Low-carbon development in Dharwad district

In 2015, for the first time, a couple of Climate Parliament MPs committed to support the implementation of low carbon development plans in their constituencies, targeting key goals such as energy, water, agriculture, cooking, etc., which together can steer development onto a low carbon pathway in rural India. In Karnataka, Mr. Arvind Bellad, MLA, Hubli Dharwad West and Mr. Pralhad Joshi, the MP from Dharwad helmed this initiative. Both these network members supported a detailed and comprehensive study for a few chosen villages in Dharwad on developing a Low Carbon Development Roadmap focusing on the energy challenges. Based on the Roadmap, two programs are getting implemented by partners. Mr. Bellad gives us an insight into the project, the current status and the challenges faced.

 

mr.bellad
Mr. Bellad, can you briefly introduce us to the project?
In 2015, Mr. Pralhad Joshi and I supported a comprehensive study in few chosen villages in Dharwad done by SELCO Foundation, in association with Climate Parliament. This study’s main objective was to assess how and what different clean energy technologies can be introduced in these villages to bring about local area development in the constituency. The report was presented to us with recommendations highlighting the prioritized technologies which should be introduced in the villages. Since then, we have sought out and finalized different technology partners who will look into the implementation of the chosen technologies.Our main aim with this project was to assess the key role Legislators can play in promoting low carbon development on ground.
Can you tell us more about low carbon development in rural areas and how it is a mechanism to mitigate climate change?
Low carbon development is all about merging developmental objectives with those of climate change mitigation; a large economy like India – being third largest carbon emitter in the world, the focus now is not only to ensure development but, to support development in a sustainable, low carbon manner. Low carbon agriculture practices, forest conservation, afforestation, renewable energy, energy efficiency etc. are practices which can be worked into the developmental plans of cities, but more importantly, in villages. Our basic developmental needs at the ground level in villages need immediate attention. The idea to amalgamate low carbon technologies into the developmental plan for villages, while exploring various National and State Government schemes for low carbon technologies and utilize them to ensure multiple benefits in rural areas such as basic facilities and amenities – the most important one being reliable and affordable power supply.
What is the current status of the project?

 

Based on the recommendations of the study, smooth implementable options and the financial support we have received, we have finalized two technologies for implementation in the first phase. Household biogas units to replace traditional cooking fuels like firewood, cow dung; this will not only result in lower carbon emissions but will also, improve the health of women involved in cooking. Secondly, with the proposal to implement solar powered digital education systems in schools – the focus on education sector as rural government schools currently lack multimedia content due to lack of adequate technology and power cuts.
Subsequently, in October last year, over a meeting with Climate Parliament and a couple of implementing partners Mr. Joshi proposed we look into a more centralized solar project in two villages of his constituency – Haro belavadi and Kabbinur. Dharwad district as a whole has scope for decentralized solar energy technologies with energy efficiency. The area receives on average 300 sunny days a year with an average solar insolation of 5 kWh/m2/day. SELCO Foundation conducted a feasibility study and the report prepared by them had been shared with a few CSR organizations, we have heard back from ONGC that they are interested to fund the development of solar village for
Haro Belavadi. SELCO Foundation is currently in the process of preparing a detailed feasibility report and is looking for a technology partner to collaborate with for the implementation.
What immediate benefits can you see for the villages?

 

A major proportion of the population still uses fuel wood, crop residue, dung or kerosene for cooking. Considering the proximity of these villages to Hubli Dharwad, we were dismayed to see that the woman still suffered from the effects of indoor air pollution while they had other amenities such as televisions, refrigerators etc. Providing these households with clean cooking fuel is our priority intervention and we are sure to see an improvement in the health and quality of life in the next couple of years. Similarly, most of the villages in Dharwad face the problem of frequent and long power cuts daily, the study showed that on average, single phase power is available for 11.9 hours each day, of which 3 hours of this power is available between 6 pm and 10 pm. It is pertinent that we provide reliable electricity to our villages. As centralized grid extension has not been able to fully address the issue of rural electrification, appropriate renewable energy-based interventions can be implemented – this is where our interest to pursue the development of Haro Belavadi into a solar village stemmed from.
How are you planning to fund these initiatives?

