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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 24th, 2016
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Carbon dioxide is invisible and odorless. Dawn Stover wonders: What if we could see carbon pollution in the air and water?

Seeing (pollution) is believing: ow.ly/YHEtd

Janice Sinclaire
Communications Director

Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
1155 East 60th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
U.S.A.
T. 773.382.8061
C. 707.481.9372
F. 773.980.6932E.
 jsinclaire at thebulletin.org

—————————————————–

23 February 2016,

SEEING (POLLUTION) IS BELIEVING.

by Dawn Stover — stover.jpeg

of The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. IT IS THREE MINUTES TO MIDNIGHT!
Stover is a science writer based in the Pacific Northwest and is a contributing editor at the Bulletin.

The snow has melted along the roads in my rural community, revealing a surprising number of beer cans, plastic bottles, and other trash in the roadside ditches. This is a sparsely populated area, yet I drive past mile after mile of terrestrial flotsam and jetsam. Most of it, I suspect, is jetsam—the stuff that is deliberately thrown overboard.

It probably won’t be long before some disgusted (or enterprising) neighbors start tackling this mess. Most of the cans and bottles can be redeemed for a five-cent deposit or put into bags for free curbside recycling. The worst thing about this roadside pollution is also the best thing about it: We can see it. That makes it easy to clean up.

Imagine if carbon pollution was as recognizable as a Bud Light can. What if, every time you started up your car or boarded an airplane or sliced into a Porterhouse steak, a sour-smelling beer can was ejected from your vehicle or pocket? Pretty soon there would be cans lining every highway and tarmac, and coal-fired power plants would literally be buried under them. But even this foul onslaught of aluminum might be less damaging than the 40 billion metric tons of heat-trapping carbon dioxide (plus other greenhouse gases) that humans are dumping into Earth’s atmosphere and oceans every year, raising the temperature of our planet. Unfortunately, carbon dioxide is invisible and odorless, which makes it easier to ignore. If we were dumping 40 billion metric tons of aluminum into the air and sea annually—the equivalent of 2,800 trillion beverage cans—surely we would do something about that.

Air quality alert. One of the reasons China is getting serious about clean energy is that the air pollution in Beijing, Shanghai, and other Chinese cities has become intolerable at times. The visibility gets so poor that flights are sometimes canceled because of smog, and residents are frequently forced to don masks when venturing outdoors—where the air quality can be worse than an airport smoking lounge. The pollution sometimes reaches all the way to California.

“The air in Los Angeles used to be like Beijing,” a California-based colleague recently reminded me. Los Angeles still has some of the most contaminated air in the United States, but the situation has improved significantly since 1970—when President Richard Nixon created the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and Congress passed the first of several major amendments to the Clean Air Act, empowering the federal government to regulate air pollutants.

The EPA’s new Clean Power Plan—announced in 2015 but challenged in court by 27 states and currently on hold pending a judicial review—would do for carbon pollution what the Clean Air Act did for smog in an earlier era. This time around, though, many elected officials can’t see what the problem is. Literally.

Making the invisible visible. Instead of implementing a carbon tax or federal limits on power-plant emissions, maybe we just need to add a smelly dye to all fossil fuels—something like the red colorant that is added to fire retardants so that pilots can see where they have sprayed, or the rotten-egg-like chemical that is injected into natural gas so that homeowners can detect gas leaks before they become life-threatening. Instead of subjecting airlines to proposed new emissions limits, we’d simply see a hideous red contrail every time an airplane flew overhead. Standing on the beach, we’d see a red tide—the carbon dioxide absorbed by the North Atlantic alone has doubled in the past decade. And the smell of the recent enormous methane leak from a ruptured pipeline in southern California would pale in comparison to the collective stench emitted by fracking operations and thousands of fossil-fuel-burning power plants. On the plus side, we’d be able to see trees and other plants sucking up carbon, which might make us think twice about turning forests into pallets.

This is only a thought experiment, of course. We shouldn’t have to go to these lengths to realize that the byproducts of fossil fuel combustion are bad for our health. Most of us know better than to breathe from our car’s tailpipe or leave the garage door shut with the engine running. That’s how you kill yourself, after all. And yet we think nothing of dumping copious amounts of exhaust into the air that everyone breathes. It’s out of sight and out of mind.

Turning a blind eye. Although greenhouse gas emissions aren’t visible, their climate impacts are. It’s not hard to see melting glaciers, wilted crops, and storm surges—or to find photographs, charts, and other images showing how quickly our planet is changing. And yet, as President Barack Obama remarked during a press conference on February 16, “There’s not a single candidate in the Republican primary that thinks we should do anything about climate change, that thinks it’s serious.” That’s a problem, said Obama, because other countries “count on the United States being on the side of science and reason and common sense.”

How can Marco Rubio not see the impacts of rising sea level in Florida? How did Donald Trump miss the meaning of Hurricane Sandy, a bellwether for the type of extreme events that scientists say will become more common and more severe as global warming continues? Where was Ted Cruz when Texas was enduring devastating heat, drought, and wildfires—or the deadly floods that followed? All of the GOP candidates, including self-professed climate change “believer” John Kasich, are turning a blind eye to the decades of scientific research that place the blame squarely on human activities, and it’s possible that even a putrid red haze would not move them.

There will always be some people who are willfully ignorant and inconsiderate and lazy, who toss their trash out the window and leave it for others to pick up. The rest of us can stand around shaking our heads, or we can pull on our gloves and do something about this dreadful mess. Unfortunately, the past two centuries’ worth of carbon dioxide emissions is like a heap of discarded cans and bottles that are already hopelessly bent, broken, and ground into the mud. This carbon buildup will have consequences for Earth’s climate and sea level for tens of thousands of years to come.

That’s no excuse to put off spring cleaning, though. Climate change is largely irreversible on human time scales, but rapid and aggressive action would keep the worst impacts of global warming to a minimum. It’s more important than ever to make drastic reductions in carbon dumping, and get serious about reforestation and other cleanup measures. These are the Bud Light cans we can still get our hands on.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 23rd, 2016
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

from: Umang Jalan  umang at cseindia.org via lists.iisd.ca

In the last few years, countries like India that import a majority of their oil, have made considerable gains in reducing their fiscal and trade deficits. In India, the low prices have afforded the government an opportunity to decrease subsidies and increase excise duties on major crude oil distillates i.e. diesel and petrol. These increases in excise duties have been classified by the government as a progressive carbon tax. The revenue from the increased excise duty was estimated at around Rs. 70, 000 crores (US$ 10 Billion) for FY2015-16 in last year’s budget. However, oil prices have since gone down further and various increases in excise duty have been announced, which will increase this revenue. It would be interesting to note whether this year’s budget has provisions for spending this revenue in a climate-aware manner.

According to the government, there is a de-facto “carbon tax” on petrol and diesel at US$ 140 (per tonne of CO2) and US$ 64 respectively. This is much higher than the internationally agreed price of carbon—US$ 25-35. The increase in excise duty however has not led to any measurable reduction in demand from FY2014-15 levels, as they have been coupled with a corresponding reduction in global oil prices—keeping the net price of petrol and diesel low. This begs the question—will such a tax survive an eventual increase in oil prices?

The revenue from the carbon tax has also not been spent in a climate-aware manner. For example, a portion of the excise duty has been allocated as road cess. This could perhaps be used to modify urban mobility in a more sustainable manner, by improving public transport. This is part of a larger pattern of government expenditure, that does not take into account the systemic changes that would be needed to move to a low-carbon, climate-resilient economy.

Tax on Carbon to Carbon Tax

According to the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, India has the 17th highest climate risk index in the world between 1994 and 2013. In recent times, there has been a significant increase in the frequency and intensity of climate-related events in India. Although all of these cannot be directly attributed to climate change, the trend of increasing climate impacts is something the government should take notice of and act upon. The following are a few ways in which government expenditure can be made climate-aware:

As mentioned above, investment in transport-related infrastructure can take into account its long-term health and demographic impacts. A focus of transport spending in road infrastructure although important should be complemented with expenditures on improving the quality and scale of the country’s urban public transport systems.

In light of the high climate risk reported in the above study and the recent increase in frequency and intensity of extreme weather events seen in India, expenditure on risk reduction activities like early warning systems should be increased. Such funding could be focused towards areas that are particularly prone to such events. Such expenditure would include more efficient use and dissemination of meteorological data through awareness initiatives and better communication infrastructure.

There can be changes to the trade policy to include favourable trade terms for low carbon goods and technologies. The methods and infrastructure available for evaluating goods and technologies that would be eligible for such terms could be established and streamlined. Perhaps, there could be better co-ordination between organisations like the Indian Patent Office (IPO), which also seeks to expedite patent queries for green technologies (as part of the new national Intellectual Property Rights policy) in identifying eligible technologies.

Similar expenditures have been listed in India’s recently submitted Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC), which estimates that India will need US$ 206 billion (at FY2014-15 prices) between 2015 and 2030 for implementing adaptation actions in agriculture, forestry, fisheries infrastructure, water resources and ecosystems. Perhaps, India can use the “good fortune” of extended periods of low global oil prices to compensate for some of these expenses.

The article was published on www.downtoearth.org.in/blog/all-t…

Regards

Umang Jalan

———————————-
Umang Jalan
Research Associate
Climate Change Programme
Centre for Science and Environment
41, Tughlaqabad Institutional Area
New Delhi-India
Mob:9818610944

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 12th, 2016
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace is a unique global network of policy research centers in Russia, China, Europe, the Middle East, and the United States. Our mission, dating back more than a century, is to advance the cause of peace through analysis and development of fresh policy ideas and direct engagement and collaboration with decisionmakers in government, business, and civil society. Working together, these centers bring the inestimable benefit of multiple national viewpoints to bilateral, regional, and global issues.

Looking out their Washington DC Headquarter’s window and reviewing data about the global economy and expected future growth, the Carnegie Endowment leaders – formerly an all male Anglo-Saxon bunch – discovered finally America’s India.

Policy Centers or Think Tanks for Africa and Latin America are not in the cards for the foreseeable future.

WASHINGTON—The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace announced today that Carnegie India, its sixth international center, will open in April 2016.

Based in New Delhi, Carnegie India will produce high-quality public policy research about critical national, regional, and global issues. As with Carnegie’s centers in Beijing, Beirut, Brussels, Moscow, and Washington, Carnegie India will be staffed and led by local experts who will collaborate extensively with colleagues around the world.


The center’s research and programmatic focus will include the political economy of reform in India, foreign and security policy, and the role of innovation and technology in India’s internal transformation and international relations. It will build on decades of scholarship on India and South Asia across Carnegie’s programs, in particular the work of Vice President for Studies George Perkovich, Senior Associate Ashley J. Tellis, and Associate Milan Vaishnav, while placing special emphasis on developing a cadre of young, up-and-coming Indian scholars.

C. Raja Mohan will serve as the founding director of Carnegie India. Mohan has been a nonresident senior associate at Carnegie since 2012, as well as a distinguished fellow at the Observer Research Foundation in New Delhi, and a visiting research professor at the Institute of South Asian Studies, National University of Singapore. He also served as a member of India’s National Security Advisory Board. From 2009 to 2010, Mohan was the Henry Alfred Kissinger Chair in Foreign Policy and International Relations at the U.S. Library of Congress. Previously, he was a professor of South Asian studies at the Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi and the Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore. He is a columnist for the Indian Express and previously worked as the diplomatic editor and Washington correspondent of the Hindu.

“I am deeply honored to serve as the center’s founding director and to work even more closely with longtime Carnegie colleagues across the world. I look forward to the center contributing to India’s rich intellectual tradition through the in-depth, nonpartisan research of our scholars,” Mohan said. “I am confident that Carnegie India will add to Carnegie’s global reputation for quality, integrity, and independence.”

Shivnath Thukral will serve as Carnegie India’s managing director. He was group president of corporate branding and strategic initiatives at Essar, a $35 billion corporation. He spent fifteen years as a TV anchor and business analyst for India’s premier English TV news channel New Delhi Television, and was managing editor of the business television news channel NDTV Profit. A graduate of the Delhi School of Economics, he interned at the U.S. Senate and was awarded the Eisenhower Fellowship in 2012.


The center’s creation has been supported by Carnegie India’s Founders Committee, a group of Indian and international donors co-chaired by former cabinet secretary and Indian ambassador to the United States, Naresh Chandra, and former United States ambassador to India, Frank Wisner.


“On behalf of the entire Founders Committee, we want to congratulate Carnegie on the formal launch of Carnegie India,” said ambassadors Chandra and Wisner. “India—with its strategic partnership with the United States and its growing role in the Asia-Pacific and around the world—is a significant development on the international landscape and a natural area of focus for Carnegie.”

President of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Williams J. Burns, said, “We are very proud to add Carnegie India to Carnegie’s network of international centers. We are especially proud to have Raja Mohan serve as its founding director and grateful for the generous support of our donors and Founders Committee members that made this milestone possible.”

Press Contact: Clara Hogan | +1 202 939 2233 |  chogan at ceip.org

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 7th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Let us be honest – we never expected that elusive magic the UN was chasing for 20 years – a meaningful – fit for all – agreement for action backed by consensus of 195 members of UNFCCC. Now we expect it even less because the world is changed by much since the signing of the UN Convention on Climate Change in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. Back then the UN was divided into Developed or industrialized countries and those starting their development only and at their head China. Now many of those Developing Countries are among the richest countries in the world but still think that the divisions of 1992 ought to continue like the UN fiction of regions that still looks at eastern Europe as a unified block of Soviet led Nations.

How can you accept as a unit the new “Like Minded Group” that is led by China, India, and Saudi Arabia talking for a passe Developing block? China is in effect a most advanced country trying now to replace the coal-based energy system that it not only into a largely industrialized country with a respectable middle-class that demands it reduce pollution, an India that is slowly moving ahead to pass China and insists on his right to pollute in order to get there. and the Saudis and other Gulf States that still think that the right to sell oil is god-given. Then you have the Island States that look into the abyss and know all these others would just sacrifice them then change.

The first week in Paris was taken by the 150 Heads of State that came to make their Statements in two parallel plenaries and had their entourage look at the documents put before them – the 50 page draft hammered out in New York and Bonn – reduced it by some 20 pages and added 17 new pages. A French Presidency decision had them terminate the peruse of the document by Saturday night. The resulted 48 page text was deemed by the media as a victory – an agreed text. But what agreement? It has 900 square brackets marking disagreements on everything that matters. Civil Society was practically eliminated at Paris. At first by the strictness of the Le Bourget airport site and then reinforced by the oil money funded act of terror against modern life that also put at a stand-still the NGOs that had intended to come to Paris to demonstrate their push for the clear need to stop field fossil carbon in the atmosphere – the reason for the Global Warming/Climate Change series of events that can ultimately make the planet inhospitable to life the way we got used to. Yes – we say this all the time – it is oil money from oil interests that is the root cause to our problems – it is this perception that the economy must be based on fossil carbon and the blindness to the truth that reliance on current solar energy can replace this self imposed reliance on banked solar energy.

So, now starts the second week with a slew of new people at Le Bourget. The ministers/politicians come to work on that draft that was left over from last week. Can there be an agreement among them? Can they paper over their differences by coming up with a meaningless consensus paper? To make things worse, it seems that most countries sent over now their ministers of the environment to accompany Foreign Service diplomats. But for truth sake – we had already all needed evidence from the scientists that the danger to the environment was made clear – but in these 20 years we learned as well that the handicaps stem from economic and social conditions – these other two components of the Sustainable Development tripod designed in Rio in 1992 and left on the sidelines while the oil folks were attacking the scientific evidence in an effort to undermine the true scientists evidence with the help of paid-for pseudo-scientists belonging to sects like the US Republicans and the oil-led Chambers of Commerce everywhere. We say – add to this the sponsored insurgency that is timed to take our mind away of the global disaster that starts from the melting of the ice at poles and mountain tops.

