Climate Change – Need for mainstreaming sustainability
Need for forging framework with an integrated Carbon and Water foot print approach for sustainable development and aims to create the “preferred” future? It’s important the world’s ecological assets need to become central to decision makers across the world and accounting for direct and indirect implications of actions in all sectors.
The need is to agree and adapt an approach that tackles climate change and strives for sustainability and that where timelines are strictly adhered to in a very transparent manner.
It would be critical for living and achieving the Millennium Development Goal (MDG).
1. An approach that is Inclusive and Integrated
Tackling climate change and ensuring Sustainable Development has to be made an inclusive, multi-stakeholder process and the active participation of the corporate sector, banks, and financial institutions is essential. The central problem for sustainable development is how to balance the resource use and environmental impacts of economic production with the benefits of that production to society. Therefore there is a need to develop an integrated Footprint approach for the assessment of the environmental impacts of production and consumption. Looking at carbon in isolation rather than overall resources like water, food, timber, marine, and many other resources may be more justified today.
The integrated concept would help understanding the diverse pressures human activities place on the planet. It represents a quantifiable and rational basis on which we limit the use of freshwater consumption, greenhouse gas emissions, as well as on how to address the sustainability of natural capital use across the globe. The two indicators selected are characterized by the capacity to represent the environmental consequences of human activities and have to be regarded as complementary in the sustainability of resources and planet as whole.
2. Recognize that Carbon and Water Footprints are intertwined and cannot be addressed in isolation
It has been widely recognized that Carbon and Water Footprints complement traditional analyses of human demand by coupling producer and consumer perspectives. These indicators present a quantifiable and rational basis on which to begin discussions and develop answers regarding the efficiency of production processes, the limits of resource consumption, the international distribution of the world’s natural resources, and how to address the sustainability of the resources across the globe.
The Water and Carbon Footprint may cover a wide-enough range of environmental policies and, particularly for what concern sustainable production and consumption issues. In country like India where 70% of irrigation water is dependent on ground water with free energy and limited regulation around ground water this makes lot more sense. India has about 16 per cent of the world’s population as compared to only 4 per cent of its water resources.
The focus has to be to evolve an environment where water is available for all in a sustainable manner – safe drinking water for basic needs, adequate water for agriculture, water for industry and for the ecosystem. The Government specifically needs to ensure sure that agricultural policies are coherent with goals of water protection. The national targets on water footprint reduction should be translated to specific reduction targets for products, producers and sectors.
3. Low carbon and clean energy asset finance Strategic to financial institutions
The biggest impact banks and financial institutions have on the environment and climate, and on the world, are through the lending decisions they make. The banks may play an active role in low-carbon energy transition in developing countries to increase the scale, and thereby the impact, of the transition.
The low carbon and clean energy asset finance offer multi-billion dollar business opportunity to Indian financial institutions and banks for lending to a “preferred future” and mainstreaming sustainable development. Clean energy systems, i.e., renewable energy and energy efficiency systems, will play a key role in decarbonizing the energy sector, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and address the climate change issue. However we need to address various factors which include increased investment costs, appropriate technology transfer, technology management and augmenting the capacity of developing countries to integrate innovative technologies.
The banks and financial institutions need to consider that addressing environmental issues is a matter of strategy and can be evaluated based the actions being taken, and the benefits realized. This could lead to a deeper understanding of the opportunities inherent in financing a greener business, adopting new approaches to risk management, and cost-saving benefits of cutting environmental footprints both inside and outside a bank’s walls.
4. Play the lead by implementing a sustainable solution for managing Carbon and Water footprints.
India’s plan to become of the largest solar power markets in the world has received a massive boost as the latest estimates of its solar power potential. The National Institute of Solar Energy in India has determined the country’s solar power potential at about 750 GW. The solar power potential has been estimated using the wasteland availability data in every state and jurisdiction of India. The estimate is based on the assumption that only 3% of the total wasteland available in a state is used for development of solar power projects. Besides other renewable energy sources have a potential for 120 GW. The potential would on a conservative basis translate into more than USD 1 trillion capital investments for banks. A country like India has 30 million agriculture pump-sets which can be replaced over a period of 15 years by Solar Powered Pump sets which itself would need USD 100 billion capital investment. Giving a major push to micro-irrigation program especially drip irrigation for reducing water foot print
Given the water scarcity, over exploitation of water resources and growing need for food increasing production, micro-irrigation needs to be given a major push as it may help solve three of the most important issues- water scarcity, rising pumping (energy) costs and depressed farm profits. Advantages of drip irrigation are it saves of irrigation water (approx 30-40%) , ensures Crop yield enhancement increases fertilizer use efficiency and saving of fertilizers, saves electric power in pumping (29-40%) and reduces CO2e emission. Drip Method of Irrigation increases the water use efficiency in irrigation which subsequently reduces energy and CO2e. There is direct relationship that has been observed between groundwater irrigation development and electricity use in Indian agriculture. Macro level data clearly suggests that the electricity consumption in agriculture has been increasing along with the increase in groundwater irrigated area. There is a business case for sustainable energy. Innovative financing approaches and new business models can tackle barriers from the grass-roots level and can ensure better offtake.
To sum up ……
While meeting the sustainability objectives will require taking an integrated view the present environmental framework, enacting strong legislation and introduction of new enabling policies, there is need for adopting a holistic approach to water, energy policy and planning.
For a sustainable, inclusive and preferred future!
The views expressed are purely personal
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