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SUSTAINABILITY NEWS ROUND-UP FOR JANUARY & FEBRUARY 2021

SUSTAINABILITY NEWS ROUND-UP FOR JANUARY & FEBRUARY 2021

Your sustainability reckoner for the months of January and February across all the important domains.

Business and Economy

Ashok Leyland Commits to Climate Action

Ashok Leyland recently announced a plan to reduce their carbon emissions. Company spokespersons said that about 60% of its energy input all over India and 75% in Tamil Nadu is sourced from rooftop solar and wind energy plants. Through sourcing their energy from renewable sources, they have offset about 85,000 tonnes of carbon emissions. This amount is equivalent to the positive environmental impact of planting 1,57,487 trees.

Tesla Sets up shop in India

 The global leader in electric cars has set up its first office in Bangalore. Elon Musk’s company is keen to enter the Indian market in a big way and sees immense financial and environmental opportunity. However, the cars imported will attract 50-100% import duties. Experts say that Tesla isn’t necessarily aiming at large volumes of cars being sold in the country but is looking to further its brand image. What this development does is create confidence in the EV sector in India, more so amongst potential buyers who will get to see Tesla being driven around India and be exposed to vehicles run on renewable sources of energy.

International investment in Adani Green Energy

 The French global energy major will acquire a 20% stake in Adani Green Energy (AGEL) for $2.5 billion, marking the third partnership between the two groups since 2019. The company envisions a sustainable energy transformation for India and shares the vision of introducing renewable power at affordable prices with Adani group. The company (AGEL) aims to achieve 25 GW of renewable power generation by 2025, supporting India’s vision of achieving 450GW renewable power by 2030. Total looks at the Indian market as an opportunity to expand its renewable energy business based on two pillars: renewables & natural gas.

Supreme Court Clears Central Vista Project Plans

The Supreme Court has given an environmental clearance for the government’s Central Vista Project. Almost 3 km land, stretching from Rashtrapati Bhavan to India Gate is part of the ambitious plan to construct a new parliament building that can seat 900-1200 MP’s and a new Central Secretariat building too. This project will involve cutting down of thousands of trees for acquiring land required for construction.

Climate change and environment

Uttarakhand’s Glacial Disaster

The recent Uttarakhand disaster was a cold reminder of the impacts of global warming. Glaciers are melting at unprecedented rates in Uttarakhand, putting thousands at risk of natural disasters. The Rishi Ganga Gorge flashflood caused the destruction of a hydro project and caused 34-recorded deaths so far. This disaster further raised serious questions about the feasibility of hydro projects in the state with over 85% of its land vulnerable to floods.

Indo-French Year of the Environment

India and France have launched the Indo-French Year of the environment. This initiative will focus on international cooperation in the fields of tackling climate change, biodiversity conversation, sustainable urban development, environmental protection and the development of renewable energy technology.

India’s Arctic Policy

India announced its new environmental policy titled ‘India’s Arctic Policy Roadmap for Sustainable Engagement’ for the purposes of scientific research, maritime cooperation, economic opportunity and transportation. Policy makers note that they need to gain a better understanding of the linkages between melting ice caps and the monsoons in India.  This policy sheds light on India’s proposed economic and environmental initiatives in the Arctic region for the future.

Indonesian Floods Strike

Over 70,000 homes inundated, 80,000 people displaced and millions of dollars worth of damage- this is the aftermath of the floods that took place in Indonesia earlier in January.

Researchers point out that poor drainage and flooding in coastal areas could be linked with the country’s diminishing mangrove forests. In response to the recent natural calamity, the Indonesian Environmental Ministry has announced a campaign to increase the mangrove forest cover by adding 600,000 hectares of vegetation cover. This will serve to stabilize the coastline and help low-lying populations better deal with future floods.

Green Tax on Transport

In a recent announcement by the ministries of Road Transport and Highways, there will now be a green tax on certain transport vehicles. The proposed green tax will be levied on transport vehicles such as trucks and mini-trucks that are more than 8 years old. The tax will stand at 10-25 percent of road tax and upto 50 percent in the country’s most polluted cities. This tax is a part of the government’s plan to curb the use and production of petrol/diesel in cars and reduce greenhouse emissions from old, poorly maintained vehicles.

PM Modi’s Stance on Climate Change

At a recent virtual conference, PM Modi made his stance on climate change mitigation strategies clear. He said that India not only aims to meet the targets of the Paris Climate Agreement but exceed expectations. The country aims to produce 450 GW of renewable energy by 2030 and restore 26 million hectares of degraded land. This online summit had various policy makers, government officials and respected scientific community leaders who discussed India’s plan to tackle the challenges of global warming through sustainable development techniques.