Are we pessimistic? Not at all! The diplomats and politicians will come up with some cover document to wrap the real achievement of the Paris2015 COP21. That is the collection of single country commitments that have already been deposited with the Conference French Presidency last week. We have no final number for the States that presented these commitments but we know this was not universal – neither was it transparent. Some may yet be moved to add to the pile further papers. Eventually the UNFCCC secrecy on this will be lifted. It is possible that this week there will be made an effort to decide upon the verification of progress towards these commitments. But don’t hold your breath. If the commitments are not universal – it is possible those that mean indeed to live up to their commitments will later suggest an organization and methods for measuring results. No hurry on this. Politics might be in the way – but nevertheless – this is a great achievement of this year’s conference and the parallel SDGs the true catalyst to action.

We hope to start positive reporting after this week is over. We are aware as well that Climate Change will take a back seat to the “Fight-Terrorism” aspect of what we consider to be joint topics by nature of how they were funded.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 4th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


India Unveils Global Solar Alliance of 120 Countries at Paris Climate Summit
.

Narendra Modi announces a new alliance of nations and industry on large-scale expansion of solar energy use in the tropics and beyond.

Reported from Paris by Arthur Neslen / The Guardian
December 4, 2015

India’s prime minister has launched an international solar alliance of over 120 countries with the French president, François Hollande, at the Paris COP21 climate summit.


Narendra Modi told a press conference that as fossil fuels put the planet in peril, hopes for future prosperity in the developing world now rest on bold initiatives.


“Solar technology is evolving, costs are coming down and grid connectivity is improving,” he said. “The dream of universal access to clean energy is becoming more real. This will be the foundation of the new economy of the new century.”

Modi described the solar alliance as “the sunrise of new hope, not just for clean energy but for villages and homes still in darkness, for mornings and evening filled with a clear view of the glory of the sun”.

Earlier, France’s climate change ambassador, Laurence Tubiana, had called the group “a true game-changer”.

While signatory nations mostly hail from the tropics, several European countries are also on board with the initiative, including France.

Hollande described the project as climate justice in action, mobilizing public finance from richer states to help deliver universal energy access.

“What we are putting in place is an avant garde of countries that believe in renewable energies,” he told a press conference in Paris. “What we are showing here is an illustration of the future Paris accord, as this initiative gives meaning to sharing technology and mobilizing financial resources in an example of what we wish to do in the course of the climate conference.”


The Indian government is investing an initial $30m (£20m) in setting up the alliance’s headquarters in India. The eventual goal is to raise $400m from membership fees, and international agencies.


Companies involved in the project include Areva, Engie, Enel, HSBC France and Tata Steel.

“It is very, very exciting to see India nailing its colours to the mast and providing leadership on this issue,” said James Watson, the director of SolarPower Europe, which represents the continents’ solar photovoltaic industry. “It will mean more opportunities for solar across the world and that can only be positive for combating climate change.”

The UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, placed the initiative in the context of the body’s sustainable development goals, particularly a related target, set in 2011, of achieving universal access to sustainable energy by 2030.

India has repeatedly said that it wants to use cheap solar to connect citizens who are currently without access to the electricity grid in remote and rural areas.

“The idea is that larger markets and bigger volumes will lead to lower costs, making it possible to spur demand,” said Ajay Mathur, India’s senior negotiator and spokesperson at the Paris summit.

“This bold effort could bring affordable solar power to tropical villages and communities worldwide,” said Jennifer Morgan, the director of the World Research Institute’s climate programme.

India’s pledge to the Paris summit offered to draw 40% of its electricity from renewables by 2030. The country is projected to be the world’s most populous by then, with 1.45 billion people.

Climate Action Tracker described the promise as being “at the least ambitious end of what would be a fair contribution”, and not consistent with meeting a 2C target.

But some see Modi as a clean energy enabler, having rapidly rolled out more than 900MW of solar energy across Gujaratwhen he was chief minister there.

“India has emerged as the natural leader for this alliance, with its ambitious targets to install 175GW of renewable energy by 2022,” said Arunabha Ghosh, chief executive of the Council for Energy, Environment and Water in India.

Modi’s announcement on Monday comes hot on the heels of a pledge by the US and 18 other countries to provide $20bn for clean energy research by 2020, a doubling of current funding commitments.

————————————————

A separate Breakthrough Energy Coalition, which will act as an investment platform for clean energy projects, is also being launched on Monday by Bill Gates and the Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg.

On Sunday, Dubai announced a Dh100bn ($27bn) programme to make solar panels mandatory for all rooftop buildings by 2030, part of a plan to make the city a global clean energy centre.

Dubai aims to generate 25% of its energy from clean sources by 2030, rising to 75% by 2050.

The Indian initiative, called the International Agency for Solar Technologies and Applications (Iasta), aims to spread cheap solar technology across the globe with pooled policy knowledge.

“We share a collective ambition to undertake innovative and concerted efforts aimed at reducing the costs of financing and urgent technological deployment for competitive solar facilities throughout our country,” a membership statement by the alliance says.

It adds that the alliance will “pave the way for production technologies and storage of solar energy, adapted to the specific needs of our country”.

——————————
Arthur Neslen is the Europe environment correspondent at the Guardian. He has previously worked for the BBC, the Economist, Al Jazeera, and EurActiv, where his journalism won environmental awards.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 5th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

China-US / Politics, September 5-6, 2015
ON THE ROAD TO PARIS 2015.
Updated: 2015-09-05 02:54
By Amy He(China Daily USA)
Contact the writer at  amyhe at chinadailyusa.com
 usa.chinadaily.com.cn/us/2015-09/…

People attended the UN Climate Change COP20 in Lima in December 2014.
France will host this year’s conference, COP 21, also known as “Paris 2015”, from Nov 30 to Dec 11.

COP21 will seek to achieve a new international agreement on the climate, applicable to all countries, with the aim of keeping global warming below 2°Celsius.


Chinese President Xi Jinping’s state visit to the United States this month is expected to include further talks with US President Barack Obama on climate change as the world’s two biggest polluting countries prepare for a UN-led conference in Paris in December to reach a global climate agreement, AMY HE reports from New York.


Supporters of the deal called it a “game-changer”, “this century’s most significant agreement”.
The news headlines called it “historic” and “ambitious”.

And the opposition, mainly Republicans in the US Congress, labeled it “terrible”, said it “changes nothing” and was a “waste of time.”

But everyone was in agreement on one word: “unexpected”. The agreement announced on Nov 11, 2014, in Beijing by US President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping to cut greenhouse emissions surprised the world.

Worked out after months of quiet negotiations and a letter from Obama to Xi proposing a joint approach, the agreement called for the United States to cut its 2005 level of carbon emissions by 26 percent to 28 percent before 2025. China would peak its carbon emissions by 2030, and will also aim to get 20 percent of its energy from zero-carbon emission sources by the same year.

The agreement amounted to an announcement to the world and to the nearly 200 other countries that will meet in Paris at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in December: The world’s two biggest polluters were committed to climate change.

All countries attending the talks are to present to the UN their own plans for curbing greenhouse-gas emissions. The goal is to put the world on track to cap global average temperatures at no more than 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels.

Though congressional approval is not needed for the Obama-Xi agreement, when it was announced, congressional Republicans criticized the deal and Democrats praised it.

Republican Senator James M. Inhofe, a leading global warming skeptic, called the pledges by Obama and Xi “hollow and not believable”.

Governor Jerry Brown of California, a Democrat, took aim at critics of efforts to reach climate-change agreements, saying at a climate summit in Toronto in July: “There are a lot of people out there who don’t get it. They’re asleep. They’re on the Titanic, and they’re drinking champagne, and they’re about to crash.”

THE US PLAN:

At the end of March, the US submitted its plan to the United Nations to combat climate change. The US repeated its goal to cut emissions by 26 to 28 percent from 2005 levels, making best efforts to achieve 28 percent cuts by 2025.

It committed the country to doubling the pace of carbon pollution reduction from 1.2 percent a year on average between 2005 to 2020 to 2.3 to 2.8 percent between 2020 and 2025.

“This ambitious target is grounded in intensive analysis of cost-effective carbon pollution reductions achievable under existing law and will keep the United States on the pathway to achieve deep economy-wide reductions of 80 percent or more by 2050,” it said in a release about the plan.

The World Resources Institute praised the US plan, saying that it shows that the country is ready to lead on the climate and through its proposed steps will be able to save money and grow its economy.

“This is a serious and achievable commitment. WRI research finds that under its existing federal authority, the United States can reach its proposed target to cut emissions 26 to 28 percent from 2005 levels by 2025,” said Jennifer Morgan, global director of the climate program at WRI.


THE CHINA PLAN:

On June 30, China submitted its climate change goals to the UN, setting a new, loftier goal for energy efficiency.

The plan said that by 2030, the carbon intensity of China’s economy would fall by 60 to 65 percent compared with 2005. It previously had said 40 to 45 percent by 2020. And it said it would increase its share of non-fossil fuel in energy consumption to about 20 percent, and increase forest stock volume by 4.5 billion cubic meters compared to 2005 levels. “A one-thousand-mile journey starts from the first step,” China said in its INDC (intended nationally determined contributions).

Environmental advocates welcomed the development as the latest sign of China’s determination to clean up its energy sector, backing away from coal and favoring wind and solar power.

“China is largely motivated by its strong national interests to tackle persistent air pollution problems, limit climate impacts and expand its renewable energy job force,” said Jennifer Morgan of the World Resources Institute.

The Obama administration praised China’s plan, saying it “helps to provide continued momentum” toward reaching a climate agreement in December.

And on Aug 28, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon lauded China’s efforts to address climate problems.

“China has already taken a hugely important global championing leadership,” he said. “Together with the United States last year, it has [made] a historic, huge impact-giving statement,” he said in a meeting with Chinese media representatives at UN headquarters.

Climate change experts interviewed by China Daily said that China’s climate goals are realistic and achievable, and said its plan was a significant step for the country and for the Paris climate negotiations.

Solidifying their goal to peak emissions is an “extremely constructive step,” said Joanna Lewis, associate professor of science and technology at Georgetown University. “I think the pledges they reported are all aggressive and will be challenging to meet each in their own way.”

Shuiyan Tang, professor of public administration at the University of Southern California’s Sol Price School of Public Policy, said, “In a way, you might say that China has a stronger national consensus about environmental protection — and even carbon emission — than in the US.

“In the US, there are a lot of conservative Republicans who almost wouldn’t even want to admit climate change,” Tang said. “So in this sense, China is stronger in terms of coming to a national consensus.”

The Paris discussions will be particularly important because it will be the first time in 20 years that all the nations in the world will strive to reach a universal agreement on post-2020 climate action.

Leading up to the Paris talks are many other meetings that will include discussions between heads of state and finance ministers. The most prominent one will be this month when heads of state attend the UN’s General Assembly meeting where climate change will be on the agenda. Xi will be attending that meeting as part of his official state visit to the US.

POLITICAL CONSENSUS:

“I think the aim of the New York summit is not to get detailed actions from each country, but more to just secure a strong political consensus (from them),” said Haibing Ma, China program manager at the Worldwatch Institute.

“It’s to further build up the momentum to the Paris agreement at the end of the year — it’s not to negotiate. They come here as a symbol and show the world they have this strong commitment and strong willingness to limit carbon emissions in the future. I think it’s more like a universal political gesture than a detailed action plan,” he said.

“Any conversations which can take place in advance of the actual talks is extremely constructive, so that we can avoid any misunderstandings along the lines of what we may have experienced in Copenhagen,” she said. Lewis is referring to the climate talks in 2005 in the European city that failed to yield more than two pages of the Copenhagen Accord, where nations agreed to discuss climate again in the future and to reach a decision then.

“My understanding is President François Hollande and Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will be holding a lunch or dinner with some of the leaders to talk about climate, but I don’t think anyone expects breakthroughs in New York in September on these issues,” Meyer said.

“But because you have so many of these leaders in one place at one time, there’s an opportunity for a lot of bilateral conversations between leaders that can help increase understanding. You’re more likely to get signals coming out of the finance ministers in October or the G20 meeting in November, or some of the gatherings after New York, than you are at the General Assembly,” he added.


INTERNATIONAL COLLABORATION:


During the Paris talks, the experts expect that each country will lay out a detailed climate plan and an estimation of collective global efforts. Worldwatch Institute’s Ma said that more information is expected on the measurement, reporting and verification systems, which are systems that countries have in place to monitor and collect data on carbon emissions.

In addition, further talks are expected on the Green Climate Fund (GFC), a fund within the UNFCCC that collects and distributes money from developed economies to aid in climate efforts of developing economies.

“Among the climate community here, we’re expecting strong progress on the finance side. We expect the Green Climate Fund to be fully operational with a large chunk of money that will be ready to be directed to countries that most need it. We expect to see a clearer text within the agreement on how the developing countries should be supported from the international community,” Ma said.

The Green Climate Fund, which has headquarters in Incheon, South Korea, was established in 2010, with developed countries pledging to raise $100 billion every year by 2020 to help developing countries tackle climate change problems.

Some developing economies, like India, have said that they do not believe the current amounts being generated for the fund are enough to fight climate change.

The US has pledged it will contribute $3 billion to the fund, and 10 other countries have pledged $3 billion toward the fund as well. The fund is expected to be up and running before the Paris talks, according to Ban.

“I think it’s too early to say for sure what will be achieved in Paris, but now that most of the major economies have either already put forth their INDCs or signaled that they’re on the way, that we’re moving in the right direction,” said Georgetown’s Lewis.

Though China’s INDC proposal has been well-received, experts agree that there are challenges ahead.

China said it would peak emissions but did not provide an absolute cap, and instead said it will aim to reduce carbon emission per unit of GDP, meaning that the amount of emissions will fluctuate depending on the economy’s growth.

“From a global carbon budget perspective, it’s hard to know how to score China’s commitment on that front, because you don’t know how the economy is going to perform over the next 15 years. You can make assumptions based on current projected growth rates, but of course there’s no guarantee that those won’t be higher or lower,” Meyer said.

Price’s Tang said that it “makes sense” for a country of China’s size to not focus on absolute total reduction. “You don’t want to impose an absolute amount of reduction — that is not viable, because China simply cannot do that,” he said.

The country said in its INDC that by 2014, carbon emissions per unit of GDP have already been lowered by 33.8 percent compared to 2005 levels.


US STANDARD:


The US, on the other hand, has proposed absolute reduction in its INDC by 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025.

“This is easier for the US to do, because it’s expecting maybe 2 or 3 percent GDP growth for whatever foreseeable future. For them, you’re not talking about a big increase in the total economy, year after year, so it’s easier for them to pledge to achieve total reduction. As long as you increase efficiency for each GDP output unit, you can easily achieve absolute reduction,” Tang said.

Another obstacle that the Chinese government may face is in the enforcement of climate change-related regulation, which is currently set out by the central government but is enforced at the provincial and city levels. Officials who often have to hit economic growth targets as well as environmental ones sometimes prioritize over climate-related ones.

“The most difficult types of regulatory enforcement are really those that are really local in nature. So one example is water pollution. That’s very difficult for the national government to deal with because a lot of it is really local. If you have one really bad factory in the local river system that is polluting everything, then it’s very difficult for Beijing to do anything.

In China, whatever agreements the national government has, at the end of the day, implementation is going to be at the provincial, county, city level,” said Tang, who studies Chinese governance.


Clayton Munnings, research associate at Resources for the Future, said that China’s challenge lies not necessarily in creating policies that will help it peak emissions, but ensuring effective implementation and coordination of policies already in place.

“Seven regions in China now operate cap and trade pilots with the intention of informing the design of a national cap and trade program, slated to launch in 2016,” he told China Daily.

“While local policymakers have done an impressive job in designing and implementing these regional cap and trade markets in a remarkably short amount of time, the pilots risk overallocation of allowances, suffer from low liquidity and have faced difficulties in ensuring compliance.”

