Climate Action Summit: Mostly smoke, little fire

Newsletter - September 17, 2019

Climate Action Summit: Mostly smoke, little fire

Early this month, the AFP published a damning report on a leaked draft of the yet-to-be-published IPCC special report on the Cryosphere and Oceans. The 900-page draft scientific assessment, due to be published next month, warns of dire consequences, including the displacement of hundreds of millions, even under optimistic emission reduction scenarios. As all eyes turn towards UN secretary general António Guterres’ Climate Action Summit to see how countries respond to his call for “concrete plans, and not just speeches”, the tone of the report has assumed importance as member states are slated to receive summaries for consideration during the summit. The World Meteorological Organisation, too, is due to present its State of Global Climate report, which highlights increasingly untenable climate change impacts.

Over the past couple of years, the scientific community has amped up its message on the severity of the situation, and ominous scientific assessments of climate impacts and actions have come thick and fast. Parallelly, the UN has stepped up its own calls for greater urgency in action from countries. But while the UN has put up a confident front on achieving increased ambitions during the climate action summit, nations seem less than prepared to move beyond the usual platitudes reserved for such forums.

As it stands, the picture isn’t rosy. While the world is set to breach the 1.5 degree mark by 2040, even successful implementation of the Paris Agreement would lead to warming by up to 3-4 degree Celsius. Several assessments have now pointed at the stark inadequacy of current commitments. 

But while the shrillness and volume of calls for action have undoubtedly increased along with evidence of dire consequences of inaction, the response from nations, especially large emitters, has been deafeningly silent. As far as current commitments go, large emitters of GHG, including the US, Canada, Russia, China, Saudi Arabia, Japan, Australia and Turkey, are critically inadequate to limit global warming under 2 degrees Celsius. And there has been little reason to expect any improvement. While the US administration continues its effort to dismantle any climate regulations, Brazil’s Bolsonaro government has repeatedly expressed disdain towards the Paris Agreement and has eliminated 95% of the country’s environment ministry budget. The EU, too, faces internal disagreements over decarbonisation of energy systems and further disruption as the UK, one of the bloc’s largest economies, exits the union. In Australia, climate policy has been deteriorating with the government intent on pushing coal despite urgent calls by several Pacific Islands. Over months of repeated prodding by the UN, only a handful of countries (notably including the UK, Chile, and Norway), who account for less than 2% of global GHG emissions, have agreed to carbon neutrality by 2050.

Among developing economies, after India made it clear enough that it would not increase its ambitions beyond Paris Agreement levels, the UN has turned its attention towards China as a potential leader in increasing ambitions. Although latest projections see the country achieving peak energy demand years ahead of earlier estimates and China’s official line is that it is committed to climate action, it has so far refrained from committing to any increased ambitions. Although it has aggressively pushed renewable energy and has improved emission norms domestically, China continues to invest in thermal power overseas, particularly in Belt and Road countries. So will Guterres’ much-talked about Climate Action Summit see some concrete announcements or will it just be another hollow acknowledgement of the brewing crisis? The signs are clear, and unfortunately, they do not evoke optimism.

Climate Science

Mounting toll: Monsoon fury returned to India with flooding reported from several states, over 1400 people have died and more than 10 million have been affected by flooding this year according to the MHA | Photo:

Death toll due to floods has crossed 1400 this year, says MHA as North India faces fury

Heavy rains lashed several north Indian states this past week. While parts of Rajasthan, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh experienced debilitating floods, MP was hit the worst where preliminary assessments estimate that 220 lives were lost and damage worth Rs10,000 crore was incurred during the floods. Central teams are currently reviewing the situation in MP and other affected states. According to the Ministry of Home Affairs, 1,400 people have died so far this year due to floods and over 10 million have been affected.

India lost 31% of its grassland in 10 years

India lost 31% (5.65 million hectares) of grassland between 2005 and 2015, according to data presented by the Indian government to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) during the ongoing 14th Conference of Parties (COP). The number has fallen from 18 mha to 12.3 mha, the government informed. Worst hit was the Aravalli range in Rajasthan followed by other states such as Maharashtra, Karnataka, Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh, the report stated.

