

Ranjeet you ask two questions. Let me try to answer both separately. On finance – If the G77 group of countries can stick closer together at the climate negotiations they should be able to drive a harder bargain at Paris and get some of the committed finances flowing. Its going to be uphill as the ongoing negotiations at Bonn are reflecting. But it is an essential make or break issue now for the Paris talks everyone realises. On India’s ambitious targets – While many experts have also warned that some of these targets are too ambitious they at least provide a good signal to market and investors as to which direction we are moving. We may not say achieve the 100 GW target in the scheduled time but even if we achieve say 60-70 GW it would have been a great leap. And who knows if technology prices would substantially reduce as we scale up to make these targets achievable in a bit longer a run Read more…

Paper: Sustainability Dynamics of Resource Use and Economic Growth

A Discussion on Sustaining the Dynamic Linkages between Renewable Natural Resources and the Economic System
Mihir Mathur & Swati Agarwal, TERI
systemIn this paper , we have used System Dynamics to test three popular policy options for sustaining Economic Growth, 1) Resource Efficiency, 2) Resource Efficiency and Green Growth, 3) Doubling of Resource Base due to technological advancement. The model outcomes indicate that the above policies fail to avoid the overshoot and fall of the economy due to resource depletion, but are successful in delaying it.

Read more…

Dunu Roy: A Subaltern View of Climate Change

Dunu Roy, EPW

(Note: In the context of the ongoing debate on climate change and the policies that nation states need to adopt to limit the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, the author poses a relevant question: instead of asking what would happen to the world if everyone were to consume energy at the level of the rich “developed” American, we can now enquire why everyone is not consuming at the level of the above-poor “developing” Indian? He also suggests that the way the poor adapt, migrate and progress provides not just a sustainable approach to climate change but also one that addresses resource use.)

Climate change takes place when the carbon cycle is disturbed. One can address this imbalance either by using more effi cient technologies, or by changing the exploitative nature of development. A worldwide analysis shows that it is possible to achieve quality of life indicators at low levels of energy consumption.

India’s per capita emissions are three times lower than the world average, but what reduces India’s average is the very low energy use of the bottom seven deciles of the population. Therefore, theoretically, global climate change would be mitigated if everyone on the planet adapted to consume energy at the level of the working Indian.

Microstudies from Delhi, Visakhapatnam, Jaipur, Allahabad and Kolkata illustrate that at a practical level the poor are demonstrating the “best practice” for mitigating and adapting to climate change. And if resource restoration by the poor through their labour is taken into account, then the difference would be even higher.

Download PDF of article:  A Subaltern View of Climate Change

In the news: Modi govt and the state of the environment

Outlook Magazine

Mangroves in peril Navi Mumbai airport site

 

How The NDA Is Whittling Down Green Norms

  • Change in definition of no-go area in dense forest, leaving more area open for project
  • Keeping powers with the Centre to even allow projects in ‘no-go areas’ of dense forests
  • Proposal to allow firms to take over afforestation, thus jeopardising the rights of tribals
  • Role of gram sabhas diluted or taken away under blanket consent for development
  • Automatic approval to highway and other defence projects near border areas
  • Moratorium lifted on new projects in several highly polluting industrial areas
  • National Green Tribunal role sought to be diluted by taking away the right to appeal to it

For years the proposal to develop a second airport for Bombay at Navi Mumbai had been awaiting environmental clearance. The issue had been the rivers and the mangroves near the selected site. With one stroke, all the concerns—including the stipulation to create a mangrove san­ctuary—have been brushed aside by the Narendra Modi government. Late last month, Union minister of environment and forests Prakash Javadekar gave the green signal to the project on the condition that the mangroves should be made unattractive for birds, given their potential threat to flying aircraft.

“In effect it would mean destroying the mangroves to stop birds from nesting there,” says Ulka Mahajan, an environment activist. “The intentions are very clear now; it is all only about corporates. The government is happy to wipe out nature.” The move will also destroy fish breeding in the shallow waters of the mangrove.  “It is ridiculous to say you can plant mangroves,” says Girish Raut, environmentalist and expert on mangroves. “It took hundreds and thousands of years for ecosystems to evolve and it takes one project to wipe it out.”