A national cap and trade program — a market-based approach used to give economic incentives to those who achieve pollutant reductions — is needed at the national level, Munnings said. Price’s Tang agreed that many of China’s climate policies need to be enforced at the national level, but the nature of the governing system makes that difficult.

“It’s part of the Chinese governance system. China’s system works where one level pushes another level — ultimately it’s not just environmental protection, it’s almost any policy area, it’s the nature of the system where the central government makes policy, sets up targets, and relies on provincial, city and county township governments to do the job,” he said.

Climate experts said that Xi’s state visit to the US will signal US and China’s further bilateral cooperation. It will be another chance for the two presidents to touch base heading into Paris and talk about how the two largest economies and two largest emitters can continue to play a leadership role “as two of the most pivotal countries” making sure that the Paris talks reach a constructive outcome, Georgetown’s Lewis said.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 5th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


In the run-up to Paris2015 Kevin Rudd of the New York based Asia Society argues that “U.S., China, and India Must Lead Together for a Climate Deal in Paris,” Lord Nicholas Stern said that there will be a complete change in what the planet will look like in 100 years from now, and Christiana Figueres said that what countries have prepared for Paris is insufficient, but she hopes that in those 100 coming years they will be more forthcoming.

On August 28, 2015 – on CNN International’s Amanpour – Kevin Rudd, the Asia Society Policy Institute (ASPI) President, discussed the effects of climate change – with Lord Nicholas Stern, chairman of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics, and international climate policy, with Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Noting that projected levels of greenhouse gas emissions would cause average temperatures to rise by three-and-a-half to four degrees Celsius over the next 100 years, Lord Stern said “that is very dangerous territory” that the planet hasn’t seen “for around three million years,” since the end of the last Ice Age.

“These kinds of temperature increases are just enormous and would rewrite where we could live, where the rivers are, where the seashores are, what the weather is like,” said Lord Stern.

The poorest areas of the world would be “hit strongest and earliest,” he added. “Probably most of Southern Europe would look like the Sahara Desert.”


Figueres said that countries’ national climate change plans, which governments have been announcing ahead of the United Nations Conference on Climate Change in Paris this December, will fall short of “where we should be, according to science, to be on the two degree [temperature increase] pathway.”

The resulting gap “will not be filled in Paris,” Figueres said. “It will not be filled in January.”

She noted that the Paris climate agreement “is being constructed, actually, as a progressive effort over a certain period of timeframes, during which countries need, and will be able to, because of increased technology and further capital flows … increase their contribution to the solution.”

Video: Kevin Rudd discusses climate change with Lord Nicholas Stern and Christiana Figueres on CNN International’s Amanpour.

Related Links
Kevin Rudd on CNBC: Don’t Confuse the Chinese Stock Market with Overall Economy
Kevin Rudd in the New York Times: U.S., China, and India Must Lead Together for a Climate Deal in Paris

———–================================================================———–

THE UPDATE – SEPTEMBER 5, 2015


Ms. Christiana Figueres – the Executive Secretary of UNFCCC will end her contract at the end of this year after the conclusion of the Paris 2015 meeting – having guided the organization through all this preparatory years. It is being suggested that her candidacy be submitted for the 2016 selection process for next UN Secretary-General position. She would be the best informed person to lead the UN in the crucial 2017-2026 period when Climate Change and Sustainability become main UN topics under the incoming title from Paris – “Transforming Our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.”

The UN is in need of another period of reform, so it is ‘fit for purpose’ in ensuring that the new Sustainable Development Goals become the agenda of all its organs over the next 15 years.

————————————————————–

UN climate chief: No such thing as ideal pace for pre-Paris talks

By EUOBSERVER
4. Sep, 13:47
 euobserver.com/tickers/130117

UN climate chief Christiana Figueres countered criticism that preliminary talks for a Paris climate treaty were moving too slowly. “There is no such thing as an objective [ideal] pace of negotiations that everyone can agree on”, she said at a press conference Friday after a round of talks in Bonn.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 25th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

We react here to the New York Times Editorial of August 24, 2015 that seemingly wants us to believe that Putin and the Ayatollahs found religion when they heard that 250,000 Arabs were killed in Syria. Really – why should they care?

Let us suggest that “THE DEAL” has turned the interest of Iran to revive its International Banking if the Sanctions are removed – and that is the real driving force that eventually can bring Putin and the Ayatollahs to the table IN EXCHANGE FOR A SAUDI AND THE OTHER GULF STATES OIL EXPORTERS PROMISE TO REDUCE THEIR EXPORTS OF OIL.

YES – the US and the Europeans are driven by humanitarian concepts – the Russians and the Iranians think of the PRICE OF OIL that hit them hard in their economies. The US and the Europeans enjoyed the lowering of the price of oil – based on the high supply figures and a decreasing demand that resulted from GREEN ACTIVITIES – higher efficiency and alternate sources of energy.
But also these two developing energy topics can only benefit from a higher price for oil. So what the heck – let us help the Syrians and save whatever cultural monuments the Islamic State has not destroyed yet. We know that one way or another – the Christian population of Syria and Iraq is doomed and the Lebanese Maronites strive already decades in Brazil like the Iraqi Jews who spread all over the globe – from the Far East to the Far West. But let the enlightened world deal with the problem – and explain to the Saudis that time has come for them to listen to the global woes and do their part by selling less oil !!!

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 22nd, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

From: Sudhir Chella Rajan, Madras, India, August 21, 2015


Chasing Sustainability: A proposal for Paris

Adaptation is about transforming or changing systems and institutions to live in a warmer world. The article advocates that for the poorer countries this makes more sense then develop alternative technologies more appropriate for more developed countries. This also decreases the promise of INDC and then we ask- What are we left with on this path to Paris2015??

by Sujatha Byravan and Sudhir Chella Rajan

In the lead up to the Paris climate conference, an important buzzword in international climate circles is INDCs, the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions that each country needs to commit itself towards as its climate policy. Much of this is tacitly expected to mean a reduction of greenhouse (GHG) gases, or mitigation, rather than adaptation, which is about transforming or changing systems and institutions to live in a warmer world. While we eventually have to reduce emissions to zero in order not to completely destroy the earth’s ecosystems, we also need to learn how to live on a planet that is on average at least about 2-3 degrees Celsius warmer than in pre-industrial times.

Countries in the tropics are expected to experience some of the most harmful effects of climate change with sea level rise, more intense storms, variable precipitation, droughts, and floods. Developing countries, especially those with sizable populations, like India, Indonesia Brazil and Nigeria, have the dual challenge of providing energy services and raising living standards for the poor, while adapting to global warming. Given their large citizenry living in poverty, they also have more people vulnerable to these effects. Adapting to climate change will mean that policy makers use sensible approaches to protecting land, soil, freshwater systems, coastal regions, and livelihoods.

We suggest that all developing countries (what the international community terms ‘non-Annex-1’) should concentrate on sustainable development targets, rather than on mitigating INDCs. This means that they would, for example, focus on reducing air pollution, promote cleaner cooking fuels, plan cities to be more inclusive and require space for non-motorized transportation, and modify agriculture, so that overall productivity, biodiversity, crop yields, health of farm workers and water use are balanced.

Consequences for Rich and Poor

We argue that such a choice by poor countries that lets them tunnel through a pathway from their current growth-focused trajectories to a sustainable development course would by itself reduce greenhouse gases. More importantly, it would also improve the quality of life of millions who may be left behind if governments only applied policies to lower emissions. The Center for Study of Science Technology and Policy (CSTEP) has found this to be true in the case of India in a study expected to be released by the end of the month.

We further believe that if poor countries were forced to accept legally binding commitments to reduce their emissions, they and the rest of us may be led dangerously close to irreversible and abrupt changes involving atmospheric aerosols, land systems, fresh water use, or biogeochemical flows. Johan Rockström and his colleagues have described nine such planetary boundaries as being vital to human life and the biosphere. We are fearful that focusing narrowly through a carbon lens for the entire international community will lock poor countries into unsustainable paths, causing serious breaches to at least some planetary limits while also bypassing the needs of the poor.

With regard to rich countries, however, we propose that the world insists that their contributions be far more ambitious and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50% by 2030 over 2010 levels. Most ethical frameworks that have developed ideas around fair ways of allocating greenhouse gas reduction burdens among countries converge around similar targets for the US and Europe. This is also not far from the projections of the European Council for the EU, but well beyond the US intention of 26-28% reductions below 2005 levels by 2025.

In contrast, Ethiopia, where the World Bank estimates that three-quarters of its people have no electricity connections, has promised in its INDC to reduce its greenhouse gases to a few percent points below its 2010 levels by 2030. Most of its promised efforts are to plant more forests and have better soil management practices. While some of these changes will no doubt be good for its farmers, forest dwellers, land and soil, one must consider that some of the most cost-effective approaches to reduce greenhouse emissions could be harmful to water, soil, land and livelihoods. The question then becomes whether the implementation of a legally binding greenhouse gas target is the best way for Ethiopia to meet its enormous challenges related to energy access, poverty and sustainability.

Finally, with regard to the level of ambition of these arrangements, our preliminary estimates suggest that the strategy we describe could be consistent with a global carbon budget that is adequate for limiting temperature rise to within safe limits. Beyond 2030, once rich countries have developed the technologies and institutions to reduce their own emissions sharply and developing nations have met sustainable development goals, the entire international community could concentrate more fully on mitigation and adaptation to climate change.

Op-Ed Contributors: Sujatha Byravan is Principal Research Scientist in the Center for Study of Science Technology and Policy and Sudhir Chella Rajan is Professor, Humanities and Social Sciences, Indian Institute of Technology, Madras.

A version of this appeared in The Hindu - www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/pl…

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 27th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

70 years after Hiroshima & Nagasaki, Are we smarter? Are we more human? That was the question!
As reported by Ms.Irith Jawetz, July 27, 2015.

An unusual event took place on Tuesday, July 21, 2015 at the OIIP (Austrian Institute for International Politics. In spite of the unusual high temperatures and a very feeble AC, the room was almost full. I will try to present the essence of that event.

The panel included:

- Ms.Judith Brandner, Since 1984 radio journalist and radio producer for Ö1, but also on DRS2, D-RADIO and SWR2.
- Ambassador Alexander Kmentt; Austria’s Director for Arms Control, Nonproliferation, and Disarmament. Ambassador Kmentt has received the highest number of votes in an online poll to determine the “2014 Arms Control Person of the Year.” Nine other worthy candidates were nominated by the staff of the Arms Control Association for their significant achievements and contributions to reducing the threats posed by the world’s most dangerous weapons in the past year.

Ambassador Kmentt, who started his career at the Austrian Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs in 1994 and has been a leading disarmament diplomat for many years, was recognized for organizing the third International Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons, Dec. 8-9, 2014 in Vienna, which drew delegations representing 158 states, the United Nations, and civil society.

- Prof. Heinz Gärtner OIIP, Professor at the University of Vienna, His research priorities include international and European security; US foreign and security policy; Theories of international politics; Developments in world politics; Arms control.

- Hakan Akbulut, Research Assistant at OIIP, Areas of Research: Nuclear proliferation,Turkish foreign and security policy .

The moderator was Fabio Polly, who has been with the Austrian Radio ORF for more than 30 years. He was head of the ORF young journalists training in 1996. Since then, in the radio’s external policy, with temporary interruptions as moderator of various information programs (among others Ö1-journals).

He spent a total of four years as a correspondent in Germany and in the US. Focus of Reporting: international security, disarmament, nuclear weapons and the Middle East; Travel to Afghanistan (Kabul) to Iraq (Baghdad), to South Africa (Johannesburg).

The main concern of all the panelists was that 70 years after the Atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the problem of nuclear weapons has not been solved. Even the reasons for that terrible event have not been completely clear until now, and may never be fully known. Those two cities were totally destroyed, ten thousands of people killed, and the aftermath was immense. Those events emphasized how dangerous those weapons are.

In the arsenal of 9 countries there are now approximately 16,300 nuclear war-heads. Those weapons are part of a deterrent policy, which was developed during the Cold War. The objection to a notion of a world without nuclear power is strong, however there is a second notion now, which stems from a humanitarian point of view that maybe the world is better off without those weapons.

Ms. Brandner talked about her personal experience visiting universities in Japan and interviewing people who have relatives who still remember the Hiroshima & Nagasaki events and still have psychological scars from that day. One student talked about her Grandfather who lived through this nightmare and for years after could not talk about it. He then came to be interviewed, opened up and talked for two hours non stops about the horrors of that day. He spoke about the slow deaths of the people, the stifling heat and the stench, the burning corpses lying on the streets for days. The Grandfather lived to be 88 years old but carried this trauma with him all his life.

One of the topics of the debate was the notion that nuclear weapons are a deterrent. Does it really work? Is it really a deterrent? Can one rely on the fact that the leaders of those countries who possess those weapons will really only refer to them as a deterrent factor and not use them?

Ambassador Kmentt stressed the fact that human error can be the most dangerous factor in having nuclear weapons. He compared it to a pilot in a plane who, if he makes a mistake and pushes the wrong button, the plane goes down and all passengers and crew will die. If a wrong button is pushed or any button is pushed for some reason on a nuclear weapon the consequences are unimaginable. The system has too many risks.

Prof. Gärtner believes a deterrent is only effective if it is believable by both sides that the weapons would be used.
He gave a bit of an historical view on Hiroshima & Nagasaki and said that the United States always contained that it was needed to end the war. Too many U.S. soldiers have died in World War II and it looked as if the Japanese were not ready to surrender. The questions remains, would they have surrendered had they known of the existence of the nuclear bomb? That’s where the deterrent part comes in. Another version for the necessity of ending the war this way was the fear of the U.S. that Russia would march into Japan and take over. Was that reason enough to use the Atom bomb?

Touching on the Iran deal which was signed in Vienna only a few days earlier the speakers agreed that Iran should be given a chance to prove itself worthy of the confidence that the Allies have put into that deal. The Iran deal will define what is for peace and what is for war. On a questions from the audience how can one be certain that technically the weapons are not to be used for war, the answer was that one cannot be 100% sure of it, but one has to trust the Iranians to some extent.

I would like to elaborate a bit on one aspect which was mentioned a few times during the conversation. It was the fact that nine nations — the United States, Russia, United Kingdom, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea — possess approximately 16,300 nuclear weapons. in total. Under the Treaty on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (New START), Russia and the United States have reduced their inventories but still account for more than 93% of all operational nuclear warheads. Opened for signature in 1968, the Treaty entered into force in 1970. On 11 May 1995, the Treaty was extended indefinitely. More countries have adhered to the NPT than any other arms limitation and disarmament agreement, a testament to the Treaty’s significance.

A total of 191 states have joined the Treaty, though North Korea, which acceded to the NPT in 1985 but never came into compliance, announced its withdrawal in 2003. Four UN member states have never joined the NPT: India, Israel, Pakistan and South Sudan.

In contrast to those countries, New Zealand is one small country which in 1984 barred nuclear-powered or nuclear-armed ships from using New Zealand ports or entering New Zealand waters. Under the New Zealand Nuclear Free Zone, Disarmament, and Arms Control Act of 1987, territorial sea, land and airspace of New Zealand became nuclear-free zones. This has since remained a part of New Zealand’s foreign policy.

The debate went on for a long time with no clear answer to the topic question: 70 years after: Are we smarter, are we more human? Nuclear weapons are basically only safe if used as a deterrent, but they are extremely dangerous if actually used.

Being a deterrent when two opposing sides are both nuclear armed – the certainty of a second strike becomes in effect an insurance of peace. That was the concept of M.A.D. (Mutually Assured Destruction) that lowered animosity between the two sides in the Cold War. The destruction caused in the two events in Japan – big as they were are nevertheless small compared to what, relatively, the new arms could do. The question is indeed, watching today’s ideological enemies, are they mellow enough to take the M.A.D. idea seriously? Will it always be a Head of State that has the nuclear button, or could it be that a device ends up with a group of insurgents?

