Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The development dilemma: social or environmental goals? No contest.

For all the lip-service that Western governments make to the new vote winner "climate change" calling on the world to pull together to save the planet one should always be aware of the trade-offs faced by the governments of developing countries.

As reported by Reason a recent panel discussion on climate change at the Centre for European Policy Studies included a contribution by Surya P. Sethi, the principal energy policy advisor to the Indian government.

Whenever Western politicians, in their air conditioned offices, pontificate about using energy saving light bulbs it should be remembered that no government of a rapidly developing country is ever going to sacrifice a fall in the infant mortality rate, a rise in life expectancy and a fall in the percentage of those living in absolute poverty just to reduce emissions of a pollutant with little or no local impact.

The following paragraphs provide food for thought. All "environmentalists" should put themselves in the position of Surya Sethi or indeed a local Indian trying to feed a family.
Next, Surya P. Sethi, the principal energy policy advisor to the Indian government, showed that the CEPS study is basically an exercise in climate change policy whimsy. Sethi began by reviewing the development challenges faced by India. He pointed out that 50 percent of its people have no access to electricity; cooking was the largest use of energy for 75 percent of households; and 70 percent of cooking was done using traditional biomass, wood and dung. In addition, 35 percent of India's people live on less than $1 per day and 80 percent live on less than $2 per day. He pointed out that lack of access to modern energy supplies correlates with high infant mortality, low life expectancies, high gender inequality, and low literacy rates.

Sethi then noted that India's economy must grow at 8 percent per year for the next 25 years in order to lift the bottom 40 percent of its people to a decent standard of living. He pointed out that India was falling behind in achieving it Millennium Development Goals of reducing poverty due to persistent energy shortages. "Energy is central for development. Our energy consumption must go up," declared Sethi. Today India uses 471 million tons oil equivalent (MTOE) of energy each year of which 327 MTOE is primary commercial energy. The rest comes from burning traditional biomass. In order to achieve its poverty reduction goals, Sethi asserted that India needs to grow its energy supplies by 4.3 to 5.1 percent per year and to consume 1536 to 1887 MTOE by 2031. (For comparison the US consumes around 2300 MTOE annually now.) "India will need to tap all available energy supplies and pursue all available energy efficiency technologies. For India it is not a choice between energy supply and energy efficiency. It is both." said Sethi.

Sethi contrasted India's current total primary energy supply (TPES) per capita energy use with other countries. TPES per capita is calculated as the energy equivalent of the amount of oil in kilograms (kgoe) a person consumes per year. In China the amount is 1090 kgoe, Brazil 1094, Denmark 3852, UK 3906, US 7835, Japan 4052, and the world average per capita energy use is 1688. Where does India stand? The average Indian consumes the equivalent of 439 kilograms of oil. The eight percent annual economic growth that Sethi hopes India will experience over the quarter century would mean that the average Indian would be consuming between 1065 and 1279 kgoe in 2031. That's about what the average Chinese uses now and is only 70 percent of world's current per capita average.

Sethi said that India could cut projected CO2 emissions between 2012 and 2017 by 550 million tons at an additional cost of $25 billion for more energy efficient technologies. However, he pointed out that the Indian government spent that amount on its social and poverty reduction goals in the last five years. He then pointedly added, "I do not have the funds for both. My choice is to improve the lot of India's poor or reduce CO2 emissions so the developed world can breathe easier." Paying for the new energy efficiency technologies would also raise the price of power and thereby delay its delivery to the poor. Besides, Sethi observed, Indians already pay the highest rate in purchasing power parity terms for energy in the world. In fact, the average household spends one and a half times more on energy than it does on food. Finally, Sethi told me that even after implementing the most efficient energy conservation technologies over the next 25 years, India will still be emitting 4 times more CO2 in 2031 than it does today.


Adam said...

On a totally unrelated note, I wonder if you've seen or heard of this:

I like the idea of this a lot. I'm also a big fan of GIS. What do you reckon?

I must say, for me, thats UEA 1, UB nill. :(

Matt Cole said...

You're right that is a totally unrelated note :-)

UEA are very good at contingent valuation, that is their speciality (and valuation methods in general). Here at UB we do very different environmental economics to them, namely the environmental implications of industrial activity, trade, investment and so on. Having said that, both David and I have published work on valuation methods (with people from UEA in my case), but these methods are not central to our current research.

Shaguf said...

India's Renewable Energy Sector and Green Energy Index Unaffected by Global Economic Slowdown

November 21, Bangalore: The global slowdown can be a tempting excuse for most to put ecological concerns on the furlough. But India is moving purposefully towards sustainable development, understanding the fierce urgency for economically sound, socially equitable and environmentally responsible progress.

At a time when renewables comprise just 11.5% of energy source in the United States, India stands tall with renewables accounting for 32% of total electricity generation capacity. Even China and Japan trail behind India at 21 and 20 per cent respectively. Recent reports suggest the share of renewables in the Indian electricity basket is expected to rise to 15 per cent by 2030 from less than five per cent currently.