The main factors for the decline, as per the report, were direct and indirect. Direct factors included overgrazing, poor management and deforestation, while the indirect factors were conversion of pastures into cropland through encroachment and diversion and allotment driven by increasing population pressure.

2019 on pace to becoming one of the most disastrous years recorded

A new report by the Internal Displacement Monitoring Center, which compiles data from governments, United Nations humanitarian agencies and media reports, has revealed that a record 7 million people were displaced from their homes in just the first half of 2019 due to extreme weather events. The number is the highest mid-year figure to be reported by the data centre in over 15 years of data compilation. Tellingly, the first six months of 2019 saw nearly twice as many people displaced by extreme weather events as people displaced by conflict and violence.

Weeks after devastating Hurricane Dorian, Bahamas escapes fury of Tropical Storm Humberto

A couple of weeks after being battered by Hurricane Dorian, the Bahamas narrowly escaped the fury of Tropical Storm Humberto this fortnight. The Category 5 Dorian destroyed much of the Grand Bahamas and the Abaco Islands and the official death toll stands at 50, but officials said the number if likely to rise as more people are identified.

Tropical activity has been average in the Atlantic basin, according to AccuWeather, which has forecasted 12-14 tropical storms, five to seven hurricanes and two to four major hurricanes this year. 

New ‘hotzones’ identified across the world

A recent analysis found several locations across the globe that have warmed by over 2°C over the past century. According to analysis, around 20% of the globe has already warmed by 1.5°C – the point at which climate change impacts are accelerated. The areas that have warmed the fastest are the Arctic, the Middle East, Europe and Northern Asia. A major chunk of Canada is at 2°C or higher. In the past 5 years, 8-11% of the globe crossed the 2°C threshold.  

Carbon capture not done enough to stall climate change

Scientists and industry officials have warned that very little difference has been achieved by capturing planet-warming gases and storing them underground, one of the main methods to stall climate change. Andrew Cavanagh, an emissions storage researcher at Scotland’s University of Edinburgh says in Europe, capacity to store CO2, captured from power plants, industries or straight from the air – is only a thousandth of what is needed. “We’re so far off trend it makes you wonder what we’re doing,” he told a conference in the English city of Oxford this week on efforts to rapidly slash emissions.
Bjorn Haugstad, head of climate, industry and technology at Norway’s energy ministry, also feels the same. He said, “We are struggling with making a good business case for CCS.”  Haugstad said,plans for carbon capture and storage (CCS) seemed both “inevitable but impossible”.

Climate change affecting the game of cricket: Report

An unlikely victim of climate change has emerged – cricket. According to a new report, heatwaves, droughts and storms because of climate change are increasing the risks to the game. While the increasing humidity and heat impacts the players and spectators, droughts are likely to affect the pitch conditions. A case in point is the erratic rainfall patterns in the UK that have washed out many matches, according to the report titled ‘Hit for six’, which was presented to the World Cricket Committee. The report recommends allowing players to wear shorts in particularly humid and hot conditions, developing protective gear that will keep players cool.

Ozone hole over Antarctica this year smallest it’s been in 30 years: Scientists

Is the ozone hole over Antarctica closing? The EU’s Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS) says the hole seen over the region this year could be the smallest seen in three decades. According to the agency, the hole is also off-centre and far away from the pole.China, meanwhile, which was criticised earlier this year by a study, which found the country was responsible for nearly half of the global rise in the banned ozone-destroying refrigerant CFC-11, has said it is facing ‘new challenges’ in its fight to crackdown on the production of the chemical.