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 25th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

February 17, 2015

Tesla’s Disruptive New Plan to Power Your Home
by Dr. Kent Moors

From a surprising source – Dr. Kent Moors’ Oil & Energy Investor’s site we picked up the following:

February 17, 2015 – but we picked this up only February 25th because Google deemed the posting a “Promotion rather then “Primar
 oilandenergyinvestor.com/2015/02/…

TESLA’s DISRUPTIVE NEW PLAN TO POWER YOUR HOME.
by Dr. Kent Moors

Dear Oil & Energy Investor,

Two eye-opening announcements prove that renewable energy is no longer at the mercy of the price of oil.


Both involve solar power, which I find increasingly attractive in today’s markets.

The first is a major test of a joint project between Tesla Motors Inc. (NasdaqGS: TSLA) and SolarCity Corp. (NasdaqGS: SCTY) involving 500 California homes.

Sources have told me they expect this test to be the final “proof of concept,” followed by wider applications in both residential and commercial uses.

The lynchpin between the two is a family connection.

Tesla’s CEO is Elon Musk, one of the most innovative entrepreneurs of our time, while his cousin Lyndon Rive is the CEO of SolarCity. Musk is also SolarCity’s biggest shareholder.

Now the two are coming together in hopes of solving the industry’s biggest roadblock…

———————————

This was followed by:

Solar Power Comes of Age

Tesla, of course, needs very little introduction. The California-based company has a very visible position in cutting-edge electric cars.

SolarCity, on the other hand, is the market leader in residential solar power installations. In the third quarter of 2014, SolarCity led the pack in this portion of the business by grabbing 39% of the market. Meanwhile, SolarCity’s next-closest competitor came in at 16%.

The two market leaders are now combining some of their operations in a very serious attempt to bring solar power into more consumer areas. In short, SolarCity is working with Tesla to make rooftop panels that are fitted with Tesla batteries.

Now a major test is underway in California that may usher in a new age of residential solar battery use.

The California test will utilize a solar battery with the ability to power a home for two days in the event of a blackout. In everyday use, the unit is expected to allow homeowners to store solar-generated power for use during high-cost periods, giving them the flexibility to use the conventional grid for cheaper, off-peak electricity.

Storing generated power for use at other times – in short, perfecting a new line of cost-effective batteries – has been the industry’s single biggest hurdle.

So the California residential test may well usher in a whole new ballgame. Considering the batteries from the Tesla-SolarCity venture (involving more than the California test) utilize a new generation of silicon batteries, rather than relying on rare earth metals or lithium, is also a plus. This type of approach is already well advanced, and is based on considerable familiarity and history.

It also doesn’t hurt that Tesla is building the biggest battery factory on the planet right now. Dubbed the “Gigafactory,” the plant is expected to have a dramatic effect on the energy storage market, helping to bring battery costs down by as much as half by 2020.

So while the initial price of these installations may come in high, as with any generation-changing new technology, the cost will eventually come down. What’s more, there may be some credits and other inducements provided by the companies to stimulate usage.

This development, combined with the recent decisions by Apple Inc. (NasdaqGS: AAPL) to power its new Pentagon-like headquarters via solar and Google Inc. (NasdaqGS: GOOG) opting for wind power for its San Francisco Bay Area base, show that renewables are now moving into all aspects of electricity end use here in the States.

and the SECOND BIG NEWS OF THE INTRODUCTORY PIECE:

India Breaks Ground on the World’s Largest Solar Plant

The second major development for renewables is unfolding halfway around the world.

India has announced a major push to provide 15% of its electricity needs from renewables with an initial push into solar power, which is unfolding right now. It’s the first high-profile effort to provide concrete plans for a major Asian advance into solar power distribution.

The Times of India reported yesterday that the construction of the world’s largest solar power plant has begun in the central Indian Rewa district, within the state of Madhya Pradesh. The plant, a joint venture between state-run PSU Urja Vikas Nigam and the Solar Energy Corp. of India, will provide 750 megawatt of electricity. Once online, the plant will be 36% bigger than the largest plant currently in operation.

The current world leader is the 550-megawatt Desert Sunlight Solar Farm, which just opened in California’s Mojave Desert. Situated on 3,800 acres near Joshua Tree National Park, the plant produces enough energy to power 160,000 homes.

But the Indian push into solar power hardly ends there. The government has plans for two dozen solar farms strategically placed throughout the country.

In all, the State Bank of India has committed resources for the development of 15 gigawatt of solar power by 2020. The objective is to provide a full 15% of the nation’s energy needs from renewable sources within five years.

To be sure, there are some doubts that New Delhi can pull this off. For one thing, the price tag is very debatable. For another, the national electricity distribution grid is in a sorry state, and would require significant, pricey, and (at the moment) an unspecified amount of investment to be able to shoulder the anticipated new power load.

Still, with the Chinese committed to a similar 15 gigawatt goal from solar by 2020, Germany’s decision to end its reliance on nuclear power, and the continued growth pattern in the U.S., one conclusion is already abundantly clear.

The future of solar, wind, biomass, geothermal, and other renewables is longer dependent on the price of crude.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 20th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

World Environment News from Reuters

India offers farmers soil tests to boost yields

Date: 20-Feb-15
Author: Ratnajyoti Dutta

India will provide soil testing for farmers to target the correct use of fertilizers, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Thursday, to push up yields and cut back on costly misuse.

The service will be available to around 60 percent of its 235 million farmers, Modi said on a visit to the desert state of Rajasthan, stressing the importance of soil health to lift India’s poor farm productivity. Agriculture employs more than half of India’s 1.25 billion people but accounts for only 14 percent of its $2.3 trillion economy.

The finance minister was likely to allocate $32 million for the project in this fiscal year’s budget on Feb. 28, a senor official said.

Smart cards can be issued to 140 million farmers in three years after testing soil for productivity, mineral mix, water capacity and salinity, and can be presented to government fertilizer suppliers.

Sudhir Panwar, president of a farmers’ lobby group, said the card will cut misuse of subsidized fertilizer. This could also help the government trim its fertilizer bill of around $10 billion.

Modi said a farmer with a holding of 1.2 hectares could save 50,000 rupees ($805) per year, if the right amount of nutrients were applied.

Reuters reported last year that Modi, who popularized the program in the state of Gujarat that he ran, was likely to roll it out across the country.

Gujarat’s farm output grew at an annual average of 6 percent over the past three years – about a percentage point higher than the national figure.


Modi has urged agriculture scientists and farmers to usher in India’s second green revolution after the first one in the 1960s that saw India more than treble its annual wheat output in just 15 years
.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 15th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT OF THE ARCTIC – IS IT POSSIBLE?

Author : Kapil Narula
10 Feb 2015
 www.maritimeindia.org/CommentryVi…

The Arctic is a unique region which plays a very important role in the earth’s ecosystem. It regulates the earth’s climate, influences the ocean currents, has rich biodiversity and is home to a substantial indigenous population. Therefore, sustainability should be a prerequisite condition for development in the Arctic.

‘Sustainability’ is the ability of a system to continue a desired behaviour indefinitely. An example of such a sustainable system is tropical rain forests in which the inherent processes continue in a cyclic manner to support life. On the other hand, ‘development’ is the process of growth. When these two words are conjoined it implies ‘continuous growth’. Hence the word ‘Sustainable Development’ is actually an oxymoron because any kind of growth cannot be indefinite.


While ‘Sustainable Development’ is rightly understood as a multi-dimensional concept, having economic, environmental and social dimensions, an extended definition also includes inter and intra-generational equity as well as inter-species equity, as its fundamental principles. However, people often misunderstand it as simultaneous and continued growth in all three dimensions. This understanding is flawed as these dimensions have competing goals and therefore there has to be a trade-off between these goals. As an example, any kind of economic growth has negative environmental externalities and there may be accompanying social impacts which may lead to collapse of societies. Therefore sustainable development needs to be perceived in a way that explicitly conveys the core idea that the growth of the economy and the society is constrained by environmental limits.


If ‘Sustainable Development’ of the Arctic region is viewed from the above perspective, one is forced to define environmental limits prior to looking at economic opportunities in the region. Further, the impact of development in the region on culture, societies and the traditional way of living of the indigenous people should also be minimal. Hence it is important that any activities which are undertaken in the Arctic region should be carefully examined for the foreseeable impacts which they might have on the region as well as on the ecosystem of the earth.

Let us consider two major issues which are threatening the sustainability of the Arctic region: ‘resources’ and ‘routes’. The scramble between Arctic nations to control both these and the intent of extra regional powers to share the trickledown benefits, have resulted in countries engaging in active geopolitics on the Arctic. While some countries like India are keenly interested in science in order to increase their understanding of climate change, other countries such as South Korea are looking at the economic benefits which they can reap as fallout of increased shipping in the region.

Let’s talk about resources first. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the region contains 30 percent of the world’s undiscovered natural gas and 15 per cent of its oil. These valuable energy resources have been fossilised over millions of years. From the viewpoint of sustainability, the ‘strong sustainability’ condition defines that the ‘economic capital’ (produced capital such as infrastructure, knowledge etc.), and ‘natural capital’ (environmental assets such as fossil fuels, biodiversity and other ecosystem structures) are complimentary, but not interchangeable. This implies that natural capital needs to be preserved sufficiently, as it has to be passed to the next generation and cannot be replaced with economic capital. Hence the amount of fossil fuels and minerals which can be extracted from the Arctic region should be limited to the regeneration rates of these resources. Obviously, this would mean that only miniscule amounts of resources can be extracted and therefore the strong sustainability condition is difficult to meet, in the case of energy and mineral resources. An alternate interpretation for resources can be as follows: the non-renewable resources which are extracted should be replaced by an equivalent amount of substitutes for that resource. This interpretation can however serve as a prerequisite condition for resource extraction, if the Arctic has to be developed sustainably.

The strong sustainability condition is often diluted to a ‘weak sustainability’ condition which allows unconditional substitution between economic and natural capital. This implies that natural resources may be used as long as economic capital is increased. Proponents of this approach claim that the energy which is extracted now, can be used to increase economic capital, so that the total amount of capital for the next generation remains unchanged. However, most often this weak sustainability condition is also violated and the extracted resources are consumed by the existing generation without a thought for the future generations.

On the issue of new shipping routes, the strong sustainability condition in the Arctic region would be met as long as the rates of waste generation from shipping and related activities do not exceed the assimilative capacity of the Arctic eco-system. This condition therefore requires that while the shipping routes may be used, there should be stringent environmental regulations controlling the operation of shipping in the region. Notwithstanding the strict enforcement of rules, the environmental risks remains high due the uncertain nature of floating ice, harsh climatic condition, risk of human or technical failure and the fragile nature of the environment. An oil spill either from offshore drilling or accidents at sea, marine pollution due to leaks and untreated waste disposal at sea are other challenges, which will have an impact on the marine environment in the region. However, as long as the environmental impact on the ecosystem is within the acceptable limits, shipping in the region could be classified as sustainable. But the question is “Do we have enough know-how on the Arctic ecosystem to even attempt defining such limits?” Further, what is the guarantee that there would be no accidents such as those involving the drilling ships, ‘Noble Discoverer’ and the ‘Kulluk’, operated by Shell off the Alaskan coast in 2013 which led to suspension of further drilling in the region. The answers to these questions are not easy and hence prior to allowing navigation of ships through the ice floes infested waters, one must carefully examine the environmental risks which the region is exposed to, if unrestricted shipping is allowed.

It can, therefore, be concluded that there are many challenges to sustainable development of the Arctic region. However, such a possibility exists, provided stringent rules and regulations are followed for shipping and a limited amount of resource extraction is permitted in the region. How would this development unfold, is a question which none can predict, but one can only hope that the Arctic Council adopts some guidelines which imposes certain limits and restriction on shipping and resource exploration activities in the Arctic region.

**************************************************

(*The author is a Research Fellow at the National Maritime Foundation, New Delhi. The views expressed are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Indian Navy or National Maritime Foundation. He can be reached at  kapilnarula at yahoo.com)

Kapil Narula
Cdr (Indian Navy)
Research Fellow
National Maritime Foundation
Airport Road, NH-8
New Delhi- 110 010
Ph:+91-11-26156520 Extn: 112(O)

AND

PhD Research Scholar
Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research
Goregaon (East), Mumbai

ARTICLE WRITTEN “towards the run up to the Indian National Maritime Foundation Annual Conference.”
The National Maritime Foundation is dedicated to “Nurture India’s Maritime Interests.”

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 25th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

from: Martin Indyk <foreign_policy@brookings.edu>
please reply to:  foreign_policy at brookings.edu

Subject: Brookings Search for a New Energy Security and Climate Initiative Director

THE BROOKINGS INSTITUTION – FOREIGN POLICY
 www.brookings.edu/about/employmen….

Please share this job posting with qualified candidates. We appreciate your help in getting the word out to qualified candidates in the energy security and climate policy communities.

Best Regards,

Martin Indyk
Vice President and Director, Foreign Policy
The Brookings Institution

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 23rd, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Dr. Vandana Shiva, the environmentalist from India who works for seed integrity against international corporations that are seeking control over every inch of the agricultural process, has joined with Rabbi Michael Lerner of Berkely, California, and became the international chair of the Network of Spiritual Progressives.

Rabbi Lerner is promoting ESRA that stands for – the Environmental and Social Responsibility Amendment to the U.S. Constitution – that he and Peter Gabel co-authored and which is being circulated as per salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/525…


(ESRA): The Environmental and Social Responsibility Amendment to the U.S. Constitution
(As proposed by Rabbi Michael Lerner and Peter Gabel and advanced through the work of The Network of Spiritual Progressives.)

The intent of the framers of this Amendment is to:

a. Protect the planet and its inhabitants from environmentally destructive economic arrangements and behavior, and to increase environmental responsibility on the part of all corporations and government bodies.

b. Increase U.S. citizens’ democratic control over American economic and political institutions and ensure that all people, regardless of income, have the same electoral clout and power to shape policies and programs.

c. Promote the well-being of citizens of the United States by recognizing that our well-being depends on the well-being of the planet and all its inhabitants, which in turn requires an end to poverty, wars, and violence, and the rise of a new global ethic of genuine caring and mutual interdependence.


Article One: The Pro-Democracy Clause

A. The First & Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution shall apply only to human beings, and not corporations, limited liability associations, and other artificial entities created by the laws of the United States.

B. Money or other currency shall not be considered a form of speech within the meaning of the First Amendment to the Constitution, and its expenditure is subject to regulation by the Congress and by the legislatures of the several States.

C. Congress shall regulate the amount of money used to disseminate ideas or shape public opinion in any federal election in order to assure that all major points of view regarding issues and candidates receive equal exposure to the greatest extent possible. Congress shall fund all major candidates for the House, Senate and Presidency in all major elections and in primaries for the nomination for president of major parties (those which have obtained at least 5% of the vote in the last election for president).

D. In the three months prior to any election for a federal position, all media or any other means of mass communication reaching more than 300,000 people shall provide equal time to all major presidential candidates to present their views for at least an hour at least once a week, and equal time once every two weeks for congressional candidates during that media agency’s prime time. The candidates shall determine the form and content of that communication. Print media reaching more than 300,000 people shall provide equal space in the news, editorial, or most frequently read section of the newspaper or magazine or blog site or other means of communications which may be developed in the future. During the three months prior to an election, no candidate, no political party, and no organization seeking to influence public policy may buy time in any media or form of mass communication or any other form of mass advertising including on the Internet. Major candidates shall be defined as:

a. those who have at least 5% of support as judged by the average of at least ten independent polling firms, at least two of which are selected by the candidates deemed “not major,” 3 months before any given election,

b. or any candidate who can collect the signatures of 5% of the number of people who voted in the election for that office the last time that office was contested in an election. These petitions can only be signed by people eligible to vote in the relevant electoral districts. Every state shall develop similar provisions aimed at allowing candidates for the governor and state legislatures to be freed from their dependence on wealthy donors or corporations.


