Donald Trump had officially declared that United States of America will not be a participant to the Paris Climate Accord. Well, he did what he promised to his voters before elections. Yet, there are so many questions.
In the first place, Donald Trump was simply fulfilling one of his poll promises. And, considering the economic impact the climate deal is having on US of A, it is a better decision.
However, the reasons Trump used to support his decision are partly flawed. He was right that the rest of world is piggybacking on the shoulders of America. Perