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More Hot Air

In ‘A Lot of Hot Air’ I suggested that there are a number of problems with the Paris Agreement, but I had space only to look at the most obvious one. That involved looking at “the Dragon in the Room” and an analysis of China’s NDC. I indicated that there are elephants in the room too, and it should be noted that they are of both varieties – African and Indian. In this article I propose studying the Indian elephant, normally smaller than its African cousin, but in this case it presents large and very real problems.

The rhetoric and the reality

India’s NDC was submitted on 1st October 2015. It starts with a paragraph which makes all the right noises, but says nothing of any value in terms of reducing India’s greenhouse gas emissions. It thereby sets the scene for the hot air that is to follow. First there is the spiritual message:

“Yajur Veda 36.17: ‘Unto Heaven be Peace, Unto the Sky and the Earth be Peace, Peace be Unto the Water, Unto the Herbs and Trees be Peace’.

Followed by sickly sentiment and bombast:

India has a long history and tradition of harmonious co-existence between man and nature. Human beings here have regarded fauna and flora as part of their family. This is part of our heritage and manifest in our lifestyle and traditional practices. We represent a culture that calls our planet Mother Earth. As our ancient text says; “Keep pure! For the Earth is our mother! And we are her children!” The ancient Indian practice of Yoga, for example, is a system that is aimed at balancing contentment and worldly desires, that helps pursue a path of moderation and a sustainable lifestyle. Environmental sustainability, which involves both intra-generational and inter-generational equity, has been the approach of Indians for very long. Much before the climate change debate began, Mahatma Gandhi, regarded as the father of our nation had said that we should act as ‘trustees’ and use natural resources wisely as it is our moral responsibility to ensure that we bequeath to the future generations a healthy planet.”

The very next paragraph, however, makes clear where India is coming from and what its plans are:

The desire to improve one’s lot has been the primary driving force behind human progress. While a few fortunate fellow beings have moved far ahead in this journey of progress, there are many in the world who have been left behind. Nations that are now striving to fulfill this ‘right to grow’ of their teeming millions cannot be made to feel guilty of their development agenda as they attempt to fulfill this legitimate aspiration. Just because economic development of many countries in the past has come at the cost of environment, it should not be presumed that a reconciliation of the two is not possible.

The size of India and its population, and its anticipated growth, combined with the understandable desire to at least ameliorate, if not eradicate, poverty, make this a difficult, if not impossible, circle to square:

India accounts for 2.4% of the world surface area, but supports around 17.5% of the world population. It houses the largest proportion of global poor (30%), around 24% of the global population without access to electricity (304 million), about 30% of the global population relying on solid biomass for cooking and 92 million without access to safe drinking water. The average annual energy consumption in India in 2011 was only 0.6 tonnes of oil equivalent (toe) per capita as compared to global average of 1.88 toe per capita. It may also be noted that no country in the world has been able to achieve a Human Development Index of 0.9 or more without an annual energy availability of at least 4 toe per capita. With a HDI of 0.586 and global rank of 135, India has a lot to do to provide a dignified life to its population and meet their rightful aspirations.

Given the development agenda in a democratic polity, the infrastructure deficit represented by different indicators, the pressures of urbanization and industrialization and the imperative of sustainable growth, India faces a formidable and complex challenge in working for economic progress towards a secure future for its citizens.”

There then follows a table of “key macro indicators”, which are truly problematic. Population projected to grow from 1.2Bn to 1.5Bn (that’s an increase of 300 million people, in case the use of billions lulls one into a false sense of small numbers) in just 16 years between 2014 and 2030. Over almost the same period (2011-2030), the numbers living in urban areas are expected to jump from 377 million to 609 million. Crucially, electricity demand (Twh) is expected to more than treble from 776 in 2012 to 2499 in 2030.

