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Bangalore, October 6, 2016: After the Hon’ble President of India Pranab Mukherjee set the tone for the need to raise our climate consciousness and create a society that is mindful of wasteful consumption, and to use resources in moderation during his address at the inauguration of the World Sustainable Development Summit organised by The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) here today, the second day of plenaries brought India’s crucial role as a leader in the global fight against climate change once again to the fore.

India’s poor air quality in both rural and urban environments point towards the urgent need to adopt strategies that can provide affordable, clean lighting and cooking solutions to people. TERI’s efforts have already positively affected 4.5 million people living without electricity in rural India, helping them breathe – and earn – better. In particular, its climate modelling and economic analyses have helped policymakers understand different scenarios across a range of sectors, ultimately helping governments plan policies with greater community participation.

An innovative report in the Indian context was also released by TERI and the University of California, San Diego, aptly titled ‘Breathing Cleaner Air: Ten Scalable Solutions for Indian Cities.,[1] The report places the focus on urban development and air pollution in our cities, among the most challenging issues of our times. The report speaks about the need for a collaborative, multi-sectororal framework to ensure the effectiveness of our responses to improve the quality of air. Here are the 10 scalable solutions:

 

  1. Launching a National Clean Air Mission for Multi-scale and Cross-sectoral Coordination.
  2. Transport: Switch to low-sulphur fuels (10 ppm) and implement Bharat VI (similar to Euro VI) standards for engine emissions which require tail-pipe controls like diesel particulate filters for PM and selective catalytic reduction for NOx.
  3. Transport: Shift freight transport from road to lower-emission modes such as rail, inland waterways, and coastal shipping.
  4. Residential: Provide cleaner fuels (LPG, Electricity) and biomass stoves with an efficiency of 50% or more and with a forced draft fan to those who cannot afford LPG.
  5. Agriculture: Develop business models for collection, transport, and storage of agriculture residues and farm manure.
  6. Agriculture: Convert agriculture residues and farm manure to electricity for rural power and biomass pellets for women who depend on biomass stoves.
  7. Power and other Industry: Adopt cleaner and efficient production technologies such as supercritical technologies in power sector, vertical shaft kilns, Hoffman kilns, and tunnel kilns for brick manufacturing.
  8. Power and other Industry: Deploy National Emission Trading Schemes (ETS) with cap and trade for power generation and other large polluting industries.
  9. Power and other Industry: Implement stringent emission standards to control gaseous pollutants (NOx, SO2) and fine particulate (black carbon and fly ash) emissions from both power plants and big industries.
  10. Dust and Waste: Implement wall-to-wall paving of streets and vacuum cleaning of roads; enforce ban on open burning of solid waste; manage waste and recovery of methane from landfills.

Other than these 10 solutions, India’s efforts to meet its Paris INDCs (Intended Nationally Determined Contributions) will significantly reduce air pollution due to the nexus between air pollution mitigation and climate mitigation, the report states.

The report was released during the first plenary of the day—‘Air Pollution is a Solvable Problem’, which discussed at length how air pollution was as big a challenge as it was an opportunity. Chaired by Prof V Ramanathan, Distinguished Professor and UNEP’s Champions of Earth, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego, the session was attended by Mr Kamal Bali, Managing Director, Volvo India Private Limited; Mr A Damle, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Roads, Transport & Highways, India; Dr Carlos Dora, Coordinator – Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health Department, WHO; Dr Dirk Fransaer, Managing Director, VITO; Dr Sunday Leonard, Science Programme Office, UNEP-CCAC; and Dr Ajay Mathur, Director-General, TERI.

Prof V Ramanathan, Distinguished Professor and UNEP’s Champions of Earth, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego, said, “This report is the result of a self-organised task force and it provides 10 scalable solutions to clean our air. We have synthesised available data and our strategised thinking is that if we reduce winter season pollution, we can solve the problem through the year. It is important to remember that perceptible impact is necessary. Since air pollution travels from one place to another, a nationwide, multi-sectoral effort is necessary, spearheaded by a coordinating body which can integrate all key stakeholders for sustainable solutions to the problem.. Let us remember that it is an interconnected issue like the spokes in the Ashok Chakra…only through integration can we have a roadmap ahead.”

Dr Carlos Dora, Coordinator – Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health Department, WHO, said, “We have had good success with advocacy efforts on tobacco control, physical activity and nutrition. However we have not yet moved substantially on air pollution. We all need to know that air pollution is a public health problem of the first order, with far more serious implications than HIV, malaria and other communicable diseases. On this front, we need to track our efforts on SDGs, share more evidences with stakeholders, train and educate health professionals on the subject and create awareness. I thank all the contributors for the excellent work on the report.”

Mr Kamal Bali, Managing Director, Volvo India, said, “Mere lip service to corporate social responsibility is not enough, sustainable solutions should be part of our business models. 17 SDGs have been finalised by the UN and Volvo is committed to four of these – health and safety, innovation and infrastructure, sustainable cities and communities and protecting the planet. We are happy to announce that from next year, one out of our three plants in India will be completely run on renewable energy. We will be the first company to follow Euro 6 standards from 2017. Building a sustainable planet is at the core of Volvo’s long term vision.”

Dr Ajay Mathur, Director General, TERI, said, “What is measured is what can be managed. We must ensure that all of us have an index we can relate to. This is really about the air quality index. There is a personal cost to all of us due to air pollution and that is health, and we need the support of all concerned stakeholders to reduce air pollution. There also needs to be a core, permanent group that can integrate all sectors for collective action. This new report is a tool to help us move our agenda forward.”

Earlier in the day summary, there was plenty of food for thought with five thematic tracks and one ministerial session that deliberated on issues like Resource Efficiency and the Circular Economy; Lifestyles, Production and Conusmption: Key challenges for sustainable development; Energising Agri-food Value Chains through Clean Energy – investing in entrepreneurship and sustainable solutions; Clean Energy Nexus – the way forward in India; Air Pollution in India: a problem with scalable solutions; and finally the ministerial session on how People’s Aspirations and Sustainability are closely related to new governance paradigms.

The Summit has been witnessing attendance by a range of luminaries from different fields, such as Mr Tomasz Kozlowski, Ambassador of the European Union to India; Mr Karmenu Vella, Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, European Commission; Mr Amitabh Kant, CEO, NITI Aayog (National Institution for Transforming India), Government of India; Mr Jaco Cilliers, Country Director, UNDP India; Ms Xueman Wang, Senior Carbon Finance Specialist, The World Bank, Sustainable Development Network and Mr Dipak Dasgupta, Former Principal Economic Adviser, Ministry of Finance, India & Former Board Member, Green Climate Fund. Taking place from October 5 to 8, 2016, at India Habitat Centre, New Delhi, the WSDS is also an attempt to initiate discussions on methodologies to be adopted in order to envisage a plan to realise the Global Goals beyond 2015. The idea is to create a common platform for countries to identify opportunities for consensus and collaboration to balance the realities of ecosystem preservation with aspirations for holistic economic development.

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