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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/>

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/

Better Beleaf it! Man made leaf

The Royal College of Art graduate, Julian Melchiorri says the synthetic biological leaf he created, absorbs water and carbon dioxide to produce oxygen exactly like a plant.  His project entitled “Silk Leaf” had been exhibited as a final year project at his university and was featured in Dezeen and Mini Frontiers. The applications of this Julian believes could include be used as a medium in interior designing and architecture to it’s use in space. Check the video out for more information.

 

 

Minimum CO2 price of $32 needed to curb warming, study shows

Paris (AFP) – A global carbon price of at least $32 (24 euros) per tonne is needed by 2015 to apply an effective brake on global warming — almost five times today’s European market rate, a study said Monday.

Co-authored by British economist Nicholas Stern, an authority on the costs of climate change, the report reviewed a widely-used model for assessing risk and found it led to a “gross underassessment” of danger.

Emissions spew out of a large stack at the coal fired Morgantown Generating Station, on May 29, 2014 in Newburg, Maryland © Getty/AFP Mark Wilson

Emissions spew out of a large stack at the coal fired Morgantown Generating Station, on May 29, 2014 in Newburg, Maryland
© Getty/AFP Mark Wilson

This beefs up the case for strong cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, helped by a carbon price “in the range of $32-103 per tonne of CO2 (tCO2) in 2015″, said the study carried by The Economic Journal.

“Within two decades, the carbon price should rise in real terms to $82-260/tCO2,” it added.

Such a price should limit the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere to 425-500 particles per million, the level required to contain global warming to 1.5-2.0 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit), said the report.

The study was co-authored by Stern’s colleague, Simon Dietz, at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment.

It was released a day after the close of UN talks in Bonn on concluding a deal to curb greenhouse gas emissions. The pact is expected to be signed in Paris in December 2015.

In April, the UN’s expert Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said the world can still limit global warming to relatively safe levels, provided annual emissions are cut by 40-70 percent by 2050.

The panel listed a global carbon price as one option for tackling the challenge. It warned temperatures could rise by up to 4.8 Celsius this century and sea levels by 26-82 centimetres (10-32 inches) on present emissions trends.

The International Monetary Fund and World Bank have also this year called for the introduction of a universal price on carbon — the most common greenhouse gas blamed for climate change.

For the moment, carbon prices are determined by national or regional systems — either as a tax on emissions or as a cap-and-trade scheme that allows companies to sell unused allotments.

The European Union Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), the most ambitious cap-and-trade system in the world, has seen prices drop drastically from a peak of about 30 euros per tonne eight years ago to $7.7 (5.7 euros) today — partly due to countries issuing too many allowances.

The Stern-Dietz report said the standard DICE model used to calculate economic risks from climate change, also by studies included in the IPCC’s latest report, used unrealistic values and underestimated the potential damage.

The updated model, “strengthens the case for strong cuts in emissions of greenhouse gases,” Dietz said in a statement.

© AFP

Source: Magazine GoodPlanet Info

RAISE your VOICE, not the sea level #WED2014

Authored by Nalaka Gunawardene on 3rd June 2014, SciDevNet

Going carbon neutral and protecting marine environment are key to fighting climate change in the tiny island nation, says Nalaka Gunawardene.

‘Raise your voice, not the sea level’ is the theme for this year’s World Environment Day, which falls on 5 June. The theme resonates with the United Nations designating 2014 as the International Year of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) [1], to express solidarity with the world’s 51 small island states, many of which are on the frontline of climate change impacts. [2]

The only one in South Asia, the Maldives, has long been vocal on the high vulnerability of such states.

The Maldives is the smallest Asian country in both population and land area: it packs around 350,000 people into just under 300 square km. Located in the Indian Ocean, south-west of India and Sri Lanka, it is an archipelago of 1,192 islands, of which only 200 are inhabited. With an average ground level of 1.5 metres above sea level, it is also the lowest country on the planet. [3]

An expected rise of two degrees Celsius in the world’s average temperatures during this century could seriously affect island states like the Maldives, which are least able to cope with extreme weather events and rising sea levels.
Sea level rise

A 2013 World Bank report envisages sea levels rising in South Asia by 60 to 80 cm if temperatures rise by two degrees Celsius by 2100, relative to 1986-2005. In a scenario of four degrees Celsius rise in global average temperatures by 2100, the sea-level rise could touch 100-115 cm by the 2090s. [4]

As the planet warms, melting glaciers and polar ice caps increase the volume of seawater. Warmer waters also expand, taking more space. According to the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the global sea level has already risen by about 10 to 25 cm during the last 100 years.