Article Two: Corporate Environmental and Social Responsibility

A. Every citizen of the United States and every organization chartered by the U.S. or any of its several states shall have a responsibility to promote the ethical, environmental, and social well-being of all life on the planet Earth and on any other planet or in Space with which humans come into contact.

This being so, corporations chartered by the Congress and by the several States shall demonstrate the ethical, environmental, and social impact of their proposed activities at the time they seek permission to operate.

In addition, any corporation with gross receipts in excess of $100 million shall obtain a new corporate charter every five years, and this charter shall be granted only if the corporation can prove a satisfactory history of environmental, social, and ethical responsibility to a grand jury of ordinary citizens chosen at random from the voting rolls of the community in which the primary activities of the corporation take place, or, if there is dispute between stakeholders and the corporation on where those primary activities take place, then in Washington, D.C.

Factors to be considered by the grand jury in determining whether a corporation will be granted a charter shall include but not be limited to:

1. The degree to which the products produced or services provided are beneficial rather than destructive to the planet and its oceans, forests, water supplies, land, and air, and the degree to which its decisions help ensure that the resources of the earth are available to future generations.

2. The degree to which it pays a living wage to all its employees and the employees of any contractors with which it does business either in the US or abroad, and arranges its pay scale such that none of its employees or contractors or members of its board of directors or officers of the corporation earn (in direct and indirect benefits combined) more than ten times the wages of its lowest full-time wage earners; the degree to which it provides equal benefits including health care, child care, retirement pensions, sick pay, and vacation time to all employees; and the degree to which its employees enjoy satisfactory safety and health conditions; and the degree to which it regularly adopts and uses indicators of its productivity and success which include factors regarding human well-being, satisfaction and participation in work, and involvement in community service by its employees and members of its top management and board of directors;

3. The degree to which it supports the needs of the communities in which it operates and in which its employees live, including the degree to which it resists the temptation to move assets or jobs to other locations where it can pay workers less or provide weaker environmental and worker protections.
4. The degree to which it encourages significant democratic participation by all its employees in corporate decision making; the degree to which it discloses to its employees and investors and the public its economic situation, the factors shaping its past decisions, and its attempts to influence public discourse, and the degree to which it follows democratic procedures internally

5. The degree to which it treats its employees, its customers, and the people and communities in which it operates with adequate respect and genuine caring for their well-being, and rewards its employees to the extent that they engage in behaviors that manifest genuine caring, respect, kindness, generosity, and ethical and environmentally sensitive practices.

6. The degree to which its investment decisions enhance and promote the economic, social, and ethical welfare and physical & mental health and well-being of the communities in which its products may be produced, sold, or advertised and/or the communities from which it draws raw materials.

7. When assessing the environmental and social responsibility of banks, stock markets, investment firms and other corporations whose activities include the lending or investing of monies, in addition to the issues 1-6 above, the jury should also consider: the degree to which the financial institutions direct the flow of money to socially and/or envrionmentally useful activities, including non-profits serving the most disadvantaged of the society and including the financing of local business cooperatives and local community banks and to support low-income and middle income housing with affordable mortgages, rather than directing the money to speculators in finance, real estate, or other commercial activities; the degree to which it forgives loans previously given to poverty stricken countries; the degree to which it engages in misleading advertising or hides the costs of its services in small print or engages in aggressive marketing of monies for loans or preys on the most economically vulnerable; the degree to which it offers no-interest loans to those with incomes below the mean average income in the society; and the degree to which it seeks to fund directly socially useful projects and small businesses.

In making these determinations, the jury shall solicit testimony from the corporation’s board of directors, from its employees, and from its stakeholders (those whose lives have been impacted by the operations of the corporation) around the US and around the world. The U.S. government shall supply funds to provide adequate means for the jury to do its investigations, to hire staff to do relevant investigations, and to compensate jurors at a level comparable to the mean average of income in the region in which the deliberations of the jury takes place, or at the level of their current income, whichever is higher.

If the grand jury is not satisfied with the level of environmental, social, and ethical responsibility, it may put the corporation on probation and prescribe specific changes needed. If after three more years the jury is not satisfied that those changes have been adequately implemented, the jury may assign control of the board and officers of the corporation to non-management employees of the corporation and/or to its public stakeholders and/or to another group of potential corporate directors and managers who seem most likely to successfully implement the changes required by the jury, but with the condition that this new board must immediately implement the changes called for by the jury within two years time, or else the jury can reassign control of the corporation to another group of potential board members.

B Any government office or project receiving government funds that seeks to engage ln a contract (with any other corporation or limited liability entity) involving the expenditure of over $100,000 (adjusted annually for inflation) shall require that those who apply to fulfill that contract submit an Environmental and Social Responsibility Impact Report to assess the applicant’s corporate behavior in regard to the factors listed above in point A of Article II. Community stakeholders and non-supervisory employees may also submit their own assessment by filling out the Environment and Social Responsibility Impact Report. Contracts shall be rewarded to the applicant with the best record of environmental and social responsibility that can also satisfactorily fulfill the other terms of the contract.


Article Three: The Positive Requirement to Enhance Human Community and Environmental Sustainability

A. Earth being the natural and sacred home of all its peoples, Congress shall develop legislation to enhance the environmental sustainability of human communities and the planet Earth, and shall present a report annually to the American people on progress made during the previous year in ameliorating any conditions deemed by an independent group of scientists to be adverse to the planet’s long-term environmental welfare. The objectives of such legislation shall include but not be limited to alleviating global warming, reducing all forms of pollution, restoring the ecological balance of the oceans, and assuring the well-being of all forests and animal life. The President of the United States shall have the obligation to enforce such legislation and to develop executive policies to assure the carrying out of its objectives.

B. In order to prepare the people of the United States to live as environmentally and socially responsible citizens of the world, and to recognize that our own well being as citizens of the United States depends upon the well being of everyone else on Earth and the well being of this planet itself, every educational institution receiving federal funds whether directly or through the several states, shall provide education in reading, writing and basic arithmetic, and appropriate instruction including at least one required course for all its students per year per grade level from kindergarten through 12th grade, and in any college receiving funding or financial aid or loan guarantees for its students, in:

1. the skills and capacities necessary to develop a caring society manifesting love, generosity, kindness, caring for each other and for the earth, joy, rational and scientific thinking, non-violence, celebration, thanksgiving, forgiveness, humility, compassion, ethical and ecological sensitivity, appreciation of humanity’s rich multicultural heritage as expressed in literature, art, music, religion, and philosophy, non-violence in action and speech, skills for democratic participation including skills in how to change the opinions of fellow citizens or influence their thinking in ways that are respectful of differences and tolerant of disagreements, and how to organize fellow citizens for non-violent political action and engagement in support of causes not-yet-popular; and in

2. the appropriate scientific, ethical, and behavioral knowledge and skills required to assure the long term environmental sustainability of the planet Earth, and to do so in ways that enhance the well being of everyone on the planet.

Congress shall provide funding for such courses in all the educational institutions receiving public funds or loans or loan guarantees for students, and shall provide funding for similar courses to be made available to the non-student populations in each state.

All such courses must teach caring not only for the people and economic, social and environmental well-being of the people of the United States, but also for the economic, social and environmental well-being of all the people on the planet Earth and the well-being of the planet as well!

The measurement of student progress in the areas covered by sections 1 and 2 being, like artistic and musical skills, difficult or impossible to measure by quantitative criteria, educational institutions supported directly or indirectly by public funds shall develop subtle and appropriate qualitative ways of evaluating adequate progress on the part of students in the areas specified, ways that contribute to and not detract from students’ ability to love learning and to enhance their capacities to cooperate rather than compete with their fellow students in the process of intellectual and emotional growth. Teachers shall be funded to learn the skills described in points A and B and the methods of evaluation appropriate to this kind of values-oriented subject matter.


Article Four: Implementation

A. Any corporation which moves or seeks to move its assets outside the U.S. must submit an Environmental and Social Impact report to a grand jury of ordinary citizens, and the jury shall similarly receive testimony from other stakeholders and the employees of the corporation in question to determine the impact of the moving of those assets outside the U.S. The jury shall then determine what part of those assets, up to and including all of the assets of the corporation, shall be held in the U.S. to compensate those made unemployed or otherwise disadvantaged by the corporate move of its resources elsewhere, and or to pay for other forms of environmental or social destruction of the resources or the well-being of the United States or its citizens. Conspiracy to evade this provision shall be a crime punishable by no less than twenty years in prison for all members of the board of such a corporation.

2. Any part of the Constitution or the laws of the U.S., or any of its states, deemed by a court to be in conflict with any part of this ESRA Amendment shall be null and void. Any trade arrangements, treaties, or other international agreements entered into by the United States, its citizens, or its several states, deemed by a court to be in conflict with the provisions or intent of this Amendment are hereby declared null and void.

3. Congress shall take action to provide adequate funding for all parts of this amendment and implementing legislation that seeks to fulfill the intent as stated above.

Please circulate and seek endorsements by your local city council, religious, civic and professional organizations, political parties, and your State Legislature and U.S. Congressional and Senatorial representatives.

And please sign this yourself: by going to
 salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/525…

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 20th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

With  Interference from Breaking News from the battle fields in the Ukraine and the Muslim World – the US and Russia are at Cold War level; Israel has already 20 dead (two civilians) and dozens wounded – Fareed Zakaria on CNN/Global Public Square did his best this Sunday July 20, 2014, to try to make sense from the present global wars.
I will try to reorganize the material into a neat tableau that can be viewed as a whole.

Fareed’s own introduction was about what happened in recent years is a “democratization of violence” that created an asymmetry like in Al Qaeda’s 9/11 where each of their one dollar generated the need for  7 million dollars to be spent by the US in order to counter-react. Thus, before, it was armies of States that were needed to have a war – now everyone can cause it with a pauper’s means.

Then he continued by saying that this is NOT what happened in Ukraine. There Putin was trying to fake it, by using his resources large State resources to create from former Russian soldiers a “rebel force in the Ukraine.”  The Kremlin is operating the rebels in a situation where the military expenditures by Russia, which are 35 times larger then those of the Ukraine, take care of the expenditures of this war.

But where Vladimir Putin miscalculated – it is that he did not realize that when he takes the ginny of Nationalism out of his dark box, he will never be able to cause it to go back. Putin unleashed both – Russian and Ukrainian Nationalism and it might be that by now he is no boss over the outcome anymore.

Let us face it – G.W. Bush played a similar game in Iraq and Afghanistan and the US will not be  master in the Middle East anymore.
Zbigniew Brzezinski was asked on the program what should Obama do?

He thinks this is a historical defining moment that allows still to Putin to redeem himself. It is for him – rather then somebody else – to call for an International tribunal and allow open investigation by telling the pro-Russians in the Ukraine, whom he supported and provided them with arms, that they crossed the line.  Brzezinski says this is a situation for Europe like it was before WWII.

The issue is that the Europeans are not yet behind the US. London is a Las Vegas for the Russians, France supplies them military goods, it was a German Chancellor before Merkel who made Europe dependent on Rusian gas.
Without being clearly united behind the US, the West will get nowhere.

On the other hand – Russia, seeing the sanctions coming, sees the prospect of becoming a China satellite if sanctions go into effect. Not a great prospect for itself either.

So, the answer is Obama leadership to be backed by the Europeans and Putin making steps to smooth out the situation and redeem himself. This is the only way to save the old order.

Steven Cohen, Professor on Russia at Princeton: The US is in a complicated situation by having backed fully the Ukrainian government.

It is the US that pushed Putin to take his positions. The Ukraine is a divided country and the story is not just a recent development. Putin cannot just walk away from the separatists in the Ukraine – they will not listen to him. The reality in the Ukraine, as per Professor Cohen, is very complex and there are no good guys there – basically just a complex reality that was exploited from the outside.

Christa Freeland, a famous journalist, who is now a Canadian member of Parliament, and traveled many times to the Ukraine, completely disagrees with Cohen and says a US leadership is imperative.

Our feeling is that all this discussion goes on as if it were in a vacuum – the true reality is that in the Globalized World we are far beyond the post WWII configuration that was just Trans-Atlantic with a Eurasian Continental spur going to China and Japan.  What has happened since is the RISE OF THE REST OF THE WORLD – with China, india, Brazil, and even South Africa, telling the West that besides dealing with Russia the West must deal with them as well !!
 The BRICS meeting in Fortaleza (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) where this week they established a $50 Billion alternative to the World Bank and a $100 Billion alternative to the IMF, ought to be part of the negotiation in the US and at the EU Member States  when talking about a post-Ukraine-flare-up World. The timing may have been coincidental – but the build-up was not.

These days there is the celebration of 70 years (1–22 July 1944) of the establishing of the Bretton Woods agreements system that created the old institutions that can be changed only with the help of US Congress – something that just will not happen. Those are the World Bank and the IMF – but In the meantime China has become the World’s largest economy and they still have less voting power at the World Bank then the three BENELUX countries.
The BRICS do not accept anymore the domination of the US dollar over their economies. If nothing else they want a seat at the table, and detest the fact that three out of five are not even at the UN Security Council.

So, the New World Order will have to account for this Rise of the Rest having had the old order based just on the West.

   Further on today’s program, Paul Krugman a very wise man, a Nobel Prize holder in Economics, was brought in to show  a quick take on the economy. He made it clear that there is an improvement but it is by far not enough.

It is more half empty then half full because by now it should have been better. But he stressed that despite the interference, Obamacare works better and ahead of expectations. Even premiums rise slower then before.

Yes, there are some losers, but this is a narrow group of young and healthy, but people that were supposed to be helped are helped.

On energy – yes – renewable costs are lower then expected.

Obama’s grade? Over all B or B-, but on what he endured from the opposition A-. Yes, we can trust Obama to decide the correct moves – and on International and Foreign Policy the White House has freer hands then in Internal, National, policy. His presidency is the most consequential since Ronald Reagan – whatever we think of Reagan – but in Obama’s case, he will leave behind  a legacy of the country having been involved in less disasters, but leaving behind more achievements – be those in health-care, environment, finances, energy, migration, etc. then any President of the last 40 years. But where does this leave him in relation to the Rest of the World?

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 16th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

A Win-Win Solution for the Negotiations over Iran’s Nuclear Program – as reported by Irith Jawetz who participated at the UN in Vienna Compound July 15th Meeting .

 

The Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation (VCDNP) and Search for Common Ground  invited us to attend a panel discussion titled “A Win-Win Solution for the Negotiations over Iran’s Nuclear Program,” which was held on Tuesday, 15 July 2014 at 13:00 at the Vienna Center for Disarmament & Non Proliferation (VCDNP).

 
As P5+1 and Iran are meeting in Vienna at Foreign Ministers level to resolve the outstanding issues preventing a comprehensive agreement on Iran’s nuclear program before the 20 July deadline, a group of renown experts on the technical and political aspects of the negotiations have met at VCDNP to discuss and identify possible compromises.

 

Panelists: 
 
Dr. Frank von Hippel, Senior Research Physicist and Professor of Public and International Affairs Emeritus at Princeton University’s Program on Science and Global Security 
 
Mr. Daryl G. Kimball, Executive Director, Arms Control Association. Previously he was the Executive Director of the Coalition to reduce Nuclear Dangers, and the Director of Security Programs for Physicians for Social Responsibility.
 
Ambassador (ret.) William G. Miller, Senior Advisor for the US-Iran Program, Search for Common GroupHe is a Senior Policy Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.. He is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the International Institute of Strategic Studies, and the Middle East Institute. He is the co-Chairman of the Kyiv Mohyla Foundation of America and a Director of The Andrei Sakharov Foundation. He has also been a senior consultant for the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

This was a very timely event, as the Foreign Ministers of the P5+1 group of Nations – the U.S., U.K., France. Germany, China, and Russia – spent the weekend in Vienna  discussing follow ups to the interim agreement reached between them and Iran in advance of this July 20th deadline.