 

Our studies have revealed the total figure of biogas units for a 110 households and solar powered digital educations units to be Rs.30,20,000 – though we do have a provision of government subsidy of Rs. 10,00000 for the biogas units. I have been engaging with the Karnataka Grameen Vikas Bank to partially finance the installed of the solar digital education systems under their CSR projects. Similarly, Mr. Joshi’s office has reached out to many CSR organizations and connected with Mangalore Petroleum Refinery Limited (MRP) to come onboard as partial financial partners for the implementation of the household biogas units. We started out this project with the idea to explore the potential to merge schemes like MPLAD, MLALAD and Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana to finance the implementation of the low carbon technologies; we have already submitted our SAGY documents to the government and have accounted for partial financing of the biogas units under the scheme.
SELCO Foundation’s study gave us the estimated total of Rs. 7.2 crores for the development of the two solar villages. Currently, we have ONGC which has agreed to finance the development of Haro Belavadi into a solar village (Rs 3.92 crores). So far, we have been fortunate to connect with the right CSR partners who were keen to collaborate on such projects, but as we intend to showcase low carbon development by Parliamentarians as a replicable model there is a need for us to also integrate these low carbon technologies into our district/area development plans and draw funds from there as well.
What are the key challenges have faced and those you foresee for this project?
In terms of bringing about a low carbon development on the ground, there have been several issues hindering the implementation; one major challenge has been that of obtaining the required finance. It took us a while to identify the right financial sources, the suitable entrepreneurs who run successful viable business models. There is a need to create viable business models for commissioning of such projects. The challenges we foresee in the continuation of this project is the delay in receipt of government incentives and the intricate administrative procedures which could stall progress. Thus, we are already looking into suitable measures to address these – during a district level meeting for Mr. Joshi in January our implementation partner SKG Sangha was present and spoke with the District commissioner, officials from HESCOM – the request for faster deployment of the biogas unit subsidy during the upcoming implementation phase was received positively.
What is the significance of this project – for your district and state? How would you propose to scale up such projects?
With a wide reach in our constituencies and as elected representative, we Legislators are in a unique position to help plug certain gaps – like that of financing and implementation of such projects. With this initiative I see the potential for many more interventions in Dharwad itself. Integrating low carbon strategies into district level planning is a practice we hope to promote by showcasing this study to our district officials. This project has set the ball rolling for us, there are many more such recommendations of the report pertaining to energy efficiency appliances, sustainable agriculture, water management etc, which we will look into. These initiatives also open up a large market for decentralized renewable energy technologies in the state – promoting growth at the local level.
With the learning over the past year under our belt we hope to showcase such initiatives to our fellow colleagues at the Parliament and the Legislative Assembly as well. The Paris targets India has submitted calls for a paradigm shift in the mode of development in the country, I strongly believe we as Legislators can contribute in achieving this by taking up such initiatives to combat climate change. The idea is to replicate these initiatives with alignment to the Government schemes to show massive scaling up of low carbon technologies deployment in the country.

 

Source: Climate Parliament

A Liter of Light, lighting up lives!

Ever thought of what you would normally do to a plastic bottle after drinking out of it? Ever thought of what happens to a bottle, once you throw it away? Or how you could use the bottle in any other way, than disposing it? Well here is one solution that has caught the world’s attention. This revolutionizing, new solar lighting movement is called, ‘Liter of Light’.

A Brazilian mechanic and inventor, Alfredo Moser, invented a unique and simple alternative to illumination, when a power outage affected his workshop. With little materials around him, he used everyday items to build a daylight solution. Inspired by the simplicity of this invention, Illac Diaz, founder of MyShelter Foundation, decided to spread the invention in his energy hungry, cyclonic affected parts of his native country, the Philippines. The ‘Liter of Light’ movement started since then; Opening 53 chapters across nations like India, Philippines, United States, Pakistan, among other, since 2011.