For developing countries like India, the global slowdown is an avenue for replacing archaic infrastructures and upgrading and building transportation, communication, energy and water systems in a sustainable manner. "The flip side of the coin is the enormous economic, social and environmental benefits likely to arise from combating climate change and re-investing in natural infrastructure - benefits ranging from new green jobs in clean tech and clean energy businesses up to ones in sustainable agriculture and conservation-based enterprises," says UNEP Executive Director, Achim Steiner, in a bid to offer up a sustainable solution for the current global crisis.

Former U.S. Vice President and Nobel Peace Laureate Al Gore agrees. In a recent article in the New York Times, Al Gore is quoted as saying, "The bold steps that are needed to solve the climate crisis are exactly the same steps that ought to be taken in order to solve the economic crisis and the energy security crisis". And India is listening.

The massive opportunity India offers to deploy finance and technologies to create clean energy products and services, which can leapfrog those employed in Western countries, has not gone unnoticed by the investor and business community and the government, says Dilip Thomas, Steering Committee Member/Program Chair & CEO of Saltmarch Media, the organizers of Green Energy Summit ( ), India’s first and biggest forum for Green Energy, Clean Technology and Renewable Energy stakeholders.

The Indian state of Karnataka, for instance, has set itself a target of generating 5,450 Mw of renewable energy resources in the state by 2012 and 11700 Mw by 2018. K Jairaj, Principal Secretary of the State's Energy Department, and a member of the Green Energy Summit organizing team, has said plans are on to unveil a new renewable energy policy in early 2009, to boost energy production and consumption in the state. Jairaj says the policy aims at creating appropriate channels to collaborate with industry, supporting innovative technology, production and services, providing decentralised energy supply to agriculture, industry and households, strengthening the grid system and creating SEZs to promote renewable energy.

The oft-repeated statement that subsidy-dependent Renewable Energy Technologies (RETs) are not sustainable for the long term have lessened. Tulsi R Tanti, chairman and managing director, Suzlon Energy, recently noted that innovation and technology are rapidly reducing development costs. Two years ago Suzlon was producing power [wind] at Rs. 5 per Kwh. In 2008 the cost has come down to Rs 3.5 per Kwh and it is set to come down by another rupee if the rate of progress continues.

Barack Obama's election as the president of the United States is also expected to give a fillip to India's renewable energy plans. The 44th US President believes the US should be involved in partnerships with developing countries, such as India and China, to provide funding and access to intellectual property that they need and desire. The President-elect understands that tackling the global challenge of climate change requires US leadership, and has reconfirmed his campaign promise to invest $15 billion a year in low-carbon energy, including solar, wind, nuclear and next-generation biofuels.

India has many RE laurels to its credit, says Dr. Arcot Ramachandran, chairperson of Green Energy Summit 2009 and Former UN Under Secretary General. It has the world’s largest decentralized solar energy program, ranks second in the global renewable energy “Attractiveness Index” poll, operates the world’s 2nd largest biogas program, ranks 4th as a global 'Wind Super Power' and fifth in the world in terms of exploitable hydro electricity generation.

With the Indian market heating up while others worlwide freeze over, be seen, be heard and be noticed in India's first summit completely focused on what going green can do for you and your organisation. Green Energy Summit 2009 is a world-class forum for varied stakeholders from solar, wind, biomass, IT, transport, biofuels, construction, aviation, nanotechnology and biotechnology to make their presence felt and attract attention that matters. The summit will be held March 3-7 2009 in Bangalore, India.

GES 2009 is supported by Govt. of India (DST), MNRE, WCRE, IREDA, BEE, Govt. of Karnataka and several other governmental and bi-lateral agencies. Confirmed speakers include Jairam Ramesh (Minister of State for Commerce and Industry and Minister of State for Power, Government of India), Dr. R K Pachauri, Dr. Hermann Scheer (President, World Council for Renewable Energy (WCRE) and EUROSOLAR), Dr. Jamshed J. Irani (Director, TATA Sons Limited), Pramod Deo (Chairperson, Central Electricity Regulatory Commission), Dr. Dan Arvizu (Director, NREL), Michael T. Eckhart (President, ACORE), H.E. Clini Corrado (Director General, Ministry for the Environment Land and Sea, Italy and Chair, Global Bioenergy Partnership), Christopher Flavin (President, World Watch Institute), Marianne Osterkorn (REEEP - Director General), Mohamed El Ashry (Chairman REN21), Dr. Yogi Goswami (Former President, ISES) and Thomas B. Johansson (Director, IIIEE & Co-recipient, Nobel Peace Prize, 2007).

For further information on GES 2009, please visit the summit on the web

A Saltmarch Media Press Release
Ph: +91 80 4005 1000

araon said...

Thanks For posting . Its Really nice . Keep update a more article.
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