Climate Policy

Dialogue of dilution: The UNCCD COP 14, held in Delhi, was marred with an all-too-familiar lack of ambition and ended with little clarity on the way forward in dealing with land degradation | Photo: Ángeles Estrada, IISD/ENB

UNCCD COP 14: Diluted Delhi Declaration presented, but business leaders keen to help restore degraded land

The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) 14th Conference of Parties (COP) was held this past fortnight with the big news predictably being the release of the New Delhi Declaration, which aims to address the issue of land degradation and desertification. But the document was more in the news for the way in which the final version, which had been majorly diluted from the leaked draft version.

The final version downplayed the links between climate action and degradation, and has steered clear of any specifics regarding partnerships and synergies between the different parallel conventions as well as funding agencies despite featuring in the draft. Worryingly, adaptation has also been skipped in the declaration as an important aspect of resilience against land degradation and drought. The importance of land tenures, indigenous peoples and forest ecosystems have all been removed after being included in the draft version.

Apart from the declaration, the UNCCD also discussed other topics related to land degradation. According to a report tabled at the conference, the poor were impacted the most by land degradation. The reason: One of the consequences of land degradation is migration. But not all the people under environmental stress are in a financial position to migrate, and the problem will only increase if proper measures are not undertaken. On a more positive note, business leaders at the conference called for encouraging public-private partnerships to restore degraded land.

Local authorities in Mumbai still haven’t mapped out flood-risk zones years after 2005 deluge: Supreme Court panel

Even 12 years after the 2005 deluge caused by a swollen Mithi river, which submerged a majority of Mumbai, local authorities such as the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and the Mumbai Metropolitan Development Authority (MMRDA) had still not prepared a flood-risk zone maps – this was what a Supreme Court-appointed committee found in its report submitted to the court in March 2018. The report also pointed to the structural issues in the way the Mithi river has been widened post the deluge.

UN agency censoring itself on climate crisis after pressure from US, suggests leaked email

UN’s migration agency is censoring itself on the climate crisis and the global compact on migration largely after pressure from the US government. This was determined based on a leaked email by a US-based official of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) on 28 August to colleagues around the world.

The email stated that the US state department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM) told the migration agency that documents related to programme activities it funds “must not be in conflict with current [US government] political sensitivities”. The official wrote that these sensitivities include the climate crisis and sustainable development goals and the global compact for migration and stated that any documents related to the programme activities “may require prior review and approval by the donor”. According to The Guardian’s sources, the agency is now avoiding direct references to climate change in documents for projects funded by other US government entities such as USAid.

Amazon countries sign pact to protect the forest, as warring tribes unite against Bolsonaro

Seven Amazonian countries have vowed to protect the world’s largest tropical forest, which has been ravaged by recent wildfires. On the agenda is better disaster response coordination and satellite monitoring. These countries include Colombia, Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru, Brazil, Suriname and Guyana. The group has also vowed to work on reforestation, improve the monitoring of deforestation and increase the role of indigenous communities in sustainable development.

Speaking of indigenous communities, warring tribes living in the Amazon’s Xingu river basin have united against Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro’s administration. Representatives of 14 indigenous groups and four riverside reserves met this fortnight to discuss the forest fires, which many believe have been deliberately started. The group has decided to form a representative council to form a stronger political voice. 

Investing in climate adaption can yield trillions in economic benefits

A new report has highlighted the economic benefits of climate adaption. The report, written by the Global Commission on Adaptation, has suggested that investing $1.8 trillion between 2020 and 2030 in projects to help communities adapt to the worsening impacts of climate change could yield $7.1 trillion in economic benefits. It points to five areas where investment is urgently required — early warning systems, climate-resilient infrastructure and water resources, dryland agriculture and mangrove protection.

According to the commission, the return on investments in building up climate resilience can range from 2:1 to 10:1. The report warned that if steps are not taken to address the issue, more than 100 million people could be pushed below the poverty line by 2030.

Humans spending $1 million per minute on global farm subsidies: Study

The world is spending $1 million per minute on farm subsidies, which are one of the primary drivers of the climate crisis and wildlife destruction, according to a new report. The analysis found that only 1% of the $700 billion a year given to farmers is used to protect the environment. A majority of the money leads to high-emission cattle production, forest destruction and pollution from fertiliser overuse.

