GROUND REPORT: Drought in Odisha, Extreme rain in Punjab

Newsletter - July 25, 2018

Must get on with it: Climate change is intensifying droughts and heavy rains in India, derailing everyday life

GROUND REPORT: Drought in Odisha, Extreme rain in Punjab

This report on water crisis in the Mahanadi basin (Odisha & Chhattisgarh), staring at a fourth drought in a row, blames crisis on desertification caused by Hirakud dam, its over 58000 hectares of drowned forests, and methane emissions.In Punjab, extreme rain, exacerbated by climate change, forced the cotton farmers of Muktsar district to shift from cotton to grow rice. Cotton crops “drowned in 4-5 feet of water”. 75% of 150 paddy farmers “were sure, climate patterns have changed in Hoshiarpur, Faridkot and Muktsar Sahib.”

Murkier undercurrents: Floods in India not only disrupt daily life but also account for 1/5th of global flood-related mortalities

CLIMATE CHANGE: 1/5th of all flood deaths in India; Grinding heatwave and floods, Sweden battles wildfires; First study to find human hand in changing seasons

1/5th of global flood deaths in India; After floods, Assam in drought

Government said, India accounts for one-fifth of global flood deaths. Between 1953-2017, over 1.07 lakh people died in floods. Experts are recalling recent World Bank warning on climate impacts.

Days after 30 people died in floods, Assam is facing severe heat and drought. Temperature nudged 40 C. “Drought-like situation”, in Morigaon district.

Sweden battles wildfires, deadly heatwave in cooler climates

Algeria to Arctic is caught in heatwave (despite the cooling La Nina phenomenon). Sweden sought help against raging wildfires across Arctic circle. The heat turned the UK brown. In Canada 70 people died from recent heat. Algeria’s Sahara Desert touched 51.3C, Oman saw “highest low” of 42.6C.

Experts say heat waves kill “where it’s hardest to cool off”. 2018 could be the fourth warmest year on record. Extreme weather seems to have become the new normal.

Climate Change Disrupting Seasons

A research for the first time formally established human hand in disrupting seasonal cycle of temperatures. Greenhouse gases are “altering seasonal cycle, resulting in greater contrast between hottest and coldest time of the year.”

Many more needed: A warmer planet could make air-conditioning a critical requirement in developing nations

BRICS to discuss climate change; EU-China & EU-Japan commit to joint climate action; Over a billion could need efficient cooling

BRICS: Climate change to be discussed amidst Trump’s trade wars

At the upcoming BRICS summit in Johannesburg, “US unilateralism and protectionism under Trump” is expected to be one of the top agendas, says China’s top news broadcast channel. However the members will also discuss climate change. Ahead of the summit, BRICS bank NDB approved $300 million energy projects in S Africa and $300 million for a China metro. Experts say instead of tit-for-tat tariff war, US goods should be taxed based on their carbon footprint.

EU-China and EU-Japan include climate action in their bilaterals

After EU-China joint communication on Paris agreement at the Beijing bilateral, EU and Japan took climate action a step further by including Paris agreement in their free trade agreement. Inclusion of climate targets in bilateral free trade deal is a first for the world.

Over a billion could need “efficient air conditioning”

Over a billion people are at risk from lack of air conditioners and refrigerators as global warming increases temperatures. Most at risk include India, China, Pakistan, and Bangladesh.

Climate warning as Arctic opens up to shipping

Scientists have proposed strict measures to control ship traffic in the Arctic region, which is increasingly becoming ice-free because of global warming. Ships “pollute, spill oil and endanger marine mammals.”

Back again? Industries seem to be taking advantage of tax loopholes to revert to carbon-heavy petcoke

Petcoke used via tax loophole

Supreme Court: Centre ‘sitting on’ Rs 77,000 crore fund

The Supreme Court rapped the Centre for “sitting” on funds worth Rs 77,000 crore meant for protection of the environment. If the funds were used, Delhi would not be facing air pollution, top court said. Centre collected Rs 91,000 crore as per court order, but “only Rs 14,000 crore has been spent.”

Delhi govt to get 1000 E-buses to reduce air pollution

Meanwhile, as promised in 2018-19 budget, Delhi government will get 1000 electric buses to fight air pollution. It approved hiring a consultant to run buses costing Rs 2.5 cr each.

India plants using petcoke “through tax loophole”

Cement plants and power stations are exploiting tax “loophole” and using dirty petcoke. While coal attracts a clean-energy levy that’s risen to 400 rupees/metric ton, petcoke has been exempt. Similar levy issues “have favoured petcoke over natural gas as well”.

Clean Air plan in 3 months?

Government may launch Rs-700 crore National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) within three months. “NCAP for 100 non-attainment cities will look into valid air quality monitoring network, and management programme.”

