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    Bright Future Of Renewables In India, Says CEEW CEO Dr Arunabha Ghosh
    BusinessWorld (Online), 9 June 2017

    The government intends to achieve 40% cumulative electric power capacity from non-fossil fuel sources by 2030, and a 33-35 per cent decrease in emission intensity, which will require a tectonic shift from fossil-fuel based sources

    In India, there exists a dilemma concerning development and environmental protection. While there is an urgent need to reduce emissions and shift to clean energy, there is also the need to provide an adequate standard of living for a large section of the population, which will no doubt increase the overall ecological footprint of the nation. So while there is a need to improve human development indicators, the threat of ecological destruction still looms.

    The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has ambitious targets set for 2022 in terms of increase in renewable energy, with a doubling of India’s wind power capacity (which supplies almost 61 per cent of India’s renewable energy needs), and a fifteen-fold increase in India’s solar power capacity from April 2016 levels.

    From 2015 onwards the MNRE began laying down actionable plans for the renewable energy sector under its ambit to make a quantum jump, building on strong foundations already established in the country. MNRE renewable electricity targets have been up-scaled to grow from just under 43 GW in April 2016 to 175 GW by the year 2022, including 100 GW from solar power, 60 GW from wind power, 10 GW from bio power and 5 GW from small hydro power.

    "The direction of travel has been set for a bright future of renewables in India. The 175 GW target is likely to be a floor rather than a ceiling. That said, we need to work strategically to lower risks - offtake, currency, regulatory, grid integration - so that investors gain more confidence, cost of finance becomes lower, and we are able to deploy at greater scale and faster.", says Dr Arunabha Ghosh, CEO of the Council on Energy, Environment and Water.

    Shifting to renewable energy is the best bet for the population, and as per India’s NDC targets with regards to the Paris Agreements, 40 per cent of the population will need to shift to renewable energy by the year 2030. With about 300 million people still with no access to electricity, it is integral that there is a move to decentralised production of renewable energy. Coal is still responsible for half of the electricity production in the country, but there is an urgent need to shift away from coal, given the environmental and health cost attributed to it.

    According to Sudhir Sinha, CEO of CSR Inc, "In the coming years, despite facing stiff challenges to its economy, environment and energy security, India will have no options other than achieving its energy security by shifting to non-polluting sources of energy”. “And, the good news is that India is slowly moving towards increasing its technological and economic capabilities to secure the country’s future energy demand by utility-scale and rooftop PV, concentrated solar power, onshore and offshore wind, geothermal, and conventional hydropower", adds Sinha.

    The ambitious targets of the MNRE would see India quickly becoming one of the leading green energy producers in the world and surpassing numerous developed countries. The government intends to achieve 40 per cent cumulative electric power capacity from non-fossil fuel sources by 2030, and a 33-35 per cent decrease in emission intensity, which will require a tectonic shift from fossil-fuel based sources.

    "India's renewable energy push is as much, if not more, due to its own energy security concerns as it is for meeting its climate commitments.”, says Leena Srivastava, Vice Chancellor of TERI University. “India now needs to urgently prioritise decentralised renewable energy solutions so as to provide access to energy services for all in rural India as well. Only then can we hope to meet our development aspirations, provide decent jobs and propel economic growth through rural economic activities", adds Srivastava.

    California, China Sign Climate Agreement Post Trump’s Decision To Leave Paris Accords
    BusinessWorld (Online), 8 June 2017

    At the clean energy press conference in Beijing, the state’s governor said that Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris accords would only be a temporary setback and that individual US states, China and European countries would try to negate Trump’s decision by assuming leadership in this issue

    With President Trump backing out of the Paris Agreements, there was stiff opposition from the rest of the US against Trump’s decision. In that light, the governor of California signed a climate agreement with China, after declaring that “disaster still looms” if there is no urgent action taken against climate change.

    At the clean energy press conference in Beijing, the state’s governor said that Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris accords would only be a temporary setback and that individual US states, China and European countries would try to negate Trump’s decision by assuming leadership in this issue.

    “Nobody can stay on the sidelines. We can’t afford any dropouts in the tremendous human challenge to make the transition to a sustainable future,” Brown said. “Disaster still looms and we’ve got to make the turn.” Brown held a closed-door meeting with the President of China, Xi Jinping, during which they pledged to expand trade with each other, with an emphasis on the exchange of green technologies to help battle climate change.

    "The China-California climate deal, although constitutionally challenging, is reassuring and sends a very strong message on the erroneousness of President Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris Agreement. California is recognised as a sustainability leader globally and they have once again proven their mettle. If state governments representing 36% of the GDP, over 200 city mayors and 1000 other entities are going against their federal government’s decision, hopefully, sense will prevail.", said Leena Srivastava, Vice Chancellor of TERI University in New Delhi.

    The deals which are non-binding between California and China, just like the Paris accords, call for investments in low-carbon energy sources, cooperation on climate research and the commercialization of cleaner technologies. The agreements do not establish new emission reduction goals.