An alternative solution to the issue of supplying cheap food, according to the report, would be to produce healthy, sustainable food, which would cut food prices as the condition of the land improves.

Glasgow to host COP 26 to be held next year

Glasgow in the United Kingdom will host the next United Nations climate change summit, COP 26, to be held in 2020. Italy will host preparatory events as part of the agreement between both countries. The meet assumes even more significance because it will likely be held just before the next US presidential elections. 2020 is also the year governments are due to review their promises to cut carbon emissions. Turkey, which was in close contest with the UK to host the summit, withdrew its bid, leaving the joint UK-Italy proposal the only bid on the table.

Air Pollution

Bad air days: Delhi is gearing up for its dreaded winter months during which air quality in the national capital region plummets, with a return to the contentious Graded Response Action Plan | Photo: Hindustan Times

Delhi to bring back odd-even traffic plan, study says emergency measures failing to curb pollution

Delhi’s chief minister Arvind Kejriwal plans to bring back the odd-even scheme for private vehicles on the roads from November 1 to November 14. Delhi will also introduce 1,000 electric buses to fight pollution, the CM said.

The Delhi government claimed that “emergency” anti-air pollution measures such as the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) and the odd-even traffic scheme had brought pollution levels down by 25% compared to levels before 2016. But the latest study by United Residents Joint Action (URJA), an apex body of around 2,500 resident welfare associations (RWAs) in the Capital, found gaps in the enforcement and understanding of GRAP amongst officials.  Experts say it is wrong to compare levels before and after 2016. Until 2015, air pollution monitoring was weak and data was not available for most stations. URJA pointed out that in 2018, Delhi had five good air quality days, 66 moderately polluted, 145 poor quality, 57 very poor quality and 92 severely polluted days, according to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB). The board warned state agencies of prosecution if they fail to address pollution complaints: 79% complaints are pending with the Delhi Pollution Control Committee, 47% with the North Delhi Municipal Corporation, 44% with the East Delhi Municipal Corporation, 28% with the South Delhi Municipal Corporation and 44% with the Delhi Development Authority.

The URJA report says since exposure to pollution for just an hour is sufficient to trigger diseases and respiratory issues, aggregated average numbers over three years hide the hassle and gravity of impact from sudden spikes and sustained exposure. Meanwhile, a plea has been filed in India’s green court National Green Tribunal (NGT) against Kejriwal’s odd-even plan claiming that it has been recommended on the findings of “foreign countries”. 

Bombay HC unsatisfied with govt response, orders assessment of Mahul air quality to determine fitness for human habitation

Prepare a comparative chart of surveys on air quality in Mahul to assess whether air quality has deteriorated or improved since 2015, that’s the Bombay high court (HC) order to the petitioners opposing the rehabilitation of project-affected persons (PAPs) living along the Tansa pipeline to Mahul. The national green tribunal (NGT), in a 2015 order, had said the ambient air quality of Mahul was not conducive for human habitation. The HC, which was informed of this assessment, has also stayed the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) drive to evict people living along the Tansa pipeline till the matter is decided. The advocate for the petitioners claimed that resettlement quarters had been planned directly in the line of pollutant-carrying air emitted by oil refineries, power plants and fertilizer industries. Although the state government and the BMC special counsel contended that the air quality in Mahul was similar to most of Mumbai and that it had improved since the NGT order, the HC bench expressed dissatisfaction with their submissions.

Lancet singles out indoor air pollution as key heart risk factor in India

A Lancet study has said 12% of of cardiovascular diseases in low-income countries are caused by indoor air pollution.  The report is one of two from a study by the Prospective Urban and Rural Epidemiologic (PURE), both published online in The Lancet and presented at the European Society of Cardiology 2019. One report looks at common diseases, hospitalisation and death, while the other at CVD risk factors in middle-aged adults in 21 countries.


