Issue 10, March 2009
The Road To Copenhagen TCP is globally focusing on the upcoming negotiations at Copenhagen and here are some of our thoughts. It is a peculiar feature of international negotiations that the hopes and aspirations of millions are compacted into a single national negotiating position. Countries acquire human like personalities; the forward looking Scandinavians, the aggressive Russians, the innovative Dutch and so on. These descriptions bely the incredible variety that exists domestically in each country - a point which is perhaps most acute for India. In a country where carbon footprints are as unequal as incomes, the Indian face of climate change is both the poor un-electrified villager and the jet-owning billionaire. This discrepancy is perhaps over-highlighted however. We clearly have a growing upper middle class which is beginning to rival European levels of emissions but the size of this population has always been overestimated. Within a country of a billion, we may well have a population the size of Spain that is beginning to emit to the levels of the most efficient Europeans. The story of Indian Climate Change remains dominated by the energy have-nots. The size of these have-nots is larger than all of Europe and USA put together. So while domestically we need to check the rise of our emissions, the international negotiating arena needs a fair deal for the have-nots who will need funding and tech transfers to develop cleanly. At a micro level this means that the poor should get access to basic electricity at a price that is at least the same if not lower than their richer countrymen. It is ironic the number of sustainable development proposals that ask for the poor to pay more for energy than what the rest of us are paying.
It is hard to negotiate with split personalities. This year at Copenhagen the sum total of Indian voices need to have one face and that is the face of the energy starved, striving to develop, willing to be mindful of environmental challenges but needing the tools to meet those challenges. The poor need a voice and India has to be loud in giving them one. As for the rest of us, with our growing carbon footprints, well that is a fight we should have in the domestic arena.
With that, we introduce our monthly newsletter, This issue contains an assortment of news from within the climate arena in India and reports on TCPIâ€™s recent activities. We hope you will enjoy it.
Climate Ride 2009, India
18 days â€“ 1800 Kms, 130 climate leaders, 5 theatre productions, 2 videos, 20 photojournalists, 2 Pothochitrosâ€Ś Vinay Jahu, 25, and Hubb Dekkers, 22, took bicycles from Calcutta to New Delhi with a mission to save the planet. TCP India speaks to the man behind this crazy plan, to find out where he gets his inspiration. TCP India: First off, can you give our readers a little background about yourself? How did you get so passionate about the environment? Vinay: I grew up in Calcutta but have travelled all over from Bombay to Jaipur and recently Australia. I went on to Australia after graduation to work as a Financial Analyst for GE. This is when I got into Climate Change. They have many organizations there that are focused on the environment. I became quite active with a community group and we worked with organizations like Greenpeace Australia and Climate Action Kugi. We used to organise actions and events and I started travelling around the country to help organise movements and attend conferences. TCP India: Where did the idea for a cross country cycle ride come from? Vinay: My group in Australia tried to put together a Climate Action cycle ride from Sydney to Canberra, but it didn't work out because of safety issues etc. This is where I got the inspiration for the cycle ride in India. I knew here security constrains would not be as strict! I had focused most of my action work on the coal industry in Australia and was frustrated there was no talk about coal in India. When I came back home I decided I wanted to focus on this.
TCP India: So your Climate Ride was to focus on the coal industry in India? Vinay: Yes, recently I started an organization called Why New Coal. It stemmed from an earlier organization I put together with my friends Ektha Kothari and Hubb Dekkers called Switch On. We would go around to schools and communities and make presentations about Climate Change. India's social cost for coal is probably the most massive in the world. The government line is that coal resources will be around for the next 150-200 years. But this is not true because the extractable coal is really not that much. Much of our coal is under dense forests or residential places, so you can't get to it and it is very deep. The extractable coal will really only last 30-40 years. We are already importing a great deal of coal from abroad (mainly Australia), and soon we will have to import even more. Energy from coal is said to cost around Rs. 7 a kilowatt. However, if you look at the real price to coal it would be closer to Rs. 11-14 per kilowat, which is comparable to renewable. This includes the social cost of coal- health and land. That is just today, not including when we really have to import all of it. If we start pricing it correctly than renewable energy will really get a boost.