India Amongst Top 10 countries Most at Risk of Severe Climate Change Impacts

A recent study by an environmental think tank Germanwatch is concerning for India’s future. Researchers suggest that India will face severe economic and environmental challenges due to global warming. For instance, India will face more sever cyclone episodes along its coasts, coastal erosion, inundation and financial losses in the billions. What makes India even more vulnerable is the fact that hundreds of millions of citizens still live in poverty. The country is also expected to face more severe floods, droughts and heat waves in the next decade or so.

The Centre for American Progress  (CAP) and the CEEW recently co-authored a report on renewed climate action collaboration between President Joe Biden and PM Narendra Modi. This is a significant move as both countries can further their work on achieving Paris Climate Agreement goals, promote international leadership on climate change and advance India’s green transition through foreign financing.

Indo-French Year of the Environment

India’s Environmental Ministry and the French Ministry for Ecological Transition have partnered in an initiative called the ‘Indo-French Year of the Environment’. 2021-22 will be a year of cooperation between the two countries to tackle climate change through cooperation and discussions on phasing out single-plastic use, establishing solar power alliances and sustainable urban development techniques.

US Rejoins Paris Climate Accord

After Former President Trump decided to leave the Paris Climate Agreement during his presidency, there was a large shadow of doubt around US’s stance on climate change and progressive environmental policy. However, to the international community’s delight, President Joe Biden seems to have clarified America’s position on climate change by rejoining the agreement within his first few days in office. This is a positive signal for the various inter-governmental climate change coalitions, scientific communities and concerned citizens in their fight against the ill effects of climate change and mitigation strategies going forward.

Culture and Lifestyle

India Craft Week

The third edition of the India Craft week is taking lace from the 18th-21st February. This opportunity gives local artisans from across the country to showcase their sustainably produced handicrafts and in turn increase their consumer base. This is an event that promotes the local artforms and industries, helping financially uplift thousands of people each year.

Energy and Resources

Hydrogen Mission to Ensure a Clean Energy Future

India recently launched the National Hydrogen Mission as a means to ensure a cleaner energy future for its citizens. This plan will involve investment and public-private partnerships in the production of green and blue hydrogen to be distributed through gas pipelines and smart grids. The inclusion of this plan in th budget is a clear indication that the Indian government recognizes the country’s abundance of the natural gas and aims at developing technologies and infrastructure for hydrogen production.

The Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis recently published a report which sheds light on the $500 billion investment India needs to achieve its 450 GW renewable energy target by 2030. A huge pool of investors have their eyes set on the environmental and financial potential the Indian renewable energy sector in India presents. These investors include hedge funds, investment banks, multinational development banks and sovereign wealth funds.

Food and Agriculture

Partnership for Sugarcane Cultivation

At the end of last month, the public-private partnership for the implementation of the FDW Sugarcane programme to promote water-efficient methods of agriculture was forged. This move is much needed since sugarcane cultivation employs almost 6 million in India and is traditionally a water-intensive crop. The programme will aim at using artificial intelligence technology; provide financing options for farmers to adopt water-efficient mechanisms and opportunities for sustainability certifications.

Health and Wellbeing

Woes of Air Pollution in Delhi

Last year in 2020 alone, unhealthy air claimed over 54,000 lives. More specifically, it is the hazardous PM 2.5 particles that caused ailments such as asthma, lung cancer and heart failure. With the population and pollution only increasing in the capital, we are now faced with an ongoing public health crisis that is here to say unless appropriate adaptation and mitigation methods are implemented.

Budget Prioritizes Healthcare

The budget has allocated 64,800 crores to the development of the healthcare sector over the next five year. This amount is more than 15% of what was allocated the previous budget. The pandemic has made the deficiencies in our public healthcare sector very apparent for the public. This move can help India build resilience mechanisms and healthcare infrastructure to deal with a scenario of this kind in the future. This scheme will boost the development of healthcare facilities for people in rural areas too, with several hospital projects proposed to provide affordable and quality to millions of Indians.

Technology and Innovation

Building Solutions for Sustainable Mobility

India and Sweden are collaborating to host a digital mobility hackathon later this month. This event will bring together students, businesses and entrepreneurs who will work towards creating solutions for sustainable transportation and mobility. Participants will work towards creating concept proofs to deal with carbon emissions, sustainable logistics and inefficient traffic systems.

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