The shock doctrine: The central government has warned DISCOMs from seven states that continued non-payment of dues to generators could see them dragged to the NCLT for debt recovery | Photo: Business Today

India’s power minister cautions 7 states over mounting discom dues

Union power minister RK Singh has warned state discoms that if they don’t clear their dues of around ₹5,355 crore, they could be dragged by power producers to the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) for the recovery of payments. The minister said power producers are likely to default on their payments due to non-clearance of dues by discoms. Andhra discoms have the largest outstanding dues of ₹2,000 crore, followed by Tamil Nadu ( ₹1,892.54 crore) and Telangana ( ₹1,565.08 crore). Due to large pending payments, many renewable energy power producers may default in making payments to Ireda (Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency) and other financial institutions. Any default would make them NPAs (non-performing assets). Renewable power producers’ outstanding dues have reached over ₹8,000 crore.

Meanwhile, Singh said the Centre was set to launch a new tariff policy, UDAY 2.0, to resolve the issue of discom losses, without which 24-hour power supply won’t be possible.

Intent is not to terminate solar & wind PPAs but to arrive at mutually agreed tariff: AP Govt

Andhra Pradesh government has told court that state discoms were not trying to change Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) and unilaterally reduce tariffs, but they were “exploring options”. The state lawyers said the government has the right to attempt to bring DISCOMs and renewable energy developers to the table to negotiate tariffs for which PPAs have already been signed. Therefore, the state government is competent to appoint the High-Level Negotiation Committee (HLNC) to manage power purchase by DISCOMs in Andhra Pradesh, Mercom reported.

Ten-fold growth needed in India’s rooftop solar installation to reach 40 GW target: MNRE

To achieve 40 GW solar rooftop target India’s cumulative rooftop solar installation will have to grow 10 fold, says the latest report by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE). The report titled “SARAL: State rooftop solar attractiveness index” for financial year 2018-19, shows progress in some states. Over the past one year, Maharashtra has added more than 450 MW of rooftop solar capacity. Delhi introduced the most detailed net-metering regulations and Karnataka introduced a comprehensive e-portal that acts as a single-window clearance for all applications, the report said. Karnataka topped the SARAL index with a score of 78.8. Other top scorers included Telangana, Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh.

Centre’s subsidised benchmark cost for rooftop solar for individual households is 54/W

The Centre issued a clarification on subsidies for grid-connected rooftop solar installations for individual residential households. Rooftop solar installations up to 3 kW will get 40% subsidy. Installations above 3 kW, and up to 10kW, will get a subsidy of 40% for the first 3 kW and 20% for the remaining capacity, and for installations above 10 kW, it is 40% for the first 3kW and 20% for the remaining 7kW. There’s no subsidy beyond 10 kW capacity. The benchmark cost for the rooftop solar system, up to 10 kW, is ₹54 (~$0.75)/W for 2019-20. Considering the cost calculated through tenders is ₹50 (~$70)/W, the subsidy would be calculated on ₹50 (~$70)/W being lower than the benchmark cost, Mercom reported.

Rajasthan’s Solar Policy 2019 aims for 25 GW by 2020-21

The Indian state of Rajasthan has launched a solar policy targeting 25GW of solar capacity in the next 2 years and 50GW over the next six years to meet its renewables purchase obligations (RPOs), Mercom reported. Rajasthan has 3.5 GW of solar capacity as of Q2 2019, with 442 MW of solar projects under development. The state plans to promote decentralized grid-connected projects, rooftop solar, utility-scale solar, solar parks and solar-based electric vehicle charging stations through its policy.

Centre postpones solar auction for the third time, but unveils plan for large state-run solar parks

The Centre had to postpone 1200 MW solar tender for the third time, as developers didn’t show interest despite tariff ceilings were increased ( ₹ 2.65 to ₹2.68 per unit). Tariff ceilings, land acquisition risks and diminishing liquidity in financial markets have been keeping solar investors away, experts say. Two auctions conducted by the Centre’s Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) earlier this month received just two bidders each. According to Bridge to India, number of bidders in the renewable energy market has fallen from over 200 in 2015 to only 31 in 2019.