Vinay: I was surprised that most of the experts and politicians I met understand the climate urgency. These people really understand that India has an energy crisis and although they may say that India must depend on coal, they actually really know that it is not possible. They are very disillusioned and confused. TCP India: How about the cycle ride? It must have been very challenging! Vinay: It was amazing! It was just Hubb and me. We would cycle about 6-7 hours a day, starting at 6 am and finish by 6pm, with loads of breaks in the middle. We stopped in coal rich states and visited all these coal communities. We documented everything through film because Ekta is a filmmaker. We are working on the documentary now. We slept in dhabas and chatted with truck drivers in the evenings. None of them could understand what we were doing and what climate change was. Most of them thought I was a tour guide for Hubb since he is from the Netherlands.
For more information about Vinay and his work check out: www.whynewcoal.com
TCPIâ€™s one-year anniversary th
TCP India: On your Climate Ride, I know that you were visiting coal plants, meeting with members of government, and basically looking into alternatives. What did you learn? Vinay: When we were looking at alternatives, we saw the efficiency that India can achieve is incredible. Our main problem with coal plants is that they are inefficient. We can increase efficiency by 25%. That is just using the same coal and not building new plants or digging up more. Solar is really the solution. With the current technology we can achieve 700,000 MW - the planning commission has asked for 8% of energy to come from solar sources by 2031, meaning we will have to increase by 5 times. 800 can be achieved with our current solar technologies. The initial cost of solar is what is pushing people back, but this is because we don't look at the true cost of coal. TCP India: Did you learn anything that really surprised you?
TCPI completed one year in India on 15 March, 2009. To celebrate our one-year anniversary and the launch of the Environment Sustainability Leadership Program, we will gather in Delhi on Friday, April 17, 2009, at 6.30 pm at the Meattle residence at 26, Prithviraj Road, New Delhi. We hope to see you there.
Tech Corner Synergies between Climate Change and Air Pollution: Impacts on Forest Ecosystems The impacts of air pollution and climate change on forest ecosystems have traditionally been dealt with separately. However, recently, there has been an emergent understanding that climate change and air pollution are interlinked and that they interact with one another. Effects of air pollution and climate change on forest ecosystems are of a diverse kind and vary from physiological to morphological and
phenological. Also, depending on the interacting components and the nature of interaction, the impacts can be additive, synergistic, or antagonistic. Table: Likely Impacts of air pollution and climate change on forests Parameters Likely Impacts Increased CO2 Less stomatal conductance concentration leading to less pollutant influx Increase in carbon reserve (due to increase in biomass) for defense and repair, leading to less impact of air pollutant injury Increase in leaf area canopy leading to increased exposure to pollutants like nitric acid (Climate change can exacerbate the problem of acidification) Chronic exposure to pollutants Increase in temperature Pollutant interactions
Tropospheric Ozone (pollutant; contributes to climate change)
Decrease in stress tolerance ability of the plant Increase in carbon assimilation capacity Increase in CO2 promotes growth while increase in SO2 prevents growth Increase in N-deposition increases the carbon sequestration ability Increased ozone levels tend to suppress the carbon sequestration process Phytotoxicity to plants, suppression of carbon sequestration
The table illustrates the possible impacts of interaction between air pollutants and climate change associated phenomena and there are still many other impacts, which are not fully documented like effect on soil dynamics, the hydrological and carbon cycle; which are often exacerbated by climate change phenomena. In India, there is a diversity of forest ecosystems found in differing soil and climatic conditions. The interactions between the pollutants and the likely effect of global warming and climate change are very complex and there are a number of gaps in the understanding of the subject matter.
Firstly, it is very difficult to assess and quantify the relationships due to complexity in synergy and interactions. Secondly, any results, even if indirectly computed will be highly location specific and with a lot of uncertainty. What remains to be seen is whether such a study is reasonable in Indian scenario and how the results can be incorporated in the policy or legal framework to ensure reduced impacts on the much diverse forest ecosystems of India. REFERENCES: Bytnerowicz, A, Omasa, K and Paoletti, E (2007), ‘Integrated effects of air pollution and climate change on forests: A northern hemisphere perspective’, Environmental Pollution, 147, 438-445. Ravindranathan, NH, Joshi, NV, Sukumar, R & Saxena, A (2006), ‘Impact of climate change on forests in India’, Current Science, 90(3), 354-360.
The Tech Corner will be written by Pallavi Pant every month. Pallavi is a Masters Students at TERI University.