So what is so unique about this solar based solution? How is it different from other solar based solutions out there? Why is it attracting so much attention worldwide? The answer lies in the innovation itself. This unique solution uses minimum resources – a plastic bottle, a little amount of bleach, a small aluminium sheet, resin and basic tools.  This bottle is now ready to be fitted on an aluminium rooftop. On a sunny day, sunlight refracts through the bleached water, illuminating the room below.  It is estimated to have an effect, equivalent to a 50 Watt bulb[1]. All this, at a cost of less than $2[2]! Since the success of Liter of Light’s daylight solution, the foundation has started work on a night light solution as well. The night solution is modular and integrates with the daylight solution using a few LED bulbs and a compact solar panel. Though the cost of the night light solution is presently around $15-20[3], Liter of Light is committed to innovate further, to reduce cost below $10, noting that the minimum cost for a one light bulb system is $10, which is yet marginally high for most regions that fall under extreme poverty.

According to a World Bank[4] report on energy, 1.1 billion people are yet without access to electricity. Globally, an estimated 250 to 500 million households still rely on fuel-based lamps to supply their basic lighting needs. Kerosene being the most predominant fuel. Users of kerosene lamps pay 20-30%[5] of their annual family’s income for the fuel. However a bigger price is paid for their well-being, in the form of injuries from burns, insufficient illumination for education of children, and the significant health impacts from indoor household air pollution (UNEP). An estimated 4.3 million deaths every year from lung cancer, strokes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, acute lower respiratory disease, and ischaemic heart disease are attributable to HAP emissions[6]. More than three quarters of those deaths (3.31 million) occur in South East Asia and the Western Pacific[7]. Kerosene is also a major emitter of Black Carbon[8], a major contributor to climate change along with the CO2 released from burning of Kerosene[9] . Solar based solutions like the Liter of Light daylight and night lights are helping people to switch to a safer source of light and an inexpensive solution.

Among the regions Liter of Light has penetrated, the most impressive utility of the product are in war-affected, human displaced and catastrophic climatic zones. For instance, the northern belt of Pakistan, Philippines and the east coast of India. Around 35 kilometres southeast of Peshawar, lies one of Pakistan’s largest refugee camps – Jalozai IDP refugee camp. Its home to an estimated 36,000 refugees. Access to basic amenities like electricity, roads and water are very scarce. Maternity wards have very little or no light to run emergency operations. The camp has no lighting along the streets and public washrooms. Vaqas Butt, Founder of ‘Liter of Light – Pakistan’ in collaboration with Pepsi Co Pakistan initiated “Lighting up Lives”. This programme has lit up public restrooms, streets and hospital labor wards. Refugees from the camp express their feeling of having light at night as ‘a blessing’ to their hardship they face.

FotorCreated

Similarly, in the far south East Asia region of the Philippines, a country constantly ravaged by cyclonic storms, Liter of Light installed up to 200,000 daylight and nightlight solutions (pepsico). ‘Liter of Light Bangalore’, recently helped light three hamlets, near coast of Vizag. This included installation of streetlights and hut rooftop night light solutions in areas where electricity had never been reached. A huge impact has been in the employment of rural men and women, to earn a living by maintaining the solution.

Many critics to the Liter of Light movement raise one very important question. How is the use of waste bottles sustainable? What happens to the bottles after its lifespan is over? Use of the bottles for lighting helps in reducing the otherwise disposed bottles which usually land up in landfills and take years to decompose. The estimated lifespan of a Liter of Light bottle and the bleach mixture has been recorded to be around an average of 3 years, though, different regions and different conditions could extend or shorten the time. Liter of Light is considering a plan of action with regard to the disposal of the bottles post its usage stage.

FotorCreated1

Energy for all is going to be the single most important priority for all developed and developing economies in the coming decades. As their economies grow, so does their need for energy. Sustainable energy solutions like renewable energy will be a crucial factor, as economies are looking to curb their impact on the environment as they grow. Sustainable low cost energy solutions like the Liter of Light initiative will play a crucial role in providing energy requirements to regions that would yet need distributed power.

