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Disappointing Lima UN talks delays climate change decisions
Hindustan Times.com, 17 December 2014
Developing countries have every right to demand adequate financial resources from developed nations to help them cope with the additional challenges of dealing with climate change — the observed impacts of which are increasingly apparent and further predicted to increase with the already accumulated greenhouse gases (GHG) in the earth’s atmosphere. However, it is also imperative to recognise that no matter how successful the negotiations for adaptation funds are, these will be thoroughly and increasingly inadequate to deal with the growing threat of climate change if we do not aggressively pursue early mitigation and the net-zero emission target needed in the second half of this century. Developed countries must be called upon to assume fair historical responsibility for their past GHG emissions, which have given them their ‘developed’ status and which are imposing an enormous and disproportionate burden of climate change on the developing world. However, today the emerging world is accounting for an increasingly large GHG footprint. But the current shares of GHG emissions cannot be used to wipe out historical responsibilities. At best, the relative responsibilities of each country can be tweaked dynamically according to their cumulative GHG contributions since the Industrial Revolution. This is to ensure that the world as a whole remains within the global carbon budget. The disappointing negotiations and the inadequate agreement signed at the annual UN climate change conference COP 20 in Lima, Peru, have once again delayed the urgent action on mitigating climate change and enhanced the uncertainty of outcomes. The euphoria generated by the foot-in-the-door US-China joint announcement just a few weeks ago has completely dissipated. As delegates walk away once again patting themselves on their back for not being complete losers, it needs to be highlighted that the delays in arriving at mitigation commitments are endangering the lives of more and more people with each passing day. Little accountability has been fixed as the ostrich in us refuses to link the increasing extreme events to climate change The time period between now and Paris will again see frantic activity at every major climate-related events. The Delhi Sustainable Development Summit, scheduled for early February, which usually focuses on the annual UN climate change conference and what kind of an agreement we need the next year, provides an opportunity to negotiators, Indian and foreign, to informally get feedback on their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs). Undoubtedly India’s ambition or the lack of it reflected in its INDCs can play a major role in removing an excuse for more ambitious commitments from several developed countries. India has announced several measures at a domestic level that, with minor adjustments, could far surpass expectations at an international level if only we had the will to deliver. For now, the brinkmanship that is, and has been, on display in almost all 20 major rounds of negotiations on the climate issue is that some of the developed country negotiators seem to think that they have the resilience to face the consequences of climate change. These very same countries profess to be world leaders with their leadership limited to economic and military might. But climate change has the potential to wipe out the very base of our economic superstructure — the large, highly unsaturated markets of the developing world. And the armies of the superpowers may be relegated to spending more and more financial and human resources to secure natural resources for meeting their selfish needs. Leena Srivastava is vice-chancellor,TERI University, and executive director, The Energy and Resources Institute

What next for climate change?
Hindu Business Line, 3 December 2014
It’s important for New Delhi to commit itself to a national agenda. International acknowledgment will follow. One of the key outcomes of the 18th conference of the Parties to Climate Change (COP) held in Doha in 2012, was around the timelines for further action. It was agreed that governments would “speedily work towards a universal climate change agreement covering all countries from 2020, to be adopted by 2015” and “find ways to scale up efforts before 2020 beyond the existing pledges to curb emissions”. At COP 19, held in Warsaw in November 2013, parties to the UNFCCC (UN Framework Convention on Climate Change) decided ‘to invite all Parties to initiate or intensify domestic preparations for their intended nationally determined contributions, without prejudice to the legal nature of the contributions, … towards achieving the objective of the Convention … and to communicate them well in advance of the twenty-first session of the Conference of the Parties (by the first quarter of 2015 by those Parties ready to do so) in a manner that facilitates the clarity, transparency and understanding of the intended contributions…” As the world is heading to COP 20 to be held shortly in Lima, Peru, two significant developments have emerged. The first is the release of the various working group reports of the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) culminating in the release of the synthesis report, endorsed by all member governments, in early November 2014. This report underlined once again the contributions of human action to climate change, as well as the need for urgent action to address the challenge. While bringing out in stark terms the increasing risks of inaction and the vulnerability from climate change, the report also highlighted the fact that we do have the “means to limit climate change” and that a variety of solutions exist which would allow economic growth and human development. Positive signs The second key development was the response of stakeholders at a UN summit in September where several governments, multi-lateral organisations, corporates and others made announcements that gave a sense of renewed purpose reinforced street outpourings in support of action to address climate change. As such, both science and a range of stakeholders have, in their own ways, provided an indisputable platform on which governments can make strong commitments if they so desire. On the political side, the European Union announced its commitment to limit their emissions of greenhouse gases by 40 per cent by 2030 over 1990 levels. This was followed by commitments by the US and China to take positive action on reducing their contributions. And finally, we have the G 20 countries’ statement calling for “strong and effective action to address climate change”. All this augurs well for the likelihood of an agreement in Paris, with Lima helping to define mechanisms and processes further. However, challenges still remain. The two most critical of these are: Will the agreement reached be ambitious enough to ensure that global temperature increases do not cross the 2 degrees Celsius ceiling but remains, hopefully, at levels that will limit temperature increase to about 1.5 degrees? Will there be enough support for an accelerated mitigation effort by developing countries as also the need to build adaptive capacity in these countries, given that the levels of committed climate change have increased in the last two decades of negotiations? Irrespective of the answers, India is already under pressure to come up with a credible commitment of its own. India under pressure China, in its commitment of peaking its greenhouse gases by 2030 and increasing the share of non-fossil energy to 20 per cent in the same period, has revealed its willingness to show leadership and commitment and also kept some flexibility by taking a longer term perspective. China’s per capita carbon emission is about four times larger than India’s. At the domestic level, India has taken steps towards increasing renewable energy capacities, bringing about efficiency improvements and inviting investments in public transport systems. However, we display a lack of confidence in seeking international acknowledgement. If we intend to increase the renewable energy capacity in the country to 100,000 MW in five years, we can make an international commitment to achieve this at least by 2025 or 2030. India needs to unambiguously articulate what it is planning to do — conditionally and unconditionally! By Leena Srivastava (The writer is the Vice-Chancellor of TERI University)

Workshop engages students to solve water crisis
Business Standard (Kolkata), 25 November 2014
College and university students brainstormed at a unique workshop here Tuesday to come up with ideas and practical solutions to manage water resources intelligently and solve the water crisis. The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) and TERI University organized an inter-university competition and workshop on water resource management at the Loreto College, Kolkata, with 50 students participating. The workshop in Kolkata is the first in a series of pan-Indian consultative workshops to check students' level of awareness and personal comprehension about water bodies close to their places of residence or study, a statement attributed to TERI said. These programmes aim to create awareness on water and sanitation challenges, to encourage a systemic, multi-disciplinary approach to understanding and solving water and sanitation problems and most importantly, to engage academia and students to help local communities, governments and other stakeholders. "The competition has tried to engage undergraduate students across India to ideate pragmatic and implementable integrated water resources management proposals to solve the water crisis in India," said Ragini Kumar, Associate Fellow, Environmental Education and Awareness, TERI.


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Date News Title Source
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Malnutrition and Its Linkage to Sustainable Development
ThinK to Sustain, 10 February 2012

Nida Yamin, a student at TERI University, explores the long-prevalent issue of malnutrition in India and its effects on growth and development of the country as a whole, and suggests how community-based programs can improve the situation and lead to national nutrition security.   

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