In a separate development, state-run companies such as NTPC Ltd, NLC India Ltd and Power Grid Corp. of India Ltd are being roped in to construct “ultra mega renewable energy power parks (UMREPP)”. These parks with capacities of 2,000 MW are expected to cost around $2 billion each and are being planned across several solar and wind rich states.

NSEFI expresses reservations on domestic component requirement KUSUM pumps

After holding consultations with industry stakeholders, the National Solar Energy Federation of India (NSEFI), has expressed concerns about the mandatory domestic content requirement of the KUSUM program. According to the industry coalition, the objectives of KUSUM to facilitate installation of 10,000 MW of decentralized ground-mounted grid-connected renewable power projects, 1.75 million standalone solar-powered agriculture pumps and 1 million grid-connected solar-powered agriculture pumps completely are challenging and progress is likely to be hampered by lack of clarity regarding payment mechanisms for manufacturers and disbursement mechanisms to be followed by DISCOMs.

India, China to cooperate in R&D for developing efficient solar cell

Niti Aaayog has said India and China will cooperate in research and development of new technology for manufacturing solar cell from alternate material, and improve the efficiency of solar cells. This was decided during the sixth India-China Strategic Economic Dialogue, held recently. Both countries will form six standing joint working groups to address economic and commercial issues across infrastructure, energy, high-tech, resource conservation, pharmaceuticals and policy coordination.

India’s solar installations fall 14% to 1.5 GW in June quarter

India’s solar installations fell 14% to 1,510 megawatts (MW) in the second quarter of 2019, compared to 1,761 MW in the previous quarter. Solar installations were also lower on a year-on-year (y-o-y) basis and had stood at 1,665 MW in the corresponding April-June 2018 quarter, the report said. Solar installations in the first half of 2019 were 3.2GW, which was a shocking 35% less compared with 5.1GW of solar capacity installed in the first half of 2018. Mercom attributed the drop in the second quarter of 2019 to a slowdown in rooftop solar installations and partial-commissioning of solar projects. The report expects India to install over 8GW of solar in 2019 and estimated 70 GW solar installations by 2022.

Study says US solar market to slowdown in 2019, but its forecast for next 5 years raised by 7GW

The latest quarterly report by US solar lobby and Wood Mackenzie predicts slowdown in the solar market, as large projects are shifted to 2020. The study forecast 17% growth in 2019 to 12.6 GW, down from the previous forecast of 25% for this year. The report, however, raises the five-year growth forecast by 6.7GW citing strong solar commitment from utilities. Over 20% of the demand from 2019 to 2024 is expected to come from corporations, who have pledged to shift to renewables to power their operations, Reuters reported. But this lukewarm trend in the sector hasn’t stopped the UN from projecting a robust outlook for RE. The latest UN study says global investments in renewable energy sector will reach $2.6 trillion by 2020, more than triple the amount compared to the previous decade.

Electric Vehicles

All charged up: Tamil Nadu’s ambitious new EV policy is filled with sops to encourage purchase of EVs and the setting up of charging infrastructure across the state | Photo: Economic Times

Tamil Nadu exempts road tax for all commercial EVs under new EV policy

Tamil Nadu has decided to charge zero road tax for all categories of commercial EVs, and will double the exemption for private electric car owners from 50% to 100%. The new policy also stresses the need to use clean energy for charging infrastructure, and units will be set up along the state’s highways every 25km.

India: No ban on conventional vehicles, Centre mulls GST rate cuts instead

India’s government has now clarified that it will not ban any conventional automobiles to boost EV sales. Conventional vehicles sales are currently undergoing a severe slowdown and Union minister Nitin Gadkari has instead proposed that their GST rates may be lowered to help automakers attract more buyers. The announcement seems to be a reaction to urgent pleas by automakers to help revive their sales, and could be an indication of the government falling back on its bullish, pro-EV stance. 