 

 

Joseph Varun

 

[1] “Liter of Light’s solar-powered, DIY lamp made from a plastic …” 2015. 11 Jun. 2015 <http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/features/liter-of-lights-solarpowered-diy-lamp-made-from-a-plastic-bottle-is-transforming-lives-9993728.html>

[2] “Liter of Light | Global Brands Magazine.” 2014. 11 Jun. 2015 <http://www.globalbrandsmagazine.com/liter-of-light/>

[3] “Bottling Solar Energy for All by Illac Diaz — The G Project.” 2013. 11 Jun. 2015 <http://www.thisisyourplanet.com/ideas/community/412>

[4] “Energy Overview – World Bank.” 2013. 11 Jun. 2015 <http://www.worldbank.org/en/topic/energy/overview>

[5] “Solar Power Off the Grid: Energy Access for World’s Poor by …” 2012. 10 Jun. 2015 <http://e360.yale.edu/feature/solar_power_off_the_grid_energy_access_for_worlds_poor/2480/>

[6] “WHO | Household air pollution and health.” 2005. 10 Jun. 2015 <http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs292/en/>

[7] “Kerosene Lamps are an Important Target for Reducing …” 2014. 10 Jun. 2015 <http://www.unep.org/ccac/Media/PressReleases/KeroseneLampsImportantTargetforReducingPollu/tabid/794525/Default.aspx>

[8]Black carbon (BC) is the most strongly light-absorbing component of particulate matter (PM), and is formed by the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels, biofuels, and biomass. BC is emitted directly into the atmosphere in the form of fine particles (PM2.5). BC is the most effective form of PM, by mass, at absorbing solar energy: per unit of mass in the atmosphere, BC can absorb a million times more energy than carbon dioxide (CO2). BC is a major component of “soot”, a complex light-absorbing mixture that also contains some organic carbon (OC).

[9] “The kerosene lamp and black carbon – warming the planet …” 2013. 10 Jun. 2015 <http://solar-aid.org/black-carbon-and-the-kerosene-lamp/>

Adaptation, mitigation activities can control climate change – I.P.C.C. report

Climate change irreversible impacts to increase, however, there are options to adapt to climate change and stringent mitigation activities to manage it, finds new Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report.

The Synthesis Report, which sums and integrates the findings of the I.P.C.C. Fifth Assessment Report produced by 800 scientists (see related story), is the most comprehensive assessment of climate change.

“Our assessment finds that the atmosphere and oceans have warmed, the amount of snow and ice has diminished, sea level has risen and the concentration of carbon dioxide has increased to a level unprecedented in at least the last 800,000 years,” said Thomas Stocker, co-chair of I.P.C.C. Working Group I.

The document reports with great certainty than in previous assessment the fact that emissions of greenhouse gases and other man-made drivers have been the dominant cause of observed warming since the mid-20th century.

According to the report, the more human activity disrupts the climate, the greater the risks. Continued GHG emissions will further warm and create long-lasting changes in all components of the climate system, increasing the likelihood of widespread and profound impacts affecting all levels of society.

“Adaptation can play a key role in decreasing these risks. Adaptation is so important because it can be integrated with the pursuit of development, and can help prepare for the risks to which we are already committed by past emissions and existing infrastructure,” said Vicente Barros, co-chair of I.P.C.C. Working Group II.

But adaptation alone is not enough. Substantial and sustained reductions of GHG emissions are at the core of limiting the risks of climate change, as it will not only reduce the rate and magnitude of warming, but also increase the time available for adaptation.

According to experts, there are multiple mitigation pathways to achieve the substantial emissions reductions over the next few decades that will limit the warming to 2 degrees Celsius. But delaying mitigation to 2030 will severely increase the challenges associated with limiting the warming.

“It is technically feasible to transition to a low-carbon economy. But what is lacking are appropriate policies and institutions. The longer we wait to take action, the more it will cost to adapt and mitigate climate change,” said Youba Sokona, co-chair of I.P.C.C. Working Group III. – EcoSeed Staff

Source: Ecoseed

ISO Greenhouse gas standards get revamp in response to climate change needs

With a rapidly changing climate, the market needs for climate change projects has never been more dynamic. Which is why ISO is revising its greenhouse gas standards, adding greater value to existing standards and making them fit for the future.

First published in 2006, ISO’s range of standards for greenhouse gases are an essential set of tools for programmes aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions, as well as for emissions trading. Now ISO’s Technical Committee for greenhouse gas management, TC207/SC7, is reviewing several standards to ensure they meet the ever-changing market needs of the future.

ISO 14064-1   Greenhouse gases — Part 1: Specification with guidance at the organization level for quantification and reporting of greenhouse gas emissions and removals  will address some key GHG quantification issues and will include a more standardized reporting frame.