Not at the best price: A 25% import duty on mainly Chinese solar modules may drive up India’s solar tariffs

Karnataka tops India’s RE tally;

IEEFA: Karnataka beats Tamil Nadu for top RE spot

New IEEFA report says Karnataka added 4GW of solar last year to overtake Tamil Nadu in installed RE capacity. Rising coal prices have increased the uptake of renewable energy in several states.

8 Indian states now have more installed renewables than coal-fired thermal power. Karnataka leads the group with 12.3GW of installed RE (including 5GW solar & 4.7GW wind), compared to 9.8GW of coal-fired power.

Investments in renewables top fossil fuels in India, drops globally

International Energy Agency says renewables investment in India topped fossil fuels for first timein 2017: a record $20bn. Whereas there was a 7% slump in global RE investments. In India, installed solar capacity rose to 7% of the country’s total power capacity.

However, experts criticized IEAs “bad data” on Sustainable Development Scenario (SDS), saying it exhausts Paris carbon budget by 2023. With China cancelling 20 GW, global renewables investment dropped 7%.

25% import tariff awaits, will Rs. 8,000cr solar plan boost domestic firms?

Will Rs 8,000 crore solar scheme be the answer to boost domestic firms without imposing 25% import duty? Designed to be WTO compliant, the scheme will allow Centre to procure power from domestic manufactures for its own use. Meanwhile, Centre is yet to take a call on implementing 25% duty on solar imports from China, Malaysia, US & Europe.

35 developers eye India’s first offshore wind project; ReNew IPO may be deferred

Government said 35 developers expressed interest in India’s first 1000 MW offshore wind project off the Gujarat coast of Pipavav port.

Meanwhile, ReNew Power IPO could be deferred. Investors showed lukewarm interest because of its high value and size. Experts said, “even the unicorn in the sector is not getting a good response.”

SB Energy (Japan’s SoftBank, Taiwan’s Foxconn and Bharti Airtel), top domestic firm ACME, and ReNew were the three largest winners at the 3000 MW SECI auction. The auction saw solar tariffs fall to a record low (Rs 2.44 per unit, ACME bid) for the third time. Other bids were higher (Rs 2.64-2.71 per unit).

Stepping it up: The searing pace of EV purchases in China is great news for proponents of e-mobility

54% jump in global EV sales

Million-plus EVs sold in 2017

IEA report says 2017 saw 54% jump in EV sales, to surpass one million for the first time, half of them were bought in China. Around 25% of the $43bn spent on EVs in 2017 came from governments.

GST slashed, boost for EVs

EVs and smartphones are likely to get a major boost as India slashed GST on lithium ion batteries from 28% to 18%. GST council, headed by the interim finance minister, agreed to revise rates on several other consumer products as well. The revised rates to be applicable from July 27.

Mahindra not buying EV hype

Mahindra owner warned against the EV “hype”. “Commuting will shift to ride-sharing on fleets of economical electric cars”, but for personal use, very few people will buy EVs, he said.

Strong interest in ISRO’s li-ion cell technology; UK’s $526 million EV fund

Indian space agency ISRO said over 130 companies have shown interest to buy its lithium ion cell technology. Meanwhile, the U.K. is looking for a manager for its new $526 million fund to back EV charging infrastructure, and seeking supply of battery-grade lithium.

Ireland’s doing it: Ireland’s ditching of fossil fuels should help limit global warming to some extent

Ireland to fully divest from fossil fuels;

Ireland becomes first country to announce divestment from fossil fuels

Ireland has become the world’s first country to announce its divestment of all public money from fossil fuels. Previously criticized for climate inaction, it will divest its €8.9bn worth of holdings in coal, oil, natural gas and peat within 5 years or sooner to help limit global warming.

The divestment strategy will also allow investors to fund Irish firms to move away from extraction and use of fossil fuels.

Nippon joins Dai-Ichi in exit from coal-fired power

Nippon Life Insurance Co. will stop all investments in new coal-fired thermal power projects – both within Japan and abroad. The move is significant as Japanese financial institutions have been major funders for new thermal capacity across the world.

One such financier – Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank – has also agreed “as a basic rule” to halt its financing for thermal power. Nippon is Japan’s largest insurance firm and joins Dai-Ichi in pulling the plug on funding thermal power projects.

Baltimore sues Big Oil despite New York’s suit being thrown out

Baltimore (Maryland) has filed a lawsuit against 26 oil & gas majors for knowingly contributing to climate change. The city has been battered by two, 1000-year storms since 2016 and its coastline is highly vulnerable to a rise in sea levels.

The lawsuit may meet stiff resistance in court after New York city’s suit on Big Oil on similar charges was thrown out by a district judge. The judge ruled that addressing the issue required policy changes at a federal level. Similar suits by San Francisco and Oakland have also been dismissed.