At the start of the Panel discussion, it was announced that at that very moment Secretary of State John Kerry is giving his Press Conference before flying back to Washington to report to President Obama about the negotiations. He is willing to come back next weekend for the July 20-th continuation of the discussions.

———–

Ambassador Miller was the first speaker, and he gave a rather optimistic view of the situation. His presentation had more of a political nature.  In his presentation he said that the basic principles of the negotiations is to assure that Iran has no nuclear weapons . Iran has the capability, brain, expertise and knowhow but has no strategic moral or ethical reason to develop nuclear weapons to be used as weapons of mass destruction.
It is a fact, though, that the Iranians insist on use of peaceful nuclear energy – to what extent it is peaceful and how can the rest of the world be sure that it will be peaceful, this is why the negotiations have to succeed. Ambassador Miller is hopeful that, after 35 years of the current regime in Iran, those negotiations will result in a positive answer.
Ambassador Miller commended all the participating teams, the Press and Academia. First he mentioned the top quality Iranian team at the negotiations, many of the participants he knows personally. They were able, motivated, and anxious to find a solution. The US team, led by Secretary Kerry did a  remarkably good job, as did the rest of the teams. He commended the Press who were persistent – fully covered the negotiations and were very professional – and academia who helped with background information.
—————

Mr. Daryl G.Kimball, Executive Director, Arms Control Association talked about a solution for the Iranian Uranium-Enrichment Puzzle. In his presentation he stressed that “Solutions that prevent a nuclear-armed Iran, lower the risk of yet another major conflict in the region, and still provide Iran with the means to pursue a realistic, peaceful nuclear program are within reach” – he said.
Progress has already been achieved on several key issues – stregthening International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspections and oversight at existing and undeclared sites.  …   Iran has agreed to modify its Arak heavy-water reactor to drastically cut its plutonium output, and a general framework has been developed to waive, and eventually lift, sanctions against Iran.   …  Nevertheless, the two sides have more work to do to bridge differences on the most difficult issue: limiting Iran’s uranium-enrichment capacity.As part of a comprehensive deal, Iran and the P5+1 have to agree on several steps to constrain Iran: limit uranium enrichment to levels of less than 5% – keep stocks of its enriched uranium near zero – and halt production-scale work at the smaller Fordow enrichment plant and convert it to research-only facility.

He shares Ambassador Miller’s hope and positive outlook that the negotiations will succeed. Anything less than success will be a catastrophe.

—————-
The last speaker was Dr. Frank von Hippel who is a Senior Research Physicist and Professor of Public and International Affairs Emeritus at Princeton University’s Program on Science and Global Security.Dr. von Hippel gave a very technical presentation about the Possible elements of a compromise on Iran’s Nuclear Program.

Potential sources of fissile material from Iran’s nuclear energy program are:

1. Plutonium presence in reactor fuel (current issue is Arak reactor)

2. Iran’s centrifuge enrichment complex.

There are two stages in rationalizing the Current situartion:

Stage I

Iran currently has installed 18,000 IR-1 centrifuges  – the compromise would be:

1) to retire IR-1  and replace it with already installed IR-2ms to support research-reactor LEU needs.

2) Continued transparency for Iran’s centrifuge production – possibly as a template for enhanced transparency for centrifuge production worldwide.

3) Continued minimization of stocks of low enriched UF6.

Stage 1 will provide time to cool down an inflamed situation and would provide Iran and the West an opportunity for a cooler assessment of the costs and benefits of diferent possible paths.

In stage II, negotiations might agree on a solution currently beyond reach and also lay a base for a new global regime for enrichment.

Stage II

 

National or Multi-National enrichment? A global Issue.

National – Every  state has the right to enrich fuel for power reactor fuel. However today only Brazil, China, Iran, Japan and Russia have completely independent national civilian enrichment programs.

Multinational – Urenco (Germany, Netherland, UK) . Today Urenco owns the only operating U.S,. civilian enrichment plant.

Building in Flexibility for Iran:

1. Iran should have access to nuclear reactor and fuel vendors worldwide – to ensure that it is getting a good price and reliable delivery.

2. Iran could build up stockpile of fabricated fuel for Bushehr. That would take care of Iran’s fuel security concerns and make it easier for Iran to postpone a large domestic enrichment capacity or depend on a multinational enrichment plant – perhape equiped with Iranian centrifuges in another country in the Middle East.

Dr. von Hippel COPLIMENTED his theory with  charts.

The consensus at the end of the discussion was that the negotiations seem to go well, and all panelists, as well as some members of the audience expressed their hope that they will indeed succeed. Ambassador Miller even went as far as to state that Iran at the moment is the most stable nation in the region, and we have to take advantage of it, make sure the negotiation succeed,  and bring Iran back to the International community.

In the news today it was reported that Secretary of State John Kerry was on his way to Washington to brief President Obama on the negotiations – rather then on a prior advertised new effort in the Israel-Palestine arena. He was hopeful, but also said there are still some points which need to be clarified.

==========================
Further last comment by SustainabiliTank editor – we add – taken from a Thom Friedman article about a different issue:
We accept that in the future the World true powers of today – The US, China, India, Russia, Japan and the EU – and we like to add Brazil as well – will have to meet their minds and harmonize what ought to be a global leadership for a safe future planet. Just ad hoc chaperoning specific issues will be proven to be not enough.

The way to find a solution to the issue of a nuclear Iran shows that in the globalized world of today there must be an international guiding force. But on this much more has to be written for the sake of Sustainability.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 20th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Will India’s new PM Modi be a climate change champion?

If India’s new BJP leader puts India on the path of sustainable development, he could help save the planet

- See more at: www.rtcc.org/2014/05/19/will-indi…

Will India’s new PM Modi be a climate change champion?

If India’s new BJP leader puts India on the path of sustainable development, he could help save the planet

- See more at: www.rtcc.org/2014/05/19/will-indi…

Will India’s new PM Modi be a climate change champion?

Last updated on 19 May 2014, 7:40 am

If India’s new BJP leader puts India on the path of sustainable development, he could help save the planet

 

Pic: Narendra Modi/Flickr

Pic: Narendra Modi/Flickr

India, the world’s third largest polluter, has just elected a new leader.

This makes Narendra Modi, the dynamic chief of India’s now ruling BJP party, one of the most powerful players in fight against climate change.

Dubbed the “Development Man” during his mammoth election campaign, Modi pushed a vision of prosperity to India: more power, electrified cities, and wealthier citizens. How he chooses to deliver on such a promise has profound implications for the planet over years to come.

A country’s ability to develop largely depends on its energy supply. In the BJP’s election manifesto, its slogan concerning energy is “Generate More, Use Rationally, Waste Less”.

Whether he depends on fossil fuels or renewables to top up electricity supplies in India – a country where around a third of people are still not connected to the national grid – could determine the planet’s chance staying within safe limits of global warming.

“The question is what won’t they do as much as what will they do,” says Nitin Pandit, managing director of World Resources Institute India, one of many observers eager to see if Modi will, for example, move India away from polluting coal as a primary energy source.

But as Modi seeks to push a ferocious agenda of national development, he may find it difficult to reject development proposals that looks “wonderful on paper”, says Pandit, even if it doesn’t strictly adhere to his manifesto pledge to “put sustainability at the centre of our thoughts and actions” – a suitably vague notion that has left experts pondering how much they can expect from India’s new leader.

Development

Delve deeper into the BJP manifesto, and Modi’s climate policies remain mysterious. The focus is not how, but how much energy they are going to be able to produce.

Following in the footsteps of the US, India looks ready to adopt an “all of the above” strategy when it comes to energy: the manifesto promises to “maximize the potential of oil, gas, hydel power, ocean, wind, coal and nuclear”. This includes exploring for and producing more coal, at the same time as advancing India’s solar mission.

A diverse supply of energy is not without benefits – it creates security of energy supply, and decreases vulnerability to changeable markets – but, says Pandit, “I don’t think the thinking is about diversity per se. It is just being about being able to get more supply, no matter which way.”

Some are optimistic that Modi and his pro-business attitude mean that he will be a force for good in pushing India’s rapidly developing renewables market.

“Modi absolutely believes, and he has publicly stated many times, that he wants to embrace the clean energy model,” says Krishnan Pallassana, executive director of The Climate Group India. “With Modi as prime minister we expect there will be a huge boost to this sector, because he not only talks, he also walks the walk.”

Congress, he adds, whom Modi beat in a landslide victory, had good intentions, but their more “welfare-centric, subsidy-centric” approach failed to deliver the promised results.

An agenda centred around development could indeed be a boon for the planet, if the government succeeds in linking this up to a complementary climate agenda.

While the economy and anti-corruption measures have provided the rallying cry of this election, when the fever has died down, these are the sort of links that the new government could start to make, according to Suruchi Bhadwal, Associate Director of Earth Science and Climate Change at the Energy and Resources Institute in India.

“It may not draw immediate attention, but maybe in a year or two may tap into adaptation mitigation,” she says. And there are parts of the “Modi intelligentsia” who are already beginning to make the link, adds Pandit.

The presidential-style candidate, dominated by Modi’s own dynamism, has also added to hopes that he stands ready to take advantage of renewable energy opportunities if they will spur further development in India. “Given the personality of the person, if there are opportunities to tap into in any area, I think he’s the kind of person who will jump into it hands on,” says Bhadwal.

Gujarat experience

Modi’s stint as chief minister in the Indian state of Gujarat provides something of a backstory to what can be expected from him now that he has the whole of India in his hands.

Under his governance, Gujarat became India’s leader in solar energy, pre-empting the national government by releasing its own solar policy in 2009, a year before the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission was issued.

Of the 1000+ MW installed in the country over the period 2010-2012, over 70% of this belonged to Gujarat. Modi also launched Asia’s first ever government department dedicated to climate change, and even followed in the footsteps of Al Gore, becoming the second politician to pen a book on global warming.

But from thereon, the tale loses some of its glory. Local reports from last year suggest that the climate change department has all but collapsed, and as other states have caught up on Gujarat’s solar revolution, its share of India’s total solar capacity has fallen to around 40%.

This has raised some doubts about his ability to replicate his success in one state across all 29. “I feel there are quite some challenges for him, but he may succeed in some parts. Not all states are at the same level of development, and there are very different institutional capacities across the country,” comments Bhadwal.

International

Modi will also have to familiarise himself with the international politics of climate change – his tenure will overlap with the UN’s attempt in 2015 to sign of a global, legally binding climate deal.

India’s stance at the talks so far has been less than conciliatory, with many issues still remained to be smoothed out between them and other big emitters such as the EU and US.

Indian Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan at the UNFCCC talks in Durban. (Pic: UNFCCC/Mark Garten)Indian Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan at the UNFCCC talks in Durban. (Pic: UNFCCC/Mark Garten)

The outspoken party is unlikely to change this approach any time soon, and while adaptation is likely to remain a priority, it is unlikely they are going to be pressured into taking on mitigation actions equal to those of developed countries any time soon.

“I don’t see why they would feel the need to suddenly start accepting international demands on what must happen to the climate,” says Pandit.

“The belief there is the largest per capita contributors to the problem have been the developed countries, and frankly until they make a dent in their emissions the issue is not going to be resolved. That opinion is shared quite commonly among a large spectrum of Indians, and there’s no reason why the Modi government will differ from that.”

But it is ultimately the priorities of electorate that determines the content of the parties’ manifestos, as each attempts to score political points over the other. The continued lack of awareness means this will go down as just one more exercise in democracy where climate change was forced into the back seat.

Yet there is something of a disconnect in this, considering the other dominant concern in India at the moment: the oncoming rains.

“What matters to the common man is what the rains are going to be like this season and whether the bread baskets are going to be full. No matter what happens in the elections the monsoons will show us the way,” says Pandit.

“The impact of climate change on the weather is not an easy subject, but more emphasis could be put on it to raise awareness of people, so they can hopefully vote accordingly.”

—————————————————–

Newly-elected Modi aims to bring solar to every Indian home by 2019
BusinessGreen 
India plans to produce enough solar energy to power a lightbulb in every home in the country by 2019, a party official has said.     jlne.ws/1to1AJJ

 

- See more at: www.rtcc.org/2014/05/19/will-indias-new-pm-modi-be-a-climate-change-champion/#sthash.dlTvP58z.dpuf

Will India’s new PM Modi be a climate change champion?

If India’s new BJP leader puts India on the path of sustainable development, he could help save the planet

Pic: Narendra Modi/Flickr

Pic: Narendra Modi/Flickr

By Sophie Yeo

India, the world’s third largest polluter, has just elected a new leader.

This makes Narendra Modi, the dynamic chief of India’s now ruling BJP party, one of the most powerful players in fight against climate change.

Dubbed the “Development Man” during his mammoth election campaign, Modi pushed a vision of prosperity to India: more power, electrified cities, and wealthier citizens. How he chooses to deliver on such a promise has profound implications for the planet over years to come.

A country’s ability to develop largely depends on its energy supply. In the BJP’s election manifesto, its slogan concerning energy is “Generate More, Use Rationally, Waste Less”.

Whether he depends on fossil fuels or renewables to top up electricity supplies in India – a country where around a third of people are still not connected to the national grid – could determine the planet’s chance staying within safe limits of global warming.

“The question is what won’t they do as much as what will they do,” says Nitin Pandit, managing director of World Resources Institute India, one of many observers eager to see if Modi will, for example, move India away from polluting coal as a primary energy source.

But as Modi seeks to push a ferocious agenda of national development, he may find it difficult to reject development proposals that looks “wonderful on paper”, says Pandit, even if it doesn’t strictly adhere to his manifesto pledge to “put sustainability at the centre of our thoughts and actions” – a suitably vague notion that has left experts pondering how much they can expect from India’s new leader.

Development

Delve deeper into the BJP manifesto, and Modi’s climate policies remain mysterious. The focus is not how, but how much energy they are going to be able to produce.

Following in the footsteps of the US, India looks ready to adopt an “all of the above” strategy when it comes to energy: the manifesto promises to “maximize the potential of oil, gas, hydel power, ocean, wind, coal and nuclear”. This includes exploring for and producing more coal, at the same time as advancing India’s solar mission.

Narendra Modi and his competition Rahul Gandhi (Pic: Global Panorama/Flickr)

Narendra Modi and his competition Rahul Gandhi (Pic: Global Panorama/Flickr)

A diverse supply of energy is not without benefits – it creates security of energy supply, and decreases vulnerability to changeable markets – but, says Pandit, “I don’t think the thinking is about diversity per se. It is just being about being able to get more supply, no matter which way.”

Some are optimistic that Modi and his pro-business attitude mean that he will be a force for good in pushing India’s rapidly developing renewables market.

“Modi absolutely believes, and he has publicly stated many times, that he wants to embrace the clean energy model,” says Krishnan Pallassana, executive director of The Climate Group India. “With Modi as prime minister we expect there will be a huge boost to this sector, because he not only talks, he also walks the walk.”

Congress, he adds, whom Modi beat in a landslide victory, had good intentions, but their more “welfare-centric, subsidy-centric” approach failed to deliver the promised results.

An agenda centred around development could indeed be a boon for the planet, if the government succeeds in linking this up to a complementary climate agenda.

While the economy and anti-corruption measures have provided the rallying cry of this election, when the fever has died down, these are the sort of links that the new government could start to make, according to Suruchi Bhadwal, Associate Director of Earth Science and Climate Change at the Energy and Resources Institute in India.

“It may not draw immediate attention, but maybe in a year or two may tap into adaptation mitigation,” she says. And there are parts of the “Modi intelligentsia” who are already beginning to make the link, adds Pandit.

The presidential-style candidate, dominated by Modi’s own dynamism, has also added to hopes that he stands ready to take advantage of renewable energy opportunities if they will spur further development in India. “Given the personality of the person, if there are opportunities to tap into in any area, I think he’s the kind of person who will jump into it hands on,” says Bhadwal.

Gujarat experience

Modi’s stint as chief minister in the Indian state of Gujarat provides something of a backstory to what can be expected from him now that he has the whole of India in his hands.