ISO 14064-2 Greenhouse gases — Part 2: Specification with guidance at the project level for quantifcation, monitoring and reporting of greenhouse gas emission reductions or removal enhancementswill be expanded to be applicable to carbon credit and innovative technology projects, and projects internal to organizations.

ISO 14064-3 Greenhouse gases — Part 3: Specification with guidance for the validation and verification of greenhouse gas assertions and 14065 Greenhouse gases: Requirements for greenhouse gas validation and verification bodies for use in accreditation or other forms of recognition are standards used by greenhouse gas programmes around the world and will be revised to ensure they are as up to date as possible and to serve new market needs such as product carbon footprint verifications.

ISO TC 207/SC7 regularly receives requests for new climate change standards. Hear more about the committee from its chair Tom Baumann in the video below.

The Desert Southwest USA Is Burping Methane Like Nobody’s Business

Over the next decade or so, our collective climatic future will be won or lost based on how aggressively the world decides to limit greenhouse gas emissions.

Increasingly, the greenhouse gas that could provide humanity’s biggest bang for its climate change tackling buck isn’t carbon dioxide—it’s methane. For the first time, a team of scientists have observed the effects of natural gas extraction—which is 95-98 percent methane—from space.

Using satellite data, a study published Thursday finds a surprising methane hotspot: New Mexico’s San Juan Basin, an area that some believe is primed for its own oil and gas boom just like the one a few years ago in the Bakken formation of western North Dakota.

“It’s the largest signal we saw in the continental United States,” said lead author Eric Kort, a professor at the University of Michigan. I reached Kort by phone Thursday.

Methane has a shorter residence time in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide, but once it’s up there, it’s a doozy. Pound for pound, methane is 20 times more effectiveat trapping the sun’s heat as carbon dioxide.

Since 2007, global methane emissions have steadily increased, but scientists aren’t sure exactly why. They’ve narrowed down the possible main sources to burps from a warming Arctic, an uptick in emissions from tropical wetlands, and human agriculture and fossil fuel extraction. The recent rise overlaps with the American boom in fracking in places like North Dakota, but also to an increase in Arctic temperatures.

Along with co-authors from NASA and the Department of Energy, Kort analyzed seven years of methane concentrations from the space-based high-resolution (and impressively named) SCanning Imaging Absorption SpectroMeter for Atmospheric CHartographY (SCIAMACHY), which is accurate enough to track anomalies back to their source regions.

satellite-methane-signal-averages
This weird methane blip has been linked to fossil fuel extraction in New Mexico.

Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Michigan

The San Juan Basin blip that Kort’s team found showed up during the entire seven-year dataset, and in all seasons—evidence that its source was likely unnatural. Intrigued by this finding, the authors decided to explore further.

In 2012, using ground-based measurements, they were able to track the anomaly back to an unconventional technique called coalbed methane extraction that’s been practiced for decades in the region.

However, in order to justify the anomalous atmospheric concentrations they were detecting, Kort’s team calculated the amount of methane emanating from these sites must be enormous: 590,000 tons per year, or about 10 percent of the EPA’s estimate of total U.S. emissions from natural gas production, and about three-and-a-half times higher than previous estimates in this region.

For perspective, Kort’s analysis shows the San Juan Basin may already be producing methane emissions roughly equivalent to the entire oil, gas, and coal industry in the United Kingdom. Said Kort, “it is a pretty impressive number from such a small spatial region.”

Earlier this year, the Obama administration announced an offensive on methane that relies primarily on voluntary compliance by the agriculture and energy industries. However, in September, the Department of Energy paved the way for increased natural gas exports at port facilities on the Gulf Coast, an example of the administration’s on-again-off-again commitment to making hard choices in favor of climate stability.

aggi.fig2
Global methane concentrations are on the rise again in recent years, thanks—perhaps—to America’s fossil fuel renaissance.

Image: NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory

Kort’s not done examining the San Juan Basin. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is supporting his research team to conduct an aerial survey of the region in an attempt to further track down individual point sources of methane.

 

Source: http://www.slate.com/

Now, sell solar power to discoms to reduce electricity bill

NEW DELHI: Delhi took a huge leap in renewable energy generation on Tuesday. Power watchdog Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission (DERC) announced regulations for net metering of renewable energy, giving Delhiites a chance to become renewable energy suppliers. The regulations outline how people can generate renewable energy in their premises, and then reduce their electricity bills by the amount of power they supply to the grid. The regulations are expected to be enforced within a week.