“It is imperative to protect the coral reefs, sea grass, coastal vegetation and wetlands to mitigate the adverse impacts of climate change.” 
Ali Rilwan, Bluepeace

Sea level rise is a gradual process, not a single event like a tsunami. Land first gets flooded temporarily during high tide or stormy weather. Salt intrusion can render soil and groundwater unusable well before permanent inundation happens.

The Maldivians saw early evidence of this in April 1987, when the highest tidal waves in memory flooded a third of the capital Malé, washing away reclaimed land and causing widespread damage. Later that year, the then Maldives President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom raised the issue at the UN General Assembly, and appealed for help to nations like his.

In 1989, he convened the first global small island states conference on sea level rise: the beginning of joint advocacy that was later picked up by the Alliance of Small Island States, AOSIS, formed in 1990. [5]

At the time, Gayoom told me in an interview, ”A mere rise of one foot in sea level would mean a great deal to us. Storm action and wave action can lead to erosion of the land, salt intrusion and loss of agricultural land, and flooding.”

His successor, Mohamed Nasheed, who took over in late 2008, called the plight of his people a human rights issue and a clear threat to national security. In a clever communications move, he once held a cabinet meeting underwater to illustrate what could unfold in a few decades.

Carbon neutral plan

At the policy level, Nasheed announced in 2009 that the Maldives would become carbon neutral in a decade. The ambitious plan involved phasing out fossil fuel use with renewable energies (solar, wind and biomass), improving energy efficiency, and an integrated solid waste management system. [6]

“We understand that our becoming carbon-neutral will not save the world, but at least we would have the comfort of knowing that we did the right thing,” Nasheed said later that year.

Nasheed told me in an interview in 2009: “Traditionally, we’ve always thought that adaptation represents physical structures — revetments, embankments, breakwaters, etc. But the most important adaptation issue is good governance and, therefore, consolidating democracy is very important for adaptation.” [7]

Political storm

But after Nasheed resigned in February 2012, the Maldives has experienced considerable political unrest. Preoccupied with uncertainties of the present, Maldivians have not had much time to reflect on their long-term survival.

Ali Rilwan, executive director of Bluepeace, the country’s oldest environmental organisation, says his group is unclear where plans for carbon neutrality stand today. “Even (the current) President Abdulla Yameen’s government has not mentioned a word about Maldives (going) carbon neutral by 2020.”

Meanwhile, in May 2014, Maldives minister of environment and energy, Thoriq Ibrahim, pledged to ‘minimise the country’s dependence on fossil fuels’ and called for increased investment in clean energy. [8]
Adaptation strategies

An innovative and rigorous adaptation strategy that includes healthier, climate-resilient ecosystems is the best way forward for Maldivians.

Bluepeace advocates ecosystem-based adaptation for the short and medium term. That entails conserving terrestrial, freshwater and marine ecosystems as well as restoring those degraded.

Of particular concern is the health of coral reefs on which the nation’s key economic activity of tourism depends critically. Coral reefs are also the first line of defence against wave action and storm surges. The warming seas triggered large scale coral bleaching in 1998 and 2010, causing much damage.

“It is imperative to protect the coral reefs, sea grass, coastal vegetation and wetlands to mitigate the adverse impacts of climate change,” says Rilwan. [9]

Ibrahim Naeem, director of the SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) Coastal Zone Management Centre, located in Malé, agrees.  Adopting integrated coastal zone management (ICZM), a scientific methodology to balance competing demands, can help countries to reconcile competing demands and many pressures on the coast.

For the longer term, elevating entire islands is an option, albeit a very expensive one. An example is the reclaimed island of Hulhumalé that stands two metres above sea level.

Can the Maldivians adapt fast enough to outpace the rising seas? Despite their passionate climate advocacy for over a quarter century, that remains uncertain.

Nalaka Gunawardene is a Colombo-based science writer and journalist who has covered climate stories since the late 1980s. He is also a trustee of SciDev.Net. The views in this column are his own.

A version of this story was originally published on the South Asia edition.

References

[1] UNEP World Environment Day website

[2] UN DESA list of small island developing states

[3] Maldives country profile by SAARC Coastal Zone Management Centre.
[4] Turn Down the Heat: Climate Extremes, Regional Impacts, and the Case for Resilience. The World Bank, 2013.

[5] Report of the small island states conference on sea level rise, Malé, The Maldives, November 1989.

[6] Maldives first to go carbon neutral. The Guardian, 15 March 2009.

[7] Nalaka Gunawardene interview with President Mohamed Nasheed, published in Groundviews, 23 October 2009.

[8] Environment Minister pledges to minimize Maldives dependence on fossil fuels. Minivan News, 8 May 2014.

[9] Climate Change Pushes Maldives into Uncharted Waters; Ecosystem-based Adaptation is Imperative for its Survival. Bluepeace blog,1 May 2014.

Obama to unveil historic climate change plan to cut US carbon pollution

President Barack Obama will unveil a plan on Monday that will cut carbon pollution from power plants and promote cap-and-trade, undertaking the most significant action on climate change in American history.

The proposed regulations Obama will launch at the White House on Monday could cut carbon pollution by as much as 25% from about 1,600 power plants in operation today, according to those claiming familiarity with the plan.

Power plants are the country’s single biggest source of carbon pollution – responsible for up to 40% of the country’s emissions.

President Obama told West Point graduates this week that the US must lead by example on climate change. Photograph: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty

President Obama told West Point graduates this week that the US must lead by example on climate change. Photograph: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty

The rules, which were drafted by the Environmental Protection Agency and are under review by the White House, are expected to do more than Obama, or any other president, has done so far to reduce the carbon dioxide emissions responsible for climate change.

They will put America on course to meet its international climate goal, and put US diplomats in a better position to leverage climate commitments from big polluters such as China and India, Obama said in a speech to West Point graduates this week.

“I intend to make sure America is out front in a global framework to preserve our planet,” he said. “American influence is always stronger when we lead by example. We can not exempt ourselves from the rules that apply to everyone else.”

It won’t be without a fight. Obama went on in his remarks at West Point to take a shot at Republicans who deny climate change is occurring, and the White House press secretary, Jay Carney, on Thursday accused critics of making “doomsday claims” about the costs of cutting carbon.

But the White House still showed some signs of nervousness about a political backlash, releasing a report about expanded oil and gas production on Obama’s watch and adding to the furious spinning by environmental and industry groups about the potential costs and benefits of the EPA regulations.

“We actually see this … as the Super Bowl of climate politics,” said Peter Altman, director of the climate and clean air campaign for the Natural Resources Defense Council, which produced a model carbon-cutting plan that has helped guide the EPA regulations.

But if all unfolds according to plan, Obama will have succeeded in overcoming blanket opposition – and outright climate denial in many cases – from Republicans and some Democrats in Congress, an industry-funded misinformation campaign, and a slew of anticipated lawsuits.

Obama had originally hoped to cut carbon pollution by moving a bill through Congress. Four years after that effort fell apart, campaigners say the EPA rules could deliver significant emissions cuts – near the 17% Obama proposed at the Copenhagen climate summit – and the cap-and-trade programmes that were so reviled by Republicans.

The EPA, using its authority under the Clean Air Act, proposed the first rule phase, covering future power plants, last September.

In this the more politically contentious phase of the plan, it is widely believed the EPA will depart from the “inside the fence-line” convention of earlier environmental regulations for mercury and other pollutants, which focused on emissions-scrubbing on specific power plants.

The EPA administrator, Gina McCarthy, is seeking steep reductions – as much as 25% – but she has hinted repeatedly that she will allow states latitude in how they reach those targets.