The Navi Mumbai airport project is just one of the many instances that highlight the BJP government’s cavalier attitude toward environment in its desire to speed up mandatory green clearan­ces for projects. Safe­guards for land, water bodies and environment are being carefully dil­u­ted. The policies of the government are steering us to a situation that poses a clear threat to India’s green spaces.

Closely linked to speedy environment clearances for infrastructure and other projects are forest clearances and the proposed land acquisition bill. While the former is being tweaked unmindful of the damage to green belts, the latter is yet another assault on the rights of farmers and tribals who will have little or no say in whosoever wants to acquire their land for setting up an enterprise or infrastructure project.

It reeks of a clear pattern. In an analysis of one year of Modi sarkar, Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) director general Sunita Narain observed that incremental changes have been made to “ease the process” of project clearances. A major cause of concern, according to the think-tank, is the shift in responsibility of project clearances from the Centre to state agencies minus any capacity building or accountability. The states can now take their own decision on thermal power, irrigation, mining and other projects. Also, like many other development experts, the CSE has questioned the dilution of the public hearing process. Political activist M. Kodanda Ram points to the Polavaram dam project in Andhra Pradesh. Work started under UPA rule, despite violations galore—from not seeking public opinion, improper land acquisition to lack of statutory rehabilitation. In 2011, then environment minister Jairam Ramesh withdrew the environment clearance and stalled the project till the reorganisation of states.

“But now the NDA has given the state government indication of support for the completion of the project, though the clearances are still not available,” says Ram. “In this particular case, the damages to the forest and tribals who are going to be displaced is huge.” Both Orissa and Chhattisgarh have filed cases against the project in the Supreme Court.

A preliminary assessment by US-based Rights and Resources Group on the implementation of the Forest Rights Act has found a decided lack of effort to recognise the rights of forest-dwellers. Despite the law having granted traditional forest-dwellers community forest resource (CFR) rights, the study based on government data points out that so far “the total forest area over which CFR rights have been recognised is less than 5,00,000 hectares or barely 1.2 per cent of the CFR rights potential in the country”. Continue reading

Also from Outlook: Make (Money in India) by Ashish Kothari
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had some time back suggested that one solution to climate change is to switch off street lamps on moonlit nights. Really? Encourage polluting industries and coal-based power plants across India, shove aside forests for expressways, and incentivise rapid growth in motorcars … and then compensate all these carbon emissions by switching off street lamps a few nights a year? Who is Mr Modi trying to fool? Read article

From Catchnews.in: How the govt lets green sinners judge themselves
Corporates and governments pushing for projects with environmental consequences hire experts, who study such impacts. Since field visits by the ministry are rare, clearances are granted based exclusively on data from such experts. Over the years, examples of studies with false information, plagiarism, and deliberate underestimation of impacts have become common. These studies, called environmental impact assessments (EIA) are also often marred by conflicts of interest. Read article

 

Odanthurai – Tamil Nadu's energy self sufficient village

Odanthurai powers

Times of India

COIMBATORE: Just a fortnight after the civic body elections, a village panchayat in Coimbatore has decided to offer free electricity to its residents within the next five years.

Having already won international acclaim through its unique welfare schemes and energy self-sufficiency drives, Odanthurai near Mettupalayam has begun efforts to develop a corpus of Rs 5 crore to install wind and solar energy farms.

This project will enable free supply of electricity to over 8,000 residents. This effort is quite remarkable at a time when the rest of Tamil Nadu suffers power deficiency. Read article

Read about Odanthurai’s many achievements
Read researcher B. Priyadharshini’s report of a visit to Odanthurai

Odanthurai – Tamil Nadu’s energy self sufficient village

Odanthurai powers

Times of India

COIMBATORE: Just a fortnight after the civic body elections, a village panchayat in Coimbatore has decided to offer free electricity to its residents within the next five years.

Having already won international acclaim through its unique welfare schemes and energy self-sufficiency drives, Odanthurai near Mettupalayam has begun efforts to develop a corpus of Rs 5 crore to install wind and solar energy farms.

This project will enable free supply of electricity to over 8,000 residents. This effort is quite remarkable at a time when the rest of Tamil Nadu suffers power deficiency. Read article

Read about Odanthurai’s many achievements
Read researcher B. Priyadharshini’s report of a visit to Odanthurai

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