While the net metering regulations apply to all forms of renewable energy like solar, hydro and wind, in Delhi only solar generation is feasible. Many households and organizations already generate solar power for their own consumption, but the new regulations will allow them to supply to the grid and receive energy credits or adjust the units supplied against their electricity bills.

DERC chairperson P D Sudhakar said, “With this, consumers can set up their own solar panels and either supply directly to the grid or use it partially. Whatever you supply to the grid, you can draw back whenever you need it”. How much power a person supplies and draws back from the grid will be metered. If they draw more than they supply, the difference will be billed to them. If they draw less, they will be given energy credits in the next billing cycle.

3725860708_50e3dd08c7_z

To become a renewable energy generator, a person will have to apply to their area’s discom for a connection to the renewable energy system. The discom will then allow the connection after analyzing transformer-level capacity. “The capacity of renewable energy system to be installed at any premises shall be subject to the feasibility of interconnection with the grid, the available capacity of the service line connection of the consumers of the premises, and the sanctioned load of the consumer. Minimum capacity for the renewable energy system should not be less than 1kW peak,” said an official on Tuesday.

Two meters will be installed in the consumer’s premises — a renewable energy meter to measure total renewable energy generated, and a net meter to measure the difference between the power drawn and contributed to the grid. Check meters can be installed by either party at their own cost. “Charges for the testing and installation of net meters will be borne by the consumer, and those for the renewable energy meter by the distribution licensee,” the regulations state.

Many large-scale power consumers like malls, hospitals, schools and government buildings already generate solar power. “The MoEF building in Jor Bagh generates up to 1MW power which it is unable to use. Now it can supply its excess power to the grid and get adjustments in its power bills. We also hope households will opt for renewable energy generation,” said a DERC official. For discoms, the advantage is that any renewable energy they source in this way will count towards their renewable power obligations that they have not been able to meet.

 

Source: TOI, New Delhi

Forests for the future: Kenya’s carbon credit scheme

When 61-year old Mercy Joshua was young, the vast forests of southeastern Kenya teemed with wildlife, but decades of unchecked deforestation by locals have devastated the land.

She watched forests dwindle and rivers dry up across her homeland of Kasigau — a semi-arid savanna grassland dotted with shrubs, woodland and small rugged hills — as people cut down the trees to scratch a living by selling them for firewood.

But now, after decades of degradation, a local project has found a way to preserve the forests and support the community by getting international companies to pay to plant trees.

2DU_Kenya_81_(5367321226)

“We were losing everything, but thanks to the project we have learnt even how to live with the wild animals,” Joshua, a mother of four, told AFP.

“These days, we don’t cut down trees… they are our friends,” she added.

The project has breathed new life into Kasigau, a 500,000 acre (200,000 hectare) dryland forest 330 kilometres (205 miles) southeast of the capital Nairobi that connects the two halves of Kenya’s renowned Tsavo national park.

Founded in 2009, it is part of a UN-backed carbon credit scheme aimed at stopping 54 million tonnes of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere over the next 30 years, equivalent to 1.2 million tonnes a year.

Leading buyers of the credits include Microsoft, Barclays Bank and Kenya Airways, which have invested $3.5 million (2.5 million euros) each since the project started.

These companies buy carbon credits by paying to conserve existing trees and plant new ones. The forests soak in carbon from the atmosphere, helping to reduce carbon dioxide levels in the air and so offset what the companies release themselves.

– ‘No jobs, no water’ –

The Kasigau scheme has also created a new source of income for impoverished local communities where most people scrape a living by hunting animals for meat or illegal charcoal production.

“There are no jobs here, no water, and I have a family to feed,” said Matthew Mutie, a 40-year-old father of three who supports his family by making charcoal for around $3 a sack.

“Most of the people in this area are subsistence farmers and in most cases their crops fail due to poor rainfall,” added Rob Dodson from Wildlife Works, which oversees the Kasigau project.

The scheme directly employs 400 people but also supports nearly 100,000 rural Kenyans in other projects, including sustainable charcoal production, tree nurseries, and eco-friendly craft products.