    California has the strictest climate controls in the country, spearheading the renewable energy movement in the US, however, China has overtaken the US in renewable energy. Xi emphasised the state’s unique economic impact and encouraged California to promote ties on the local level in science, innovation and green development, according to a statement from China’s Foreign Ministry.

    Xi “has definitely given the green light for more collaboration between China and California and, I would say, other states through this subnational-level arrangement,” Brown said.

    California has worked with China on environmental issues for years, including zero-emissions vehicles and air pollution control. Chinese officials recently asked the state for guidance with a carbon emissions trading market they plan to launch this year.

    “China is making a substantial contribution, as are other places in the world, and we are stepping up the effort,” Brown said.

    “It’s a historic event. It will pave the way for non-conventional partnerships going beyond and breaking all geographical, political and administrative protocols as well as barriers to transnational and regional cooperation. I will term it as a beginning of “climate diplomacy” for business negotiations”, said Sudhir Sinha, CEO of CSR Inc.

    Australia gives AU$ 1.1 million scholarships for Indian research students
    Hindustan Times (Online), 13 April 2017

    Senator Simon Birmingham, education and training minister, Australian government, has awarded a three-year tuition fee waiver scholarship to 11 Indian students, worth AU $ 1.1 million. He made the announcement during a visit to the TERI-Deakin Nanobiotechnology Centre (TDNBC) in Gurgaon.

    The scholarships have been awarded to the PhD students engaged in research programmes at the TERI-Deakin Nanobiotechnology Centre in Gurgaon. They are currently enrolled at Deakin University under the Deakin India Research Initiative (DIRI), which was launched in India in 2009. DIRI builds on Deakin University’s world-leading expertise in material sciences, nanotechnology and biotechnology.

    While addressing the gathering at TDNBC, Birmingham said, “The TERI Deakin Nano Biotechnology Centre facility is not incredible because we are commissioning bricks and mortar, it’s incredible because of the brains, the students, the knowledge that is embedded within the facility, and the potential that they (students) are going to realise in so many different ways.”

    Under the programme, each student will get a full tuition fee waiver from Deakin University of up to an amount of approximately AU$ 100, 000 for a period of three years. The students will travel to Deakin University, Australia, for six to eight months during their PhD to work closely with their Deakin supervisor.

    Elaborating on the scholarship programme, Professor Jane den Hollander, AO, VC Deakin University said,” The three-year scholarship programme is predominantly designed to equip the best of the talent with advanced research facilities. Under this programme, Deakin University and TERI will provide joint supervision to the students. TDNBC envisions meeting the demand for a global, skilled workforce in nanobiotechnology.”

    Students selected for the programme include Devangana Bhuyan, Poonam Shashidhar, Mohd Azeem Khan, Rahul Chandra Mishra, Gaurav Chugh, Tanuka Sen, Nandini Bhattacharya, Shifali Garg, Amos Samkumar Rajan and Aditi Pandit. Bhuyan has completed her masters in Biotechnology from Vellore Institute of Technology, Vellore. She also has more than three years of work experience in government sponsored research as senior research fellow. Shashidhar is a graduate from Savitribai Phule Pune University who has specialised in biotechnology . Her research interests are plant molecular biology, plant stress physiology and plant biochemistry. Khan has completed his masters in engineering from Birla Institute of Technology and Sciences, Pilani. He is also a rank holder in Council of Scientific and Industrial Research-NET-Life Sciences, 2016. Mishra, an MSc-life sciences student from the National Institute of Technology Rourkela has been a senior research fellow at the Institute of Microbial Technology (IMTECH) and has interests in immunological and cell biological techniques, molecular genetics techniques and microbiological techniques. Chugh, who holds a master’s degree in Botany from Delhi University has worked as a student research assistant in a Delhi University-funded innovation project on soil pollution. Sen is a post graduate in microbiology from University of Delhi, south Campus. Her current research interests include immunology and antibiotics resistance in microbes, bioremediation techniques, pathology , various aspects of molecular therapeutics especially regarding cancer and HIV-AIDS pathologies. Bhattacharya, a master’s in biochemistry from Allahabad Agricultural Institute, has worked with several reputed research institutes such as the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi and School of Life Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University . Garg has pursued her MSc environmental studies from Delhi University and was awarded a junior research fellowship in 2016. Rajan is from Karunya University and has worked in the molecular plant immunity laboratory,National Research Centre on Plant Biotechnology, Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi. Thakkar is a post graduate in botany from Jamia Hamdard University, New Delhi. Her interests include plant science and agriculture. Pandit graduated in plant biotechnology from TERI University, New Delhi and has been working with TERI in Mycorrhiza Culture Collection .

    Giving more details of the awards, Dr. Ajay Mathur, director general, TERI, said, “Within five years, the Centre aims to have a number of researchers, including PhD students, enrolled at Deakin. With its cutting edge technology at the disposal of these bright minds, this Centre will help India make a mark on the global map for building new capabilities and bringing new innovations in the field of science and technology”.


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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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