How Can India Make A Sustainable Shift From Fossil Fuels To Cleaner Energy Sources?

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Any average individual as of now would know that the planet is in peril. Anyone like you and I would understand that snowcaps are melting, forests are dying, and more species of organisms are getting endangered as we speak. This is all on a global scale. Anyone living in Delhi would know the severity and potential harm of the pollution that has us gripped at this moment. This is the climate change we speak of, and it is here, at our doorstep now.

India is a flourishing economy. We are nearing 2020 in less than a month, and whether we have reached the goals for 2020 that Late Dr A.P.J Abdul Kalam, our former President envisioned for the country, will be a matter of debate—it cannot escape anyone that the industrial sector of the nation increased multiple folds. According to a survey conducted by the Economic Times, as of May 2018, the Industrial Production grew as much as 3.1%. The IIP (Index of Industrial Production) increased by 3.8%.

According to the GHG platform India, a forum built up by the Indian Civil Society to understand the nation’s GHG (Greenhouse gas) emissions estimates, the total emission of CO2 e with the GWP or Global Warming Potential of 1 according to the second assessment report. For Agriculture Forest and other Land Use or AFOLU, the sum of estimated emission was 172, 304, 759 tonnes and that energy emissions, in total taking both fugitive and fuel emissions in regard was 1,999,778,823. These numbers seem daunting, and they no doubt are, which should, at this point, force us to consider some implications to this grave situation.

Conventional energy sources such as petrol and diesel are textbook sources. We have heard of them, we have worked with them for decades and more now. Non-renewable energy sources might be the more known and go-to option, but the fact is that they will replenish very soon, and they are responsible for emissions of nitrous oxide, carbon dioxide, carbon tetrafluoride and methane etc.

Source: carbonproject.org

The Global Warming Potential, of any GHG, is the amount of infrared radiation absorbed by it and its lasting ability in the atmosphere. For CO2, while it is 1, it can range up to 11 for CFCs (Chlorofluorocarbons) and Hydrofluorocarbons it can range up to 14. What is also necessary to be noted is that CFCs and HFCs are the most frequent emissions by most industries and are emitted by appliances as frugally used as refrigerators.

Source: ghg platform-india.org

For a country like India, which is flourishing economically at a debatable pace, it is next to impossible for us to put a blanket on the automobile, electrical and electronic industries. Still, we as citizens of not just the nation but the globe, can work our way towards some more renewable sources of energy. As of 2019, India’s total electricity production mix is 35% from renewable energy, 55% from coal, 2% from nuclear power, and the remaining 8% from small hydro and other sources.

However, the chief energy consumption in India increased by 7.9% in 2018 and is the third-largest after China and USA with 5.8% global share. The cumulative prime energy consumption from unrefined oil (29.55%), natural gas ( 6.17%), coal (55.88%), nuclear power  (1.09%), hydroelectricity (3.91%) and renewable energy (23.40%) is 809.2 Mtoe in the year 2018. India is principally reliant on fossil fuel imports to meet its energy requirements by 2030; India’s dependence on energy imports is anticipated to exceed 53% of the country’s total energy consumption.

But, India requires to boost its installed renewable energy potential from 78 GW to 175 GW by March 2022. Of that 175 GW, 100 GW is to be solar power. Moreover, India wants to double the share of renewable energy in its total capacity to 40% by 2030. However, issues related to land acquisition, funding and policy continue to come in the way of these projects.

India has progressed steadily towards a more efficient and sustainable way to consume energy. Compressed Natural Gas, is one such example. Biogas plants that are being set up in rural and remote India, target areas according to Dr Kalam’s 2020 goals, are rapidly replacing firewood that was used daily. Biogas literally uses cow dung, methane emissions into productive energy that runs electricity and provides heat.

Some initiatives by the Government of India to support the Indian renewable energy sector are as follows:

  • A new Hydropower plan for 2018-28 has been designed for the increase of hydro schemes in the nation.
  • The Government of India has declared a project to implement a US$ 238 million National Mission on advanced ultra-supercritical technologies for cleaner coal utilisation.
  • The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has chosen to give custom and excise tax benefits to the solar rooftop sector, which will lower the expense of setting up as well as generating energy, thus increasing growth.
  • The Indian Railways is taking increased efforts through sustained energy-saving measures and maximum use of clean fuel to diminish emission level by 33% by 2030.
A girl studies under the light of a rechargeable solar lamp. Without the lamp she couldn’t study at night as her home in Natore, Bangladesh has no access to electricity. Photo: GMB Akash/PANOS

NGOs such as Vasudha foundation, GHG platform-India, Greenpeace India and Pairvi in Delhi, are striving towards making climate change a more pressing topic in everyone’s mind.  Greenpeace India, in partnership with regional NGOs like BASIX and Centre for Environment and Energy Development (CEED), has been operating in the field of energy access for many years. They have showcased successful decentralised rural electrification models like that of Dharnai village in Jehanabad district of Bihar. Organisations like India Youth Climate Network is doing the job of educating young individuals about the problem we are all facing together as one planet, climate change and the dire consequences that would follow were we to keep a casual attitude about our carbon footprints and GHG emissions.

Some Ways In Which Citizens Can Be Encouraged To Use Cleaner Energy Options:

1. Eliminate fossil fuels subsidies and put a price on carbon.

Subsidy reform, coupled with carbon pricing, could create an expected $2.8 trillion in annual state revenues or savings by 2030. Data from the 70 national and subnational economies that have put a price on carbon are about to reveal that it does not slow economic growth but presents a clear and steady signal for business, manufacturing and customers to change direction. Even where carbon pricing is not yet in position, enterprises and development finance institutions can implement shadow carbon prices to drive finances away from increasingly risky fossil fuel options. These steps will help unveil the value proposition of renewables and energy efficiency.

2. Step up investment in energy efficiency.

In India, a government-backed organisation, Energy Efficiency Services Limited, pools procurement to expand markets for high-efficiency lighting and appliances. The system provides more than 35 billion kilowatt-hours in annual energy savings and $2.3 billion in cost savings. Energy efficiency finance also creates up to three times the number of jobs as the same stake in fossil fuels.

3. Improve access to electricity and clean cooking.

Solar breakthroughs joined with high-efficiency lighting and appliances are reducing costs of household electricity, while innovative consumer finance is improving affordability and developing markets for decentralised solutions. Universal access to clean cooking singly could bypass 1.8 million premature deaths yearly by 2030, save billions of hours spent cooking or gathering fuelwood, and better livelihoods for millions of women.

In clean energy businesses, training women entrepreneurs have shown encouraging results and making women’s employment a priority could stimulate market growth. For example, Grameen Shakti in Bangladesh has taught 3,000 women as solar technicians to place and manage Solar Home Systems in rural areas. 4.12 million solar systems have been introduced, improving per capita income by 9 to 12%, generating 115,000 jobs and decreasing carbon emissions by 160,000 tonnes annually.

Moving from conventional to green energy is the course for the future, one that is ripe with business opportunities and long-term benefits such as cleaner air and new jobs. It is not an alternative; it’s imperative to achieve a better economy and better lives.

This post has been written by a YKA Climate Correspondent as part of #WhyOnEarth. Join the conversation by adding a post here.
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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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