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Series: INDCs and the road to Paris – 1

(Note: India’s Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC), its eagerly awaited promise of action to counter climate change ahead of the Paris climate talks this year, was released earlier this month. Starting with this one, we present a series of posts that look at whether India’s pledge is all its claimed to be. In this post, we present some of the initial coverage of the pledge that summarises its contents and a guide to understanding the importance of INDCs, apart from India’s INDC document itself)

Full text of India’s INDC

A concise summary of India’s INDCs: India Announces New Climate Targets

A primer on INDCs and what they imply, read: Adding up INDCs: what country commitments could mean for climate change

ANALYSES

India’s INDC is fair, and its renewable energy and forestry targets are ambitious, says CSE
CSE India
India’s INDC reflects its development challenges, aspirations and the realities of climate change. India’s renewable energy target is more ambitious than that of the US. India’s emission intensity target is exactly similar to that of China’s. About 85 per cent of countries have submitted their INDCs. Their collective pledges are not in line with keeping the world within the safe 2°C temperature rise target.

 5 Key Takeaways from India’s New Climate Plan
World Resources Institute
As the world’s third-largest emitter and a country that’s highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, it is encouraging to witness India invest in actions to tackle climate change while addressing critical issues such as poverty, food security and access to healthcare and education.

India’s climate pledge: keeping promises will be a tall order
Nihar Gokhale, Catch News
While it is true that much of the climate action plan depends on getting money and technology from abroad, some of the activities are urgent. Of the total cost, about $206 billion will be needed for just dealing with the adverse impacts of climate change, known in climate jargon as ‘adaptation’. Whether or not India actually spends on renewable energy, this is a cost it must bear. This includes saving its people from vagaries of rainfall, sudden and extreme events like cyclones, and in maintaining water security amidst a warming world.

India’s first step towards climate solution is good, but it has miles to go on a complex road
Rohini Mohan, The Economic Media
International climate change watchers have praised India’s INDC for being superior to many other countries, even though it only contributed to 4 per cent of historical emissions. They are not legally binding, but the sustainability language and low carbon targets show a major leap in India’s recent willingness to act against climate change. The domestic strategies to meet the targets, however, tell a more complex story. Even as India talks of low-emissions plans, it continues high-emission growth, and is unlikely to stop soon. Whether or not technological solutions and renewables achieve total emission cuts in the long run, without a core shift in approach, India will be chasing a moving goal.

Curbing Consumption is the Only Way Out to Avoid Climate Change

Finding new ways to continue with the same model of growth and consumption will put enormous pressure on finite resources

Swati Agarwal & Mihir Mathur, The Wire

Pollution generating cars in Delhi that contribute to global warming. (Photo: Deepak)

Pollution generating cars in Delhi that contribute to global warming. (Photo: Deepak)

With two major conferences this year on the deeply integrated issues of climate change (to be held in Paris) and sustainable development (that took place in UNGA, New York) under the United Nations Framework, discussions are taking place globally on the transformation of economies and the role of technology in achieving these goals. The international community on climate change is strongly pushing the agenda of deep de-carbonization for the global economy in order to meet the challenge of restricting temperature increase to 2 degree Celsius.

The assumption seems to be that this transition will be achieved primarily through the transition of economies towards renewable energy, energy efficiency and through afforestation. Technology and innovation are being touted as the two powerful drivers that will help achieve low carbon growth in the context of climate change. This is the vaunted ‘sustainable development’ that has filled the headlines, but recent research by the authors show that, this scenario is based on assumptions that do not bear scrutiny. 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…

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…

India is now a make-or-break nation for climate change – and the planet’s future

India’s coal dependence has led to rising emissions. Now, even the Chief Economic Advisor has acknowledged that India needs to cut down on them.

Sajai Jose

A new global report has revealed that India’s carbon dioxide emissions growth in 2014 was not only the largest in terms of volume in its own history, but for the first time the country has become the biggest contributor to global emissions growth.

In 2014, the world added an extra 187 million tons of CO2 into the atmosphere over 2013 levels, amounting to a 0.5% increase in the sum total of CO2 emissions.  In contrast, India’s emissions from fossil fuel use grew by a startling 8.1% in the same period, amounting to 157 million tons of CO2 more than the previous year’s emissions.

In other words, India has bucked a worldwide trend of slowing carbon emissions to become the fastest-growing major polluter in the world. This marks a significant shift in carbon emissions trends that holds serious implications for climate change.

The first sign that the Indian establishment has taken note of this emerged on Wednesday with a report in the Business Standard stating that Chief Economic Advisor Arvind Subramanian has written to the Prime Minister, recommending that India change its strategy on climate change. “He has advised that India stop focusing on adaptation to meet the inevitable threats of climate change on the poor and, instead, do more to reduce its own emission,” the newspaper said. Read more…

News update

Warming of oceans due to climate change is unstoppable, say US scientists
The Guardian UK
The warming of the oceans due to climate change is now unstoppable after record temperatures last year, bringing additional sea-level rise, and raising the risks of severe storms, US government climate scientists has said. The annual State of the Climate in 2014 report, based on research from 413 scientists from 58 countries, found record warming on the surface and upper levels of the oceans, especially in the North Pacific, in line with earlier findings of 2014 as the hottest year on record.

Climate Change And India: The Way Ahead
Kashif Islam, Countercurrents.org
Since climate change is a global and not national problem, any successful climate action must include both today’s emitters as well as limit future emissions. If it’s India and China who ask for exemptions today, it will be Africa’s turn tomorrow. In the absence of alternatives, the poor and low consuming Indian or African of today becomes perforce the polluter and wasteful consumer of tomorrow. We simply don’t have that kind of leeway and time in dealing with climate change.

Wicked problems and wicked solutions: the case of the world’s food supply
Ugo Bardi
I’m back from two days of full immersion in a meeting on something rather new for me: the world’s food supply. I am still reeling from the impact. Whenever you go in some depth into anything; you see how immensely more complex things are in comparison to the pale shadow of the world that you perceive in the glittering screen of your TV. Everything is complex, and everything complex becomes wicked once you start seeing it as a problem. And wicked problems usually generate wicked solutions.

What Greece, Cyprus, and Puerto Rico Have in Common
Gail Tverberg
We all know one thing that Greece, Cyprus, and Puerto Rico have in common–severe financial problems. There is something else that they have in common–a high proportion of their energy use is from oil. Figure 1 shows the ratio of oil use to energy use for selected European countries in 2006. Greece and Cyprus are at the top of this chart. The other “PIIGS” countries (Ireland, Spain, Italy, and Portugal) are immediately below Greece.

Austerity and Degrowth
André Reichel
I want to argue about the strange siding of degrowth thinkers and activists with Syriza, its stimulus-oriented economic agenda, and their overall rebuttal of ‘austerity’. Because suddenly growth-oriented policies appear to be OK if they are somehow against ‘austerity’ or ‘neoliberalism’. Can it get, intellectually, any more shallow than that?

Muslim scholars say climate change poses dire threat
Climate News Network
Human beings could cause the ending of life on the planet, says a group of Islamic scholars − and countries round the world, particularly the rich ones, must face up to their responsibilities. Climate change, they say, is induced by human beings: “As we are woven into the fabric of the natural world, its gifts are for us to savour – but we have abused these gifts to the extent that climate change is upon us.” The views of the scholars – some of the strongest yet expressed on climate from within the Muslim community – are contained in a draft declaration on climate change to be launched officially at a major Islamic symposium in Istanbul in mid-August.

The real ‘struggle of our generation’ is not terrorism
George Monbiot
In the longer term, climate change, antibiotic resistance, soil loss and nuclear proliferation by states (including our own) are orders of magnitude more dangerous. But a Churchillian struggle against an identifiable enemy is grander and more glamorous than the battle against faceless but much greater threats. It is also politically less costly, as it offends the interests of neither corporations nor billionaires.

Straight Talk On The Pope And Climate Change
Raymond Lotta, Revcom.us
Many within the environmental movement, including some of its most prominent leading figures, have jumped on the encyclical as a “game-changer.” People are making the argument that one of the world’s most powerful religious-moral voices is now sounding the climate alarm, that he is opening Church discourse to the science of global warming, and that the pope is uniquely capable of inspiring and moving public policy in the right direction. So we should welcome the pope’s encyclical on climate change. To which our reply is… WRONG, WRONG, WRONG.

Global threat interactive: What’s the world scared of?
The Guardian UK
Climate change is what the world’s population perceives as the top global threat, followed by global economic instability and Isis, according to research conducted by the Pew Research Center. The report focuses on those who say they are “very concerned” about each issue. India, and the African and Latin American countries top the list when it comes to climate change and economy. Tensions between Russia or China and their neighbours, “remain regional concerns”.

40% Of Russia’s Food Is Grown From Dacha Gardens
Trueactivist.com
While the majority of citizens in developed nations rely on transported produce and packaged goods to satiate their grumbling stomachs, the people of Russia feed themselves. They have little need for large-scale agriculture, as their agricultural economy is small scale, predominantly organic, and in the capable hands of their nation’s people. Natural Homes has reported that in 2011, 51% of Russia’s food was grown either by dacha communities (40%), or by peasant farmers (11%). The remaining 49% of production was left to large agricultural enterprises.

Financial crash alert!

(Note: As the world watches the unfolding crisis in Greece with bated breath, here’s a look at other, perhaps lesser known trends that indicate a global financial crash is in the offing. Here’s a collection of articles by prominent economists and analysts that  make that case. Some pieces are dated, but have been included here for their insight on the malaise plaguing the global financial system.)