In a deeply poor region where many people live on $1 per day, the project has made a major impact, bringing in an average of $270 per person a year — about a quarter of Kenya’s GDP per capita.

“The project is a perfect example of how African countries can help in the fight against climate change, while at the same time benefitting the local communities,” said Josep Gari, from the United Nations Development Programme.

Kenyan officials said the Kasigau project was helping to transform people’s lives.

“Once an area is under a carbon credit scheme, the area becomes protected,” said Elijah Mwandoe, a senior local government environment official.

“We tell communities if you have a tree standing, it is making our air clean, and if we have clean air then we will all benefit and we will get rainfall.”

– ‘Help society adapt’ –

Deforestation accounts for roughly 15 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions every year, pumping more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than the global transportation sector, according to Wildlife Works.

Global warming is already hitting southern Kenya. Tim Christophersen, from the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) said that climate change is “having an effect here on the local community… droughts are more frequent”.

In response, UNEP is “also looking at large-scale restoration of forest in Kenya to help society here adapt,” he said.

However, carbon credit schemes are not a panacea for global warming.

Some have been criticised for achieving little and being poorly policed, while a slowdown in global industrial production during the financial crisis has seen prices plummet.

But Gari insists that this project is generating wealth for the community, and so provides a more long-term bulwark against climate change.

The Kasigau team have succeeded in “accessing carbon markets in times of uncertainty and deflation for climate finance,” he said.

It has also helped to improve the local forest habitat, which is home to some 500 elephants, as well as lions, cheetahs, zebras and more than 300 species of birds.

“The greatest success is that generally people now see the value to the environment,” said Dodson of Wildlife Works.

“When we first came here we were shocked to see how rich the biodiversity of this area was and how poor the people were.”

Source: By Reuben Kyama | AFP – Sunday, Aug 10, 2014

German MPs adopt cuts for green energy subsidies

Berlin (AFP) – German lawmakers adopted a law on Friday to reduce renewable energy subsidies as the government seeks to keep its green “energy transformation” on track, curb rising prices and fight nagging criticism.

The reform of the “Energiewende” is one of the first big projects of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s third term, together with a national minimum wage, and has been a political hot potato both in Germany and with the European Commission.

The reform of the “Energiewende” is one of the first big projects of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s third term © AFP/File Frank Zeller

The reform of the “Energiewende” is one of the first big projects of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s third term
© AFP/File Frank Zeller

The law, overwhelmingly approved in the Bundestag lower house of parliament, aims to provide new impetus to the energy shift under which Europe’s top economy plans to meet 80 percent of its energy needs with renewables by 2050.

“We’re reducing the costs and that is also urgently needed,” Energy Minister Sigmar Gabriel told MPs.

Merkel acknowledged this week that Germany was facing a “herculean” task, while Gabriel, who is also her vice-chancellor, said the energy transformation was increasingly being viewed with scepticism by the rest of the world.

Germany introduced a generous system of subsidies for green energies in the late 1990s, a move which has borne fruit — 27 percent of the electricity used in the first quarter of this year came from renewable sources — but is costly.

The subsidies are funded by a tax levied on customers’ electricity bills, which has driven up energy prices in Germany to count among Europe’s highest.

Under the new law, the subsidies will be substantially reduced from August 1, while producers of green energy will also gradually have to sell competitively on the market rather than enjoying priority treatment with guaranteed prices.

Merkel took the surprise decision in 2011 to gradually scrap nuclear power for renewables in the wake of the Fukushima disaster but has faced pressure over how to pay for the clean energy drive.

To offset the phasing out of nuclear energy and the time needed to build up renewable sources, Germany has also increased consumption of cheaper fossil fuels such as coal which has hit its image for environmental protection.

“A first step in the right direction,” cheered the BDEW federation, which represents conventional energy producers, while the reform is criticised by the ecologist Greens party, clean energy associations and environmentalists.

“Sigmar Gabriel is the wrecking ball which is damaging renewable energy here in this country,” Greens lawmaker Oliver Krischer said.

Berlin is also likely to face opposition from the EU Commission, which argues that a tax levied by Germany on imported electricity, including green forms, is, effectively, a barrier to free trade.

© AFP

Source: Magazine GoodPlanet Info