President Prathibha Patil pushes for green brigade. . Maharashtra will soon have a green brigade, involving college students across the state. The decision to form the brigade to save environment and mitigate effects of climate change has come after an initiative by Satpuda Foundation, an NGO working for forest and wildlife conservation in central India, supported by president Pratibha Patil. In response to a letter by Kishor Rithe, president of the NGO, Patil has asked the government of Maharashtra to launch the Green Brigade programme involving college students. The president's office has written a letter to the chief secretary of Maharashtra to initiate action in this regard. "I had written to the president on October 1 last year, requesting to start a national green brigade comprising college students to fight the problems of climate change. Youths can play a pivotal role in environment protection," said Rithe. In the letter, Rithe mentioned that the country needs to be more worried about food and water security in the present climate change situation. "Wildlife reserves in the country play an important role to provide food and water security to the nation. These planetary
infrastructures also help us fight the climate change situation," said Rithe. State government officials have initiated the process of forming the green brigade and its blue print will be ready soon.
trees. Tips on using water sparingly and recycling water were given to the residents.
TCPI launches the Environment Sustainability Leadership Program for Teachers. th
On February 28 2009, TCPI launched the Environment Sustainability Leadership Program at Campion School, Mumbai. This program aims to equip teachers with inspiring and comprehensive tools for the teaching of environmental subjects, especially in relation to climate change. Through inspired teachers we hope to create student leadership on tackling environmental issues. The event was well attended and received extremely positive feedback. On April 17 TCPI, will launch the program in Delhi at Sanskriti School and subsequently in Ajmer at Mayo College for Girls on April 20, 2009.
Bollywood Bad-Man Gulshan Grover and TCPI come together to save water on World Water Day. On the morning of 22nd March, on the occasion of World Water Day, TCPI and Mr. Gulshan Grover visited a residential colony in Mumbai. He addressed the media and a team of volunteers in his typical evergreen baritone and spoke about water wastage, water scarcity & importance of water & tree conservation. Mr. Grover then went to peopleâ€™s homes with a group of plumbers and volunteers (child actors from his upcoming movie Zor Lagaa ke Haiya), rang the bell and asked, â€œdo you have a leaking tap in your house?'' When the answer was affirmative, a plumber fixed the tap while the volunteers educated them about the importance of saving water and
Here are some tips: 1. Wash vegetables in a container instead of under running water. 2. Don't let water run while shaving/ washing your face or brushing your teeth. 3. Water lawns during the early morning hours when temperatures and wind speed are the lowest. This reduces losses from evaporation. 4. Consider buying a front load washing machine. They generally use less water than top loaders. 5. Make sure your hot water system thermostat is not set too high. Adding cold water to cool very hot water is wasteful.
TCPI bids farewell to Anjuli Pundit and welcomes three new team members. It is with regret we announce that Anjuli Pandit will be moving on from TCP India after giving the cause a year of hard work and enthusiasm. Many of you will be very familiar with Anjuli as she has been the primary contact between ourselves and the presenter community. During her time with TCP India, Anjuli organised major events such as the play on the life of Rachel Carson and was the force behind our monthly newsletter, not to mention the numerous office duties and website tasks she managed behind the scenes. She was also an instrumental part of our new Teacher Leadership program that we have launched this year. We are of course sad to see her leave but know that bigger and brighter things await her. On behalf of the TCP team worldwide and the Indian presenter community, we wish to thank her for her work and
wish her the best for the future. Anjuli remains an enthusiastic supporter of TCPI's goals and we look forward to having her as part of our presenter community. While we are sad to see Anjulii go, we are also extremely excited to have three dynamic new team members: Anokhi Parikh, Deputy Director Anokhi studied Economics & Biology at UC Berkeley and holds a Masters in Development Economics from Oxford University. Prior to joining TCP India she spent three years in South Africa, where she worked on health, water rights and access to basic services. Supriya Rao, Project Manager Supriya studied Economics & Statistics at St. Xavierâ€™s College, Mumbai University after which she worked with Standard Chartered Bank. While in college, she taught under-privileged children English at Sujaya Foundation. At TCPI she is involved with the Teacher Training Program. Jaspreet Arora, Analyst Jaspreet studied English from Gauhati University, Assam and is currently pursuing a post-graduate diploma in Environment & Sustainable Development. Prior to joining TCP India she worked with Nature First, where she assisted with creating ecological stability models for corporations.