World economy may be slipping into 1930s Great Depression problems: RBI’s Raghuram Rajan
The Economic Times
When Raghuram Rajan warned about a looming financial market crisis a decade ago, former US Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers said he was being ‘Luddite’. In the event, Rajan was right. Now the Reserve Bank of India governor is sounding the alarm again — the very efforts of central banks in the developed world to avoid another Great Depression by keeping interest rates at zero may lead to precisely that outcome.

Has China’s Stock Bubble Popped?
Jesse Colombo, Forbes.com
China’s red-hot stock market fell approximately 25 percent in the past couple weeks due to increasing regulatory scrutiny and growing bubble fears. The 145 percent rally began last summer after the government further opened the nation’s equity market to foreign investors, and domestic retail investors have scrambled to get a piece of the action.

New Global Crisis Imminent Due To “Poisonous Combination Of Record Debt And Slowing Growth”
From Zerohedge.com
A “poisonous combination” of record debt and slowing growth suggest the global economy could be heading for another crisis, a hard-hitting report warns.The 16th annual Geneva Report, commissioned by the International Centre for Monetary and Banking Studies and written by a panel of senior economists including three former senior central bankers, predicts interest rates across the world will have to stay low for a “very, very long” time to enable households, companies and governments to service their debts and avoid another crash.

The Coming Crash of All Crashes – but in Debt
Martin Armstrong, Armstrong Economics
Why are governments rushing to eliminate cash? During previous recoveries following the recessionary declines from the peaks in the Economic Confidence Model, the central banks were able to build up their credibility and ammunition so to speak by raising interest rates during the recovery. This time, ever since we began moving toward Transactional Banking with the repeal of Glass Steagall in 1999, banks have looked at profits rather than their role within the economic landscape.

The case for a global recession in 2018
Chris Matthews, Fortune
Optimists hope that an accelerating U.S. economy will have what it takes to drag the rest of the world out of the doldrums, as it has done during so many past recoveries. But David Levy, economist and chairman of the Jerome Levy Forecasting Center, argues that the problems of the rest of the world will end up taking the U.S. down, rather than the other way around.

Is a global economic recession coming? Copper price say ‘yes’
Debbie Carlson, The Guardian UK
The copper market crashed overnight to its lowest level since the middle of the financial crisis in 2008, fueling fears that the global economy is slowing more sharply than many experts had anticipated. Like oil, copper has a deep effect on the world economy because it is key for phone lines, cables and other infrastructure. It is also important to several world economies; the world’s largest copper producers, in order, are Chile, China, Peru, the US and Australia. The copper market is just the latest commodities market to suffer from a kind of panic, as oil prices have halved in just a few months.

Monetary Policy for the Next Recession
Clive Crook, Bloomberg View
By pre-crash standards, the big central banks have made and continue to make amazing efforts to support demand and keep their economies running. Quantitative easing would once have been seen as reckless. The world avoided another Great Depression. Yet even in the U.S., this is a seriously sub-par recovery; growth in Europe and Japan has been worse still. Now imagine a big new financial shock. It’s quite possible that all three economies would fall back into recession. What then?

The Liquidity Time Bomb
Nouriel Roubini, Project Syndicate
A paradox has emerged in the financial markets of the advanced economies since the 2008 global financial crisis. Unconventional monetary policies have created a massive overhang of liquidity. But a series of recent shocks suggests that macro liquidity has become linked with severe market illiquidity.

The Dollar Will Die with a Whimper, Not a Bang
James Rickards
The decline of the dollar as a reserve currency started in 2000 with the advent of the euro and accelerated in 2010 with the beginning of a new currency war. That decline is now being amplified by China’s emergence as a major creditor and gold power. Not to mention the actions of a new anti-dollar alliance consisting of the BRICS, Iran and others. If history is a guide, inflation in U.S. dollar prices will come next.

The Insatiable God
George Monbiot
Another crash is coming. We all know it, now even David Cameron acknowledges it. The only questions are what the immediate catalyst will be, and when it begins. You can take your pick. The Financial Times reports today that China now resembles the US in 2007. Domestic bank loans have risen 40% since 2008, while “the ability to repay that debt has deteriorated dramatically”. Property prices are falling and the companies that run China’s shadow banking system provide “virtually no disclosure” of their liabilities.

Book Extract: The Ingredients Of A Market Crash
By John Hussman, Zerohedge.com

India Is Now World’s Fastest-Growing Major Polluter

620smoke

Sajai Jose

For the first time ever, the year 2014 saw India’s carbon dioxide emissions growth accounting for the largest share of global emissions growth, according to a new global report. India’s CO2emissions from energy use had increased by 8.1% during the year, making it the world’s fastest-growing major polluter.

It was the single-most significant trend revealed in the latest edition of British Petroleum’s comprehensive Statistical Review of World Energy, but the Indian media got the story upside down. Most coverage celebrated India’s sky-high energy-consumption figures, while glossing over its record-breaking emissions growth, a historical milestone with serious implications. Read more…

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