The plan would allow electricity companies to reduce pollution by shutting down the oldest and most polluting coal plants. They can install carbon-sucking retrofits. They can expand wind and solar energy, upgrade the electrical grid, encourage customers to update to more efficient heating and cooling systems, or more efficient appliances and lightbulbs.

“They have recognised huge emissions reductions opportunities are often cheaper than trying to do it all inside the plant,” said David Doniger, who heads the climate programme at the NRDC. “If you want to get substantial reductions and you want to get it economically, you have to take into account a system-wide approach.”

The EPA to expected to try to soften the impact of the regulations by coming out with a range of targets, taking account of the energy mix in different states, and by allowing a two-step phase-in of the targets, with steeper cuts delayed until 2030.

But campaigners and industry are bracing for a fight.

The Chamber of Commerce, one of the major opponents of the environmental regulations, said in a report on Wednesday the EPA regulations would cost $51bn a year in higher electricity prices and lost jobs and investment – but those figures were disputed.

Coal mining companies, power plant operators that are heavily dependent on coal, attorney generals in about a dozen Republican-controlled states, and conservative think tanks also argue the system-wide approach oversteps the EPA’s authority, and are lining up for legal challenges.

“I suspect we will see more environmental litigation as it relates to CO2 emissions going forward from a variety of sources,” said Karen Harbert, who heads the Chamber’s energy institute.

America’s carbon dioxide emissions have been falling over the last few years to the lowest levels since the 1990s, because of a switch from coal to cheaper natural gas, and on a smaller scale increased investment in renewables. The economic downturn also reduced demand for electricity.

The White House said those changes – which were mainly market-driven – showed the EPA regulations would not hurt the economy as critics claim.

“We can transform our energy system to be less carbon intensive while still growing the economy,” Obama’s counsellor, John Podesta, told a conference call.

The EPA rules would fix those reductions in place and – as several campaigners and energy analysts noted – be a relatively easy reach for a large number of states which have already moved to cut emissions and expand wind and solar power.

More than 30 states already have regulations promoting renewable energy. Minnesota and Colorado are pledged to get 30% of their power from renewables by 2020.

Meanwhile, nine north-eastern states and California are already rewarding power companies which cut carbon through operating cap-and-trade systems.

Those changes in the energy landscape – and an intense outreach campaign by McCarthy and other officials – could defuse of the opposition, said Paul Bledsoe, an energy consultant who served on Bill Clinton’s climate change task force. “I think there is a divide between the companies,” he said. “Coal heavy companies are going to fight it tooth and nail, especially behind the scenes, legally. The more gas, nuclear and renewable-heavy companies are going to be more sanguine about it.”

The EPA rules could also end up vastly expanding regional cap-and-trade programmes. Kelly Speakes-Backman, who heads the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative in the north-east, said she had already had quiet approaches from a number of state officials.

She said the nine states in RGGI had already cut carbon dioxide emissions 40% from 2005 levels, and were aiming to halve carbon pollution by 2020. The new EPA rules would be a “game-changer” for cap-and-trade.

Once Obama makes his announcement on Monday, the clock starts ticking. The EPA will have one year to take public comment from anyone from Greenpeace to Peabody Coal before finalising the new standards in June 2015.

Once those rules are final, the states will have one year, or until June 2016, to submit their plans for meeting the new EPA targets.

With Obama’s term ending in January 2017, those are tight deadlines – especially with the legal and political battles ahead. But it does put Obama in position to fulfill the promises he made on climate change when he was first elected in 2008.

“This whole suite of policies is getting us within shooting range of where we could have been with a cap-and-trade bill,” said Vicki Arroyo, who heads the climate centre at Georgetown University law school. “If the EPA is really restructuring programmes to take advantage of systems wide benefits … then that is just huge.”

Source: The Guardian

Coca-Cola Happiness Arcade — Recycling bottles, one game at a time!

When 15 million people don’t care about recycling, the environment is sure to head towards slow but sure disaster. Coca-Cola wanted the people of Dhaka, Bangladesh to start thinking about recycling with an arcade machine that runs on empty Coca-Cola bottles. Surely, happiness doesn’t end with an empty bottle of Coca-Cola.

Source: Coco-Cola Youtube Channel