Under his governance, Gujarat became India’s leader in solar energy, pre-empting the national government by releasing its own solar policy in 2009, a year before the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission was issued.

Of the 1000+ MW installed in the country over the period 2010-2012, over 70% of this belonged to Gujarat. Modi also launched Asia’s first ever government department dedicated to climate change, and even followed in the footsteps of Al Gore, becoming the second politician to pen a book on global warming.

But from thereon, the tale loses some of its glory. Local reports from last year suggest that the climate change department has all but collapsed, and as other states have caught up on Gujarat’s solar revolution, its share of India’s total solar capacity has fallen to around 40%.

This has raised some doubts about his ability to replicate his success in one state across all 29. “I feel there are quite some challenges for him, but he may succeed in some parts. Not all states are at the same level of development, and there are very different institutional capacities across the country,” comments Bhadwal.

International

Modi will also have to familiarise himself with the international politics of climate change – his tenure will overlap with the UN’s attempt in 2015 to sign of a global, legally binding climate deal.

India’s stance at the talks so far has been less than conciliatory, with many issues still remained to be smoothed out between them and other big emitters such as the EU and US.

Indian Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan at the UNFCCC talks in Durban. (Pic: UNFCCC/Mark Garten)

Indian Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan at the UNFCCC talks in Durban. (Pic: UNFCCC/Mark Garten)

The outspoken party is unlikely to change this approach any time soon, and while adaptation is likely to remain a priority, it is unlikely they are going to be pressured into taking on mitigation actions equal to those of developed countries any time soon.

“I don’t see why they would feel the need to suddenly start accepting international demands on what must happen to the climate,” says Pandit.

“The belief there is the largest per capita contributors to the problem have been the developed countries, and frankly until they make a dent in their emissions the issue is not going to be resolved. That opinion is shared quite commonly among a large spectrum of Indians, and there’s no reason why the Modi government will differ from that.”

But it is ultimately the priorities of electorate that determines the content of the parties’ manifestos, as each attempts to score political points over the other. The continued lack of awareness means this will go down as just one more exercise in democracy where climate change was forced into the back seat.

Yet there is something of a disconnect in this, considering the other dominant concern in India at the moment: the oncoming rains.

“What matters to the common man is what the rains are going to be like this season and whether the bread baskets are going to be full. No matter what happens in the elections the monsoons will show us the way,” says Pandit.

“The impact of climate change on the weather is not an easy subject, but more emphasis could be put on it to raise awareness of people, so they can hopefully vote accordingly.”

- See more at: www.rtcc.org/2014/05/19/will-indi…

Will India’s new PM Modi be a climate change champion?

If India’s new BJP leader puts India on the path of sustainable development, he could help save the planet

Pic: Narendra Modi/Flickr

Pic: Narendra Modi/Flickr

By Sophie Yeo

India, the world’s third largest polluter, has just elected a new leader.

This makes Narendra Modi, the dynamic chief of India’s now ruling BJP party, one of the most powerful players in fight against climate change.

Dubbed the “Development Man” during his mammoth election campaign, Modi pushed a vision of prosperity to India: more power, electrified cities, and wealthier citizens. How he chooses to deliver on such a promise has profound implications for the planet over years to come.

A country’s ability to develop largely depends on its energy supply. In the BJP’s election manifesto, its slogan concerning energy is “Generate More, Use Rationally, Waste Less”.

Whether he depends on fossil fuels or renewables to top up electricity supplies in India – a country where around a third of people are still not connected to the national grid – could determine the planet’s chance staying within safe limits of global warming.

“The question is what won’t they do as much as what will they do,” says Nitin Pandit, managing director of World Resources Institute India, one of many observers eager to see if Modi will, for example, move India away from polluting coal as a primary energy source.

But as Modi seeks to push a ferocious agenda of national development, he may find it difficult to reject development proposals that looks “wonderful on paper”, says Pandit, even if it doesn’t strictly adhere to his manifesto pledge to “put sustainability at the centre of our thoughts and actions” – a suitably vague notion that has left experts pondering how much they can expect from India’s new leader.

Development

Delve deeper into the BJP manifesto, and Modi’s climate policies remain mysterious. The focus is not how, but how much energy they are going to be able to produce.

Following in the footsteps of the US, India looks ready to adopt an “all of the above” strategy when it comes to energy: the manifesto promises to “maximize the potential of oil, gas, hydel power, ocean, wind, coal and nuclear”. This includes exploring for and producing more coal, at the same time as advancing India’s solar mission.

Narendra Modi and his competition Rahul Gandhi (Pic: Global Panorama/Flickr)

Narendra Modi and his competition Rahul Gandhi (Pic: Global Panorama/Flickr)

A diverse supply of energy is not without benefits – it creates security of energy supply, and decreases vulnerability to changeable markets – but, says Pandit, “I don’t think the thinking is about diversity per se. It is just being about being able to get more supply, no matter which way.”

Some are optimistic that Modi and his pro-business attitude mean that he will be a force for good in pushing India’s rapidly developing renewables market.

“Modi absolutely believes, and he has publicly stated many times, that he wants to embrace the clean energy model,” says Krishnan Pallassana, executive director of The Climate Group India. “With Modi as prime minister we expect there will be a huge boost to this sector, because he not only talks, he also walks the walk.”

Congress, he adds, whom Modi beat in a landslide victory, had good intentions, but their more “welfare-centric, subsidy-centric” approach failed to deliver the promised results.

An agenda centred around development could indeed be a boon for the planet, if the government succeeds in linking this up to a complementary climate agenda.

While the economy and anti-corruption measures have provided the rallying cry of this election, when the fever has died down, these are the sort of links that the new government could start to make, according to Suruchi Bhadwal, Associate Director of Earth Science and Climate Change at the Energy and Resources Institute in India.

“It may not draw immediate attention, but maybe in a year or two may tap into adaptation mitigation,” she says. And there are parts of the “Modi intelligentsia” who are already beginning to make the link, adds Pandit.

The presidential-style candidate, dominated by Modi’s own dynamism, has also added to hopes that he stands ready to take advantage of renewable energy opportunities if they will spur further development in India. “Given the personality of the person, if there are opportunities to tap into in any area, I think he’s the kind of person who will jump into it hands on,” says Bhadwal.

Gujarat experience

Modi’s stint as chief minister in the Indian state of Gujarat provides something of a backstory to what can be expected from him now that he has the whole of India in his hands.

Under his governance, Gujarat became India’s leader in solar energy, pre-empting the national government by releasing its own solar policy in 2009, a year before the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission was issued.

Of the 1000+ MW installed in the country over the period 2010-2012, over 70% of this belonged to Gujarat. Modi also launched Asia’s first ever government department dedicated to climate change, and even followed in the footsteps of Al Gore, becoming the second politician to pen a book on global warming.

But from thereon, the tale loses some of its glory. Local reports from last year suggest that the climate change department has all but collapsed, and as other states have caught up on Gujarat’s solar revolution, its share of India’s total solar capacity has fallen to around 40%.

This has raised some doubts about his ability to replicate his success in one state across all 29. “I feel there are quite some challenges for him, but he may succeed in some parts. Not all states are at the same level of development, and there are very different institutional capacities across the country,” comments Bhadwal.

International

Modi will also have to familiarise himself with the international politics of climate change – his tenure will overlap with the UN’s attempt in 2015 to sign of a global, legally binding climate deal.

India’s stance at the talks so far has been less than conciliatory, with many issues still remained to be smoothed out between them and other big emitters such as the EU and US.

Indian Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan at the UNFCCC talks in Durban. (Pic: UNFCCC/Mark Garten)

Indian Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan at the UNFCCC talks in Durban. (Pic: UNFCCC/Mark Garten)

The outspoken party is unlikely to change this approach any time soon, and while adaptation is likely to remain a priority, it is unlikely they are going to be pressured into taking on mitigation actions equal to those of developed countries any time soon.

“I don’t see why they would feel the need to suddenly start accepting international demands on what must happen to the climate,” says Pandit.

“The belief there is the largest per capita contributors to the problem have been the developed countries, and frankly until they make a dent in their emissions the issue is not going to be resolved. That opinion is shared quite commonly among a large spectrum of Indians, and there’s no reason why the Modi government will differ from that.”

But it is ultimately the priorities of electorate that determines the content of the parties’ manifestos, as each attempts to score political points over the other. The continued lack of awareness means this will go down as just one more exercise in democracy where climate change was forced into the back seat.

Yet there is something of a disconnect in this, considering the other dominant concern in India at the moment: the oncoming rains.

“What matters to the common man is what the rains are going to be like this season and whether the bread baskets are going to be full. No matter what happens in the elections the monsoons will show us the way,” says Pandit.

“The impact of climate change on the weather is not an easy subject, but more emphasis could be put on it to raise awareness of people, so they can hopefully vote accordingly.”

- See more at: www.rtcc.org/2014/05/19/will-indi…

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 17th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

 

Narendra Modi

Narendra Modi

Narendra Damodardas Modi (born 17 September 1950) is a politician who is the Prime Minister designate of India, after leading the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to a decisive victory in the 2014 Indian general elections. He is a member of the 16th Lok Sabha (House of the People – is the lower house of the Parliament of India. Parliament of India consists of two houses: The Lok Sabha or House of the People and the Rajya Sabha or Council of States. Lok means “people” and Sabha means “assembly” in Sanskrit) - having been elected from the constituencies of Varanasi and Vadodara.
Modi is also the 14th and current Chief Minister of Gujarat – a State of 60 million people - and is expected to resign when taking up to the office of Prime Minister with the seat in New Delhi.
He helped his father sell tea at Vadnagar railway station – a “Chai Wallah” – when a child, and as a teenager he ran a tea stall with his brother near a bus terminus. He completed his schooling in Vadnagar, where a teacher described him as being an average student, but a keen debater who had an interest in theatre     that interest has influenced how he now projects himself in politics.
He is described as a Hindu nationalist by media, scholars and himself. Whoever has been to Varanasi, a place where tourists flock to see what they think is the real image of old India – human body parts floating on the Holy river as funeral pyre left-overs,  will vouch that this must be the most Conservative Hindu location of India – so this is no news. He has been praised for his economic policies, which are credited with creating an environment for a high rate of economic growth in Gujarat – and this is the news Americans and others will be flocking to. Also, despite the immense injustice to him by the G. W. Bush Administration that seemingly loved everything Muslim as they loved oil, it is now a reality that the Muslims of Gujarat voted for him in large numbers as well.
Will the US finally descend from its Pakistani hobby-horse? That is something for Washington to decide if the US will want to attempt new policies for the South Asia // the Indian Sub-Continent that holds one fifth of humanity.
Furthermore, India is by far the largest democracy in the world and it would be foolish to try to teach them the American way of Democracy for Capitalists. So, let the press hold their horses and allow the man to take his own reins in hand.
We found that the Washington Post understands this and their columnist was very outspoken. We hope the political world of Washington read those articles we picked up on the internet – like:Fareed Zakaria: U.S. policy on India, and Modi, needs to change

Mr. Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party won a historic mandate in the country’s general election on Friday, emerging with 282 of 543 parliamentary seats, more than enough to form a government without having to broker a post-election coalition. More then 500 million people voted for him – which was 66% of the actual votes – in a country of 1.2 billion people – that in our calculation says it was 62% of the population which must be closer to 85% or 90% of the electorate. Just compare this with the upcoming May 25, 2014 elections to the European Parliament where the voting is expected not to exceed 40% of the electorate. Now think of democracy please!

For months, Mr. Modi’s advisers had focused on crossing the threshold of 50% which they regarded as a signal that the country was behind an agenda of radical change and they got this!

The nature of that change has never been clear, though. Voters are seeking immediate economic opportunities. The party has proposed pro-business legislation like the easing of labor and land-acquisition laws. Mr. Modi is drawn to large-scale building and infrastructure projects, which he pursues with a single-minded — critics say dictatorial  style.

Addressing a euphoric crowd Friday afternoon, Narendra Modi rallied the public to join him in taking on challenges of a vast scale. He has floated the idea of building “a hundred new cities,” of extending a high-speed rail network across the subcontinent and undertaking the herculean task of cleaning the Ganges River.

He has been inspired by China’s model of high-growth, top-down development. But the country he will govern is India: messy, diffuse and definitely democratic.

“He has a fairly clear idea of what he wants to accomplish, and he does not look for ratification from the market,” said Eswar S. Prasad, a Cornell University economist who has consulted informally with Mr. Modi’s economic team. “
One could argue that in a country where there are far more words than actions thrown around, that this is far more preferable: a man who acts.”

The reality is that ten years ago India was being mentioned as an upward mobile giant like China, but the Gandhi dinasty and the elites that worked with them were full of corruption and managed to enrich some and impoverish the middle classes. India did not reach its promise and the people came out to vote for change. This was a vote to unseat the Congress Party.

As Chief Minister of Gujarat, Modi’s ideas of governance revolved around privatisation and small government, which stood at odds with what political commentator Aditi Phadnis has described as the “anti-privatisation, anti-globalisation position” of the RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) an ideological organization whose fortunes have ebbed and flowed for decades with the influence of Hindu nationalists in New Delhi. RSS is an organization of which Modi was a member since he was 21. The RSS campaigned for him now by bringing out the vote. The group’s leaders describe the current voter-turnout drive as the biggest mobilization since 1977, when RSS workers went door to door encouraging people to vote against Indira Gandhi.
In effect the RSS is the World’s largest NGO – now with some 5 million members, and with a track record of activism and community work dating back to before India’s partition and the fights with Pakistan and China. They ran over 3,000 camps for refugees from Pakistan. Yes, they can be described as Hindu Nationalists, but they are now Indian Nationalists and even Muslims that care for the economy are backing them.
The RSS was founded in 1925 as an educational group to train Hindu men by character-building to unite the Hindu community to counter British colonialism in India and suppress Muslim separatism. Since its foundation it has espoused that nationalist agenda. The group drew inspiration from European right-wing groups during WWII. RSS volunteers participated in various political and social movements including the Indian independence movement. Anti-Colonialism is not a synonym for fascism, though some would like to see it this way for their own reasons.
Photo

A member of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh handed out fliers in the village of Baburi earlier this month for Mr. Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party. Credit Kuni Takahashi for The New York Times

These activists count Mr. Modi as one of their own and see in him a chance to move long-cherished goals to the top of the national agenda. For years, they have sought a rollback of laws and programs tailored to India’s Muslims, the opening of Kashmiri property to buyers from other parts of India, and the redrafting of public school textbooks, among other goals.

As a candidate, Mr. Modi has made economic growth and development his central theme, building a vast electoral base that includes moderates and minority groups. He has pushed traditional Hindu-right projects to the margins of his campaign, and canvassers from the R.S.S. and its affiliates have avoided controversial subjects, limiting themselves mainly to exhortations to vote.

But in interviews, many expressed certainty that, with the election over, Mr. Modi would take action on a religious and cultural agenda. Will this be the case? We doubt it based on the Gujarat experience.

True, Mr. Modi in his private life is a non-corrupt Hindu ascetic. He does not drink or smoke. He does not eat meat, lives by himself and is separated from a wife that was imposed on him by his parents in a traditional children’s wedding. He does Yoga and sleeps only 5 hours a day. Will Mr. Modi be the Deng Xiaopeng of India or its Vladi­mir Putin?

Mr. Modi has practical reasons to distance himself from the Hindu right wing. His campaign, which has won the support of large corporations, has focused on a pledge to attract investment and manufacturing, a goal that demands domestic stability and collides with the R.S.S.’s protectionist tradition. He is known as an independent decision-maker who, in 12 years as leader of the state of Gujarat, regularly resisted attempts by RSS leaders to influence him, journalists who covered his tenure say so.

For decades, the Congress party’s trademark initiatives have been redistributive, and the party introduced a package of major subsidies for the poor before the election. Voters, however, proved to be more captivated by Mr. Modi’s promise to create manufacturing jobs, which he has done quite successfully in Gujarat, the state he has governed since 2001.