It is hardly surprising then that the NDC makes no reference to GHG emissions in absolute terms, or even against a Business as Usual scenario, since on either basis, emissions are bound to increase exponentially. Instead they choose to talk about “reducing the emissions intensity of its GDP“. This is of course progress of a sort, but far from reducing emissions, it will see them increase hugely, just not by as much as might otherwise have been the case. The extent to which emissions will skyrocket becomes clear by a quick look at some simple numbers. Their key macro indicators include “Per capita GDP in USD (nominal)”, 1408 in 2014, happily increasing to 4205 in 2030. That looks like a trebling, which it is, broadly, on a per capita basis, but bearing in mind that the population is set to increase by 25% over broadly the same period it represents an increase of GDP of c. 370%.

Set against that is this INDC target:

To reduce the emissions intensity of its GDP by 33 to 35 percent by 2030 from 2005 level.”

Maths was never my strong point, but even if that optimistic level of emissions intensity reduction was achieved, it still looks to me like close to a doubling of emissions by 2030. Not very impressive in terms of “saving the planet”, albeit it might be a major achievement, given India’s issues. But what will it cost? This is the really scary bit:

Preliminary estimates indicate that India would need around USD 206 billion (at 2014-15 prices) between 2015 and 2030 for implementing adaptation actions in agriculture, forestry, fisheries infrastructure, water resources and ecosystems. Apart from this there will be additional investments needed for strengthening resilience and disaster management…. While this would evolve over time, a preliminary estimate suggests that at least USD 2.5 trillion (at 2014-15 prices) will be required for meeting India’s climate change actions between now and 2030.”

Given that the USA seems to be expected to put up most of the funding, no wonder Trump decided to get out of the Paris Accords. Will Biden stump up?

The problem with sex

To my mind, India’s NDC neatly illustrates at least two of the failures of the Paris Agreement. The first is the question of population growth.

The Climate Change 2014 Synthesis Report Summary for Policymakers (aka IPCC AR5) is the bible of climate alarmists, so let’s see what it has to say about population growth as a driver of AGW. Population growth is another elephant in the room for those wanting to reduce GHG emissions, and one which the Paris Agreement (and the NDCs submitted under it) completely ignore.

Here are just a few quotes from AR5:

“SPM 1.2 Causes of climate change – Anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions have increased since the pre-industrial era, driven largely by economic and population growth…“.

Page 5 – “Globally, economic and population growth continued to be the most important drivers of increases in CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion. The contribution of population growth between 2000 and 2010 remained roughly identical to the previous three decades…“.

SPM 2.1 Key drivers of future climate – “…Anthropogenic GHG emissions are mainly driven by population size, economic activity, lifestyle, energy use, land use patterns, technology and climate policy.”

Page 20 – “Without additional efforts to reduce GHG emissions beyond those in place today, global emissions growth is expected to persist, driven by growth in global population and economic activities.”

This represents one more example of the failure and pointlessness of the Paris Agreement – by the IPCC’s own reckoning, population growth is one of the biggest issues relating to GHG emissions, yet the Paris Agreement mentions it not once. It lacks so much as a mild encouragement to the Parties to control their growing populations. If populations continue to grow exponentially, then the Paris Agreement might as well be torn up, as significant population growth renders it utterly pointless. But the UN won’t go near that inconvenient truth. India’s NDC makes the point neatly. The critical takeaway from my analysis of India’s NDC is this one, and it bears repeating:

Its population is projected to grow from 1.2Bn to 1,5Bn, i.e. an increase of 300 million people, in just 16 years between 2014 and 2030. To put it another way, that’s an increase in 16 years equivalent to somewhere between four and five times the entire UK population. Over almost the same period (2011-2030), the numbers living in urban areas are expected to jump from 377 million to 609 million.  Again, to put it into context, that’s an increased urban population in 20 years equivalent to between three and four times the entire UK population. Net zero in the UK anyone? What’s the point?

Money, money, money

The next issue raised by India’s NDC is that of finance. The key takeaway here was this one:

“…a preliminary estimate suggests that at least USD 2.5 trillion (at 2014-15 prices) will be required for meeting India’s climate change actions between now and 2030.”

