India increased the use of coal to generate electricity to stop outages and meet record demand as the country faces driest August in over a 100 years. The output from hydropower and renewables sources is not enough to deal with the “unusual” spike in the electricity use August, when temperatures are lower due to the annual monsoon that runs between June and September, reported Reuters adding that demand typically peaks in May, when the air-conditioners are turned on and industries operate without rain-related disruptions.
This August power generation surged to a record 162.7 billion kilowatt hours (units), a Reuters analysis of data from the federal grid operator Grid India showed. Coal’s share in power output rose to 66.7% in August – the highest for the month in six years, according to a Reuters analysis of government data. Due to weak monsoon the share of hydro power in overall output dropped 14.8%, compared with 18.1% in the same period last year.
Higher LPG price, lack of awareness deter low-income households to use cleaner fuels: Study
According to a new study, lack of access to LPG cylinders, knowledge of government schemes and high pricing of cylinders are among major deterrents for low-income households to switch from polluting fuels such as biomass to cleaner LPG. The study conducted by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in collaboration with ASAR highlights how rising fuel prices along with the removal of government subsidies make the LPG cylinder unaffordable. Low-income households, therefore, turn to biomass, or use biomass along with LPG. The study suggests that policy interventions could increase awareness about the 5-kg LPG cylinder and provision of flexible payment options such as installment payments through existing SHG networks and local banking systems could be helpful to aid transition. In response to the study, the Centre has said that the ease of access to LPG cylinders has increased since 2014, with the number of LPG bottling plants and distributorships increasing from 187 and 13,896 to 208 and 25,398, respectively, as of July 1, 2023.
Fossil fuel subsidies hit record $1.3 trillion surge: IMF
A new report by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has found that despite repeated government pledges to cut back on fossil fuel subsidies, there was a record $1.3 trillion surge in 2022. It looked at both explicit and implicit subsidies for fossil fuels across 170 countries and found explicit subsidies alone had more than doubled since the previous IMF assessment, rising from $500 billion in 2020 to $1.3 trillion in 2022 as governments rushed to mitigate the inflationary impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the spike in demand caused by the economic recovery from Covid-19. IMF also calculated implicit fossil fuel subsidies, which include the cost of things such as undercharging for environmental costs and failing to levy taxes on consumption. The total subsidies rose to $7 trillion in 2022, an increase of $2 trillion compared to 2020.
Ecuador voters reject oil drilling in Amazon’s Yasuni National Park
In a move hailed as historic by environmental activists, voters in Ecuador have passed a referendum to prohibit oil drilling in a protected area of the Amazon rainforest. Almost 60 percent of voters supported the ban on oil development in the Yasuni National Park. The referendum started in 2007, when then-President Rafael Correa announced that Ecuador would refrain from oil exploration in Block 43 if rich nations compensated the poverty-stricken country through establishment of a $3.6 billion fund, equal to 50% of the projected revenue from the block. Home to 610 species of birds, 139 species of amphibians and 121 species of reptiles, the national park was designated by UNESCO as a biosphere reserve in 1989. The park is also a safe haven to Tagaeri and Taromenani who live in voluntary self-isolation and several Indigenous communities.