The Indian government banned the R.S.S. for 17 months in 1948 after a man associated with the group assassinated Mohandas Gandhi, and for brief periods in the 1970s and 1990s. Its opponents say it fuels religious conflict. For many years, the group has maintained that it has no involvement in Indian politics, saying its mission is focused on character-building. But many of its members have gone on to become candidates for the Bharatiya Janata Party, whose spokeswoman recently referred to the R.S.S. as the party’s “ideological fountainhead.”

the R.S.S. has provided many of the same electoral advantages for the B.J.P. as megachurches in the American heartland do for candidates: a highly disciplined and structured canvassing force, and village-level networks of contacts.

But Friday’s enormous victory will give Mr. Modi “a much freer hand than the typical leader of such a large democracy,” Mr. Prasad said.

The reasons Mr. Modi’s party succeeded in defeating the Indian National Congress, which has controlled India’s government for nearly all of its postcolonial history, will be studied for years. But they clearly reflect a rapid change in Indian society as urbanization and economic growth break down old voting patterns.

A cultural conservative, he is no admirer of the liberal intellectuals who traditionally support the Congress party. Swapan Dasgupta, a journalist who supports Mr. Modi, said Delhi elites were worried — justifiably — that the space for their work would shrink when the new government settles in.

“I cannot say what the contours of the future political elite or political class will look like,” he said. “He has brought in lots of people who have risen from local politics, less of those people who are traditional dynasts. A new sort of people, perhaps a little technocratic. People not from the Anglophone elite, maybe.”

The mood at Congress headquarters on Friday was funereal. Top officials had prepared for a loss, but not for the crushing defeat they faced; according to final results from the Election Commission, the party had secured only 44 seats, a surprisingly low number for the party that was integral to India’s founding narrative.

The president of the Congress party, Sonia Gandhi, and her son, Rahul, made a brief appearance at the headquarters late in the afternoon, when celebratory firecrackers could be heard from B.J.P. headquarters nearby. Mr. Gandhi, who has never appeared comfortable in his role as the party’s standard-bearer, kept an odd, fixed smile on his face, acknowledging that the party had “done pretty badly.” His mother, who reinvigorated the party after her husband, Rajiv, was killed by a suicide bomber in 1991, conceded defeat without mentioning Mr. Modi or the B.J.P.

“We believe that in a democracy winning and losing is part of the game,” Mrs. Gandhi said. “This time the mandate is clearly against us. I accept the mandate with humility. I hope that the incoming government will not compromise with the interests of society.”

A Congress-led coalition won a solid majority of seats in 2009 parliamentary elections, but the term was tarnished by corruption scandals and a slowing economy. Party workers, dully flipping through television news channels in a room with portraits of four generations of Nehru-Gandhi politicians on Friday, complained that the party’s grass-roots workers no longer had contact with Mr. Gandhi and his advisers, and had failed to identify shifts among young voters.

Rajendra Pal Singh, a clerk with the party for more than 30 years, sadly recalled a time when the party faithful streamed in and out of the party’s bungalow as if it were “a place of worship.”

“Gone are the days of the Gandhis,” Mr. Singh said. “We have not seen people coming here to hug Rahul for the past decade on any of those festivals. That culture is dead and long gone, like the Congress party now.”

Addressing a euphoric throng in the city of Vadodara after votes were counted on Friday, Mr. Modi was forced to pause repeatedly as he waited for the audience to stop chanting his name. Mr. Modi, normally an intensely solitary man, draws visible pleasure from his interactions with crowds, and he seemed on Friday to enlist their support for vast undertakings.

“Brothers and sisters, you have faith in me, and I have faith in you,” Mr. Modi said. “This is the strength of our confidence — that we have the capacity to fulfill the common man’s aspirations. The citizens of this country have done three centuries of work today.”

His supporters celebrated. Drummers, stilt-walkers and women in colorful saris converged at B.J.P. headquarters in New Delhi, where party workers had laid out 100,000 laddoos, the ball-shaped sweets that are ubiquitous at Indian celebrations. Among the revelers was Surinder Singh Tiwana, 40, a lawyer.

“I can equate my jubilation today, probably, to my mother’s on the day I was born,” Mr. Tiwana said. “This is a huge change for our country, a change of guard. A billion plus people have announced their mandate in no uncertain terms.”

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My intent in posting this is to point out that a SUSTAINABLE INDIA is possible now. An India that does not suggest the introduction of petroleum products to answer the needs for energy in the villages. An India that develops technologies for the use of its people and that helps clear up the environment without selling out to international corporate interests. Yes – it is possible – and it is imperative if India does indeed move up to its place of destiny – the third largest economy in the world and a population that recognizes progress when it becomes possible when headed by honest government.

Our website’s India page has many links and past postings on India and we are not worried by Mr. Modi’s connections to his Hindu background. We are rather worried by the Washington powers of Globalization that might find it – at their own peril – inconvenient to face an independently minded evolving superpower.

In February this year, The decision by the United States to have its ambassador to India, Nancy Powell, meet Narendra Modi, a star of the country’s Bharatiya Janata opposition party, reversed the long estrangement. It was a pragmatic step in engaging with India and the controversial and troubling politician who could well become the next prime minister after elections in May. A bit late – but nevertheless a token of things that will have to come.

In 2005, the United States imposed a visa ban on Mr. Modi, who was the chief minister of the state of Gujarat, over questions about his role in the savage riots there in 2002 that left nearly 1,000 people dead, most of them part of the Muslim minority. Many Indians felt that Mr. Modi should have done more to stop the violence; some even said he was complicit.

Mr. Modi has denied any wrongdoing, and in 2012 a Supreme Court investigative team declined to bring charges, saying there wasn’t enough evidence. In December, a court in Gujarat drew a similar conclusion. The Obama administration this week said the visa status remains the same, but it seems likely that it could change, especially as now Mr. Modi will become the prime minister. Why did the US never apply such measures against all those oil potentates it brings to Washington in full regalia?

We are sure that Mr. Modi will not bring up bygones, but do not expect from him any bowing as in Yes your Sir!
After all – his culture does not just pre-date the US, but even the British that inspired the US and were the supressors of India.

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Indische Parlamentswahl 2014 Parteien .png

Results of the National and Regional parties by alliances.

The 16th Lok Sabha

Prime Minister before election
Manmohan Singh
UPA
Prime Minister designate
Narendra Modi
BJP

 

Lok Sabha is composed of representatives of the people from 543 constituencies, chosen by direct election on the basis of adult suffrage. A total of 131 seats (18.42%) are reserved for representatives of Scheduled Castes(84) and Scheduled Tribes(47) only. The maximum strength of the House envisaged by the Constitution of India is 552, which is made up by election of up to 530 members to represent the States, up to 20 members to represent the Union Territories and not more than two members of the Anglo-Indian Community to be nominated by the President of India, if, in his/her opinion, that community is not adequately represented in the House. The total elective membership is distributed among the States in such a way that the ratio between the number of seats allotted to each State and the population of the State is, so far as practicable, the same for all States.

Lok Sabha, unless sooner dissolved, continues for five years from the date appointed for its first meeting and the expiration of the period of five years operates as dissolution of the House.

Currently elected members of 16th Lok Sabha by their political party:

Party Won
Bharatiya Janata Party 282
Communist Party of India 1
Communist Party of India (Marxist) 9
Indian National Congress 44
Nationalist Congress Party 6
Aam Aadmi Party 4
All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam 37
All India N.R. Congress 1
All India Trinamool Congress 34
All India United Democratic Front 3
Biju Janata Dal 20
Indian National Lok Dal 2
Indian Union Muslim League 2
Jammu & Kashmir Peoples Democratic Party 3
Janata Dal (Secular) 2
Janata Dal (United) 2
Jharkhand Mukti Morcha 2
Kerala Congress (M) 1
Lok Jan Shakti Party 6
Naga Peoples Front 1
National Peoples Party 1
Pattali Makkal Katchi 1
Rashtriya Janata Dal 4
Revolutionary Socialist Party 1
Samajwadi Party 5
Shiromani Akali Dal 4
Shivsena 18
Sikkim Democratic Front 1
Telangana Rashtra Samithi 11
Telugu Desam 16
All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen 1
Apna Dal 2
Rashtriya Lok Samta Party 3
Swabhimani Paksha 1
Yuvajana Sramika Rythu Congress Party 9
Independent 3
Nominated Seats 2
Total 545

List of constituencies by States/Union Territories

State/Union Territory Number of Parliamentary seats
Andhra Pradesh 42
Arunachal Pradesh 2
Assam 14
Bihar 40
Chhattisgarh 11
Goa 2
Gujarat 26
Haryana 10
Himachal Pradesh 4
Jammu and Kashmir 6
Jharkhand 14
Karnataka 28
Kerala 20
Madhya Pradesh 29
Maharashtra 48
Manipur 2
Meghalaya 2
Mizoram 1
Nagaland 1
Odisha 21
Punjab 13
Rajasthan 25
Sikkim 1
Tamil Nadu 39
Tripura 2
Uttar Pradesh 80
Uttarakhand 5
West Bengal 42
Andaman and Nicobar Islands 1
Chandigarh 1
Dadra and Nagar Haveli 1
Daman and Diu 1
Lakshadweep 1
NCT of Delhi 7
Puducherry 1

 

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Before the final results were in we picked up the following:

FORTUNE – As India’s national election reaches the finish line, the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), led by Narendra Modi, appears the front-runner. Should the BJP win, Modi, a once-highly polarizing figure, on whose watch Hindu-Muslim riots in 2002 claimed about 1000 lives in the Western state of Gujarat, will almost certainly become prime minister of one of the world’s biggest economies.

Modi’s past presents challenges for the United States. Many worry that the denial of a visa to him in 2005 over questions about his responsibility for the riots will derail U.S.-India relations. Due to changed legal circumstances, the visa issue will likely recede (the U.S. denies entry to few, if any, heads of government). What’s more, America’s relationship overall with India has too many components, and there’s too much in the future at stake for both countries to get locked up in the past.

Final results of India’s elections are expected Friday. Modi’s election could certainly mark a new chapter for India. From a U.S. perspective, concerns about the health of Indian secularism will not simply disappear, but they should not derail America’s relationship with the country. If Modi keeps his word and focuses on the economy, and if Washington seizes the opportunity, the United States and India will find a way to continue partnering productively.

But to keep things on track with one of Washington’s most important partners in Asia, the U.S. ought to focus on Modi’s top campaign issue: trade and economics. After all, India is the world’s largest democracy, and on track to become the third largest economy in the world by 2025, and a rising power.

This is not to suggest that Modi’s past doesn’t matter at all. It will undoubtedly discomfit some Americans, making it harder to herald shared values of democratic pluralism and diversity as the ideational core of the U.S.-India bond. Some have also speculated on the other side that Modi may resent the United States for the visa denial, leading to a chilling of bilateral ties. But this only strengthens the argument to place economics and business at the heart of U.S.-India relations.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 19th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Our Planet’s Future Is in the Hands of 58 People
 
By Roberto Savio*
 
ROME, April 19  2014 (IPS)   –   In case you missed it, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released the third and final part of a report on Apr. 13 in which it says bluntly that we only have 15 years left to avoid exceeding the “safe” threshold of a 2°C increase in global temperatures, beyond which the consequences will be dramatic.
 
And only the most myopic are unaware of what these are – from an increase in sea level, through more frequent hurricanes and storms (increasingly in previously unaffected areas), to an adverse impact on food production.
 
Now, in a normal and participatory world, in which at least 83 percent of those living today will still be alive in 15 years, this report would have created a dramatic reaction. Instead, there has not been a single comment by any of the leaders of the 196 countries in which the planet’s 7.5 billion “consumers” reside.
It’s just been business as usual.
 
Anthropologists, who study human beings’ similarity to and divergence from other animals, concluded a long time ago that humans are not superior in every aspect. For instance, human beings are less adaptable than many animals to survive in, for example, earthquakes, hurricanes and any other type of natural disaster.
You can be sure that, by now, other animals would be showing signs of alertness and uneasiness.
 
The first part of the report, released in September 2013 in Stockholm, declared with a 95 percent or greater certainty that humans are the main cause of global warming, while the second part, released in Yokohama at the end of March, reported that “in recent decades, changes in climate have caused impacts on natural and human systems on all continents and across the oceans”.
 
The IPCC is made up of over 2,000 scientists, and this is the first time that it has come to firm and final conclusions since its creation in 1988 by the United Nations.
 
The main conclusion of the report is that to slow the race to a point of no return, global emissions must be cut by 40 to 70 percent by 2050, and that “only major institutional and technological changes will give a better than even chance” that global warming will not go beyond the safety threshold and that these must start at the latest in 15 years, and be completed in 35 years.
 
It is worth noting that roughly half of the world’s population is under the age of 30, and it is largely the young who will have to bear the enormous costs of fighting climate change.
 
The IPCC’s main recommendation is very simple: major economies should place a tax on carbon pollution, raising the cost of fossil fuels and thus pushing the market toward clean sources such as wind, solar or nuclear energy. It is here that “major institutional changes” are required.
 
Ten countries are responsible for 70 percent of the world’s total greenhouse gas pollution, with the United States and China accounting for over 55 percent of that share. Both countries are taking serious steps to fight pollution.
 
U.S. President Barack Obama tried in vain to obtain Senate support, and has used his authority under the 1970 Clean Air Act to cut carbon pollution from vehicles and industrial plants and encourage clean technologies. 
But he cannot do anything more without backing from the Senate.
 
The all-powerful new president of China, Xi Jinping, has made the environment a priority, also because official sources put the number of deaths in China each year from pollution at five million.
 
But China needs coal for its growth, and Xi’s position is: “Why should we slow down our development when it was you rich countries that created the problem by achieving your growth?” And that gives rise to a vicious circle. The countries of the South want the rich countries to finance their costs for reducing pollution, and the countries of the North want them to stop polluting.
 
As a result, the report’s executive summary, which is intended for political leaders, has been stripped of
charts which could have been read as showing the need for the South to do more, while the rich countries
put pressure on avoiding any language that could have been interpreted as the need for them to assume any financial obligations.
 
This should {and we say rather that the word is should - ST.info editor} make it easier to reach an agreement at the next Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), in Lima, where a new global agreement should be reached (remember the disaster at the climate talks in Copenhagen in 2009? {that we really did not call a disaster as thanks to President Obama – it was in Copenhagen that China came first time on board - ST.info editor }).
 
The key to any agreement is in the hands of the United States. The U.S. Congress has blocked any initiative on climate control, providing an easy escape for China, India and other polluters: why should we make commitments and sacrifices if the U.S. does not participate?
 
The problem is that the Republicans have made climate change denial one of their points of identity.
 
They have mocked and denied climate change and attacked Democrats who support carbon taxing as waging a war on coal. The American energy industry financially supports the Republican Party and it is considered political suicide to talk about climate change.
 
The last time a carbon tax was proposed in 2009, after a positive vote by the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives, the Republican-dominated Senate shot it down.
 
And in the 2010 elections, a number of politicians who voted for the carbon tax lost their seats, contributing to the Republican takeover of the House. The hope now for those who want a change is to wait for the 2016 elections, and hope that the new president will be able to change the situation – which is a good example of why the ancient Greeks said that Hope is the last Goddess.
 
And this brings us to a very simple reality. The U.S. Senate is made up of 100 members, and this means that you need 51 votes to kill any bill for a fossil fuels tax. In China, the situation is different, but decisions are taken, in the best of hypotheses, not by the president alone, but by the seven-member Standing Committee of the Central Committee, which holds the real power in the Communist Party.
 
In other words, the future of our planet is decided by 58 persons. With the current global population standing at close to 7.7 billion people, so much for a democratic world!
*Roberto Savio, founder and  president emeritus of the Inter Press Service (IPS) news agency and publisher of Other News.

 

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