That’s an awful lot of money to be found by an increasingly cash-strapped post-covid international community.

In this context, the Green Climate Fund is worth looking at. From its website:

http://www.greenclimate.fund/how-we-work/resource-mobilization

Responding to the climate challenge requires collective action from all countries, cities, businesses, and private citizens. Among these concerted efforts, advanced economies have formally agreed to jointly mobilize USD 100 billion per year by 2020, from a variety of sources, to address the pressing mitigation and adaptation needs of developing countries.

Governments also agreed that a major share of new multilateral, multi-billion dollar funding should be channelled through the Green Climate Fund. At the G7 Summit in June 2015, leaders emphasized GCF’s role as a key institution for global climate finance. Many developing countries, too, have explicitly expressed their expectations from the Fund in their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs).

So, how’s that going?

As of July 2017, the Green Climate Fund has raised USD 10.3 billion equivalent in pledges from 43 state governments. The objective is for all pledges to be converted into contribution agreements within one year from the time at which they are made.”

By 31st July 2020 this figure remained unchanged.

As of July 2017, the Green Climate Fund has raised USD 24.3 million [this figure had increased to 35.4m by 31st July 2020] equivalent in pledges from 3 regional governments. The objective is for all pledges to be converted into contribution agreements within one year from the time at which they are made.”

As of July 2017, the Green Climate Fund has raised USD 1.3 million equivalent in pledges from 1 municipal government. The objective is for all pledges to be converted into contribution agreements within one year from the time at which they are made.” [this figure remained unchanged as at 31st July 2020]

Thus, in the 3 years between July 2017 and July 2020 the Green Climate Fund obtained pledges of an extra $11.2M, on top of the $35.9m of pledges that had been made by July 2017. So it’s not going terribly well, especially against the requests for financial assistance in the NDCs, which make the hoped-for $100Bn per annum figure look like chicken feed.  As things stand, it’s about $450Bn short.

By the way, the Green Climate Fund is based in South Korea which, by coincidence (or not) is the home country of Ban Ki-moon, who just happened to be Secretary-General of the UN when the Green Climate Fund was created…

Did someone mention coal?

This article is about some of the problems with the Paris Agreement, and an analysis of India’s NDC was the peg on which to hang that analysis. However, coal is so central to India’s NDC, that I could not finish without looking at this issue. The next time someone tries to tell you that India is cutting down on its use of coal, this should enable you to put them straight. Their actual policy is this:

Clean Coal policies: Coal based power as of now accounts for about 60.8% (167.2 GW) of India’s installed capacity. In order to secure reliable, adequate and affordable supply of electricity, coal will continue to dominate power generation in future. Government of India has already taken several initiatives to improve the efficiency of coal based power plants and to reduce its carbon footprint. All new, large coal-based generating stations have been mandated to use the highly efficient supercritical technology. Renovation and Modernisation (R&M) and Life Extension (LE) of existing old power stations is being undertaken in a phased manner. About 144 old thermal stations have been assigned mandatory targets for improving energy efficiency.”

On 17th February 2021, Energy Voice produced an article headed “Coal use set to surge in India despite renewables boom“, and informed us that:

Coal-fired power generation is projected to surge in India as the expanding wave of renewable energy capacity cannot keep up with electrification growth in the South Asian country, home to the world’s second biggest population.

India’s coal-fired power generation fell to a five-year low of 1,064 terawatt-hours (TWh) in 2020 due to the Covid-19-induced slowdown. However, this was only a dip, as coal still makes up a gigantic 70% of the country’s total electricity production. Significantly, coal-fired power is set to come back with a vengeance, expanding by 43% to 1,523 TWh in 2037, when Rystad Energy expects coal power to finally peak.