BASF ties up with French firms for li-ion battery recycling

Germany’s chemicals giant BASF will tie up with France’s Eramet & Suez to begin operation on the ReLieVe lithium ion battery recycling project from January 2020. BASF estimates that up to 50,000 tonnes of EV batteries may need to be recycled across Europe by 2027 and 500,000 by 2035 — and BASF would help in the partnership by producing newer and better cathode materials. Suez would be tasked with dismantling used battery packs, while Eramet is slated to recycle their components.

Blistering fast 800V Taycan by Porsche goes one up on Tesla

Porsche has doubled the operating voltage in its all-electric Taycan from 400V to 800V, which enables the car to be recharged from 5% to up to 80% in a mere 22.5 minutes. The technology is a major upgrade as running on 880V makes the car lighter by using less wiring, and its motors run cooler due to lighter draw on current. The car does, however, need Porsche’s 350kW fast chargers — which is much more than even Tesla’s topline superchargers (150kW).

Fossil Fuels

Pulling the plug on coal: Gujarat and Chhattisgarh, two states with a significant number of thermal power plants, have decided to ditch coal and focus solely of renewables for new energy projects | Photo: NTPC

No new coal plants for Gujarat, Chhattisgarh

The Gujarat government has announced that the state will not build any new coal plants going forward. Its 8-9% annual appreciation in power demand will be met primarily by solar power. Gujarat’s current coal-fired capacity has been languishing at PLFs as low as 40%, and the state’s decision to plow ahead with solar comes despite it currently purchasing solar power at tariffs as high as Rs.15/kWh.

And India’s coal mining heart of Chhattisgarh will also stop bringing any new thermal power plants online as the state has decided to also go for solar power for new energy demand. Its thermal power plants are reportedly under-utilised and the state is keen to take advantage of the cheaper solar power, for which it has already sanctioned a 100MW plant.

India: Major changes in UDAY 2.0 to boost DISCOMs’ efficiencies, CEA proposes 50% upfront payment

India’s power minister has said that the government would soon launch UDAY 2.0, under which it will unveil several new policies to boost DISCOMs’ efficiencies and performances. These will include penalties for load shedding, disbursement of Centre and state funds only after the DISCOMS take demonstrable steps to reduce their losses, and the setting up of new police stations to fight power theft. UDAY 2.0, if approved by the Cabinet, will also restrict payment under-recovery by DISCOMS to only 15% of the total — and the rest will have to be borne by the DISCOM itself, or the respective state government.

And the CEA, too, has proposed that DISCOMS pay 50% of the payment to power producers upfront (starting from 25% for the first month) to ensure that the latter are assured of their dues. If they aren’t paid, they have been advised to drag the DISCOMS to court.

Coal India to continue fueling inefficient plants as high level panel recommends privatisation

Coal India has decided to drop a plan that would have cut supplies to old, inefficient thermal power plants, and will instead maintain usual supplies so as not to disrupt power sector supplies. The plan was floated by a government panel to only support efficient operations, and would have cut NTPC’s quota by 32 million tonnes a year, Mahagenco’s by 13 million tonnes and DVC’s by 5 million tonnes.

Late last week, a high level committee comprising cabinet secretary, Department of Economic Affairs secretary, revenue secretary, coal secretary and Niti Aayog vice-chairman recommended sweeping reforms in the coal sector including privatisation. The committee also suggested moving away from any allocations of captive coal mines and the shifting of all concessions to commercial mining.

CarbonTracker: Big Oil approved $50 billion in new oil & gas projects since last year

A new analysis by CarbonTracker shows that prominent oil and gas firms have approved up to $50 billion in new fossil fuel projects since last year — squarely against any hopes of containing global warming to less than 1.5°C. The names include BP, Shell, ExxonMobil, Chevron and Total, and the analysis reports that 30% of their investments last year were made in projects that would even breach 1.6°C of global warming — despite their explicit pledges to diversify into renewables. The report concludes that if the trend continues, up to $2.2 trillion of investments could be “wasted” if and when national governments tighten up their fossil fuel regulations.