Still, the surge in coal consumption is not unexpected. India’s power generation is set to grow exponentially to 3,565 TWh by 2037, more than double the level in 2020. Electricity production will already exceed 2,000 TWh from 2025 and is set to break the 3,000 TWh ceiling from 2034, as a result of an electrification boost and rapid economic expansion, the latest research from Rystad shows.

In fact, Rystad Energy expects India’s electricity generation to increase with an average yearly growth rate of 4.2%, effectively tripling its current level over the next 30 years.

The problems just keep coming

There is no doubt that issues such as commitment to coal, having too much sex and not having enough money are massive issues for India’s NDC, making its aspirations almost certainly unachievable. But India is not alone in this respect. The costs of all the other NDCs, as well as the projected population growth of many countries, certainly justifies further investigation. However, transcending all of the above, there is one other fundamental problem that needs to be looked at: the question of lack of transparency implicit within the Paris Agreement process. Watch this space.

7 thoughts on “More Hot Air

  1. Today in the Guardian, I read this, in an article on COP26:

    “The final element is the thorniest: finance. A 2009 commitment from developed countries to provide $100bn a year in new additional climate finance, reaffirmed in 2015, has been $20-50bn short every year.”

    I’m not remotely clear where those figures come from – I certainly don’t recognise them from the Green Climate Fund’s own website, the relevant page of which is here for anyone who wants to look into it further:

    https://www.greenclimate.fund/about/resource-mobilisation/irm

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  2. The months leading up to COP26 in Glasgow should be a fun time for us sceptics. If they arrive in their jets, there’ll be outrage from the natives deprived of foreign travel, and if they don’t the media will be deprived of all those images of indigenous representatives dressed in the feathers of disappearing species and elderly statespeople banging gavels and doing the hokey cokey.

    When Trump rejected the Paris Agreement there was a massive campaign to promote China as the world leader in renewable energy. That’s over, now that the media have swallowed the CIA’s Uighur story and we all mask up and lock down in the dress rehearsal for World War Three.

    It’s going to be much more difficult to push India as the shining light of a carbon zero future. Unlike China they could really do with a share of that non-existent $100 billion a year they’ve been promised, and unlike China they can’t be reviled as anti-democratic, however unsavoury many find Modi’s politics.

    As long as the media propaganda was about the Amazon and small tropical islands they could paint any picture they liked of impending catastrophe being held off by the courageous action of NGOs and local indigenous members of the Monbiot tribe. India is a place people know about. Pretending that the biggest problem facing hundreds of millions with no decent water and electricity supplies is a half a degree temperature rise is going to be difficult.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. You don’t believe china is persecuting Uighurs, Geoff? The US has spent actual effort ignoring the story rather than trying to capitalize on it. If Europe hadn’t decided to implement sanctions, the US would likely have continued to ignore it. Russia, Russia, Russia is still the big boogieman whenever possible. Too many white people most likely. Ironically, it seems that China’s heading more towards a fascistic model of governance than anything else, heavily financed by western money.

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  4. DAVEJR

    I didn’t reply straight away because I didn’t want to derail any discussion under an article about India. Is China persecuting Uighurs? Obviously I don’t know, but given the country’s history, and the existence of a violent independence movement which the USA has recently removed from its list of terrorist organisations, I wouldn’t be surprised. However, the frequently made accusation of genocide is absurd, given the doubling of the Uighur population in recent decades, due to the fact that racial minorities (often living in sparsely populated areas) were exempted from China’s recent one-child policy.

    In article in today’s Guardian by British pro-Uighur activist Helena Kennedy
    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/mar/26/sanctioned-china-xinjiang-genocide-uighurs
    headed: “The evidence is clear: a genocide against the Uighurs is in progress” the author states “As a lawyer, my position on China’s conduct is evidence-based” linking to another Guardian article about a report emanating from the “Newlines Institute for Strategy and Policy.”

    According to Ajit Singh at
    https://thegrayzone.com/2021/03/17/report-uyghur-genocide-sham-university-neocon-punish-china/

    the Newslines Institute report:
    “relies primarily on the dubious studies of Adrian Zenz, the US government propaganda outlet, Radio Free Asia, and claims made by the US-funded separatist network, the World Uyghur Congress… Zenz is a far-right Christian fundamentalist who has said he is “led by God” against China’s government, deplores homosexuality and gender equality, and has taught exclusively in evangelical theological institutions. A careful review of Zenz’s research shows that his assertion of genocide is concocted through fraudulent statistical manipulation, cherry-picking of source material, and propagandistic misrepresentations. His widely-cited reports were not published in peer-reviewed journals overseen by academic institutions, but rather, by a DC-based CIA cut-out called the Jamestown Foundation and “The Journal of Political Risk,” a publication headed by former NATO and US national security state operatives.”

    Later in her article, Kennedy says: “China is as a dominant power in our world. It is taking a lead on climate change, which is to be admired.”

    If you believe that, you’ll believe anything.

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  5. Speaking of India and China….

    “Climate change: Net zero targets are ‘pie in the sky'”

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-56596200

    “Sharp divisions between the major global emitters have emerged at a series of meetings designed to make progress on climate change.
    India lambasted the richer world’s carbon cutting plans, calling long term net zero targets, “pie in the sky.”

    Their energy minister said poor nations want to continue using fossil fuels and the rich countries “can’t stop it”.

    China meanwhile declined to attend a different climate event organised by the UK.

    Trying to lead 197 countries forward on the critical global issue of climate change is not a job for the faint hearted, as the UK is currently finding out.”

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  6. There’s more from that article, but I don’t want to upset the BBC about infringing copyright. I think I can get away with this little tease to persuade you all to read it:

    “India, the world’s fourth largest emitter, doesn’t seem keen to join the club.

    “2060 sounds good, but it is just that, it sounds good,” Raj Kumar Singh, India’s minister for power, told a meeting organised by the International Energy Agency (IEA).

    “I would call it, and I’m sorry to say this, but it is just a pie in the sky.”

    To the discomfort of his fellow panellists, Mr Singh singled out developed countries where per capita emissions are much higher than in India.”

    The whole thing is worth reading IMO, as it touches at some point on each of the issues I’ve raised in the three articles about the Paris Agreement to date.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. The BBC article starts with a reference to “..a series of meetings to find the building blocks of agreement” embarked on by “the UK team” “…as president of COP26, this year’s crucial climate meeting due to take place in Glasgow in November.”

    But the quotes from India’s energy minister Raj Kumar Singh come from a quite different meeting organised by the IEA. And Mr Singh may lambast us for our pie in the sky plans, but he’s anything but a climate sceptic. He continues:

    “What we hear is that by 2050 or 2060 we will become carbon neutral. 2060 is far away and if the people emit at the rate they are emitting the world won’t survive, so what are you going to do in the next five years that’s what the world wants to know.”

    I went to the COP26 site, linked to by the BBC, to find out about the ”series of meetings” but there’s nothing on their News page since 24th February. So I went to their page marked “Pre-Cop” but that merely announces a meeting of Ministers in Milan in November (Italy is our partner in organising COP26.)

    There’s a lot more under the heading “Volunteer” where Glaswegians are asked if they’re passionate about their city. In which case they’re invited to:

    Give a warm Glasgow welcome to attendees of COP26 as a Transport Hub (Airport/Train) or an Accommodation Hub Member or pass on your local knowledge of Glasgow as an Active Travel Route Team Member!
    Or:
    Inspire communities and businesses as a Green Zone Team Member or facilitate the conference’s primary events as a Protocol & Special Events Team Member!

    and under the heading: What’s in it for You?

    – All meals when on shift
    – Free transport when travelling to and from shifts within a defined geographical distance of the city centre
    – A unique COP26 Volunteer uniform which is yours to wear with pride throughout your volunteering and keep as a memento of your experience

    and you get to save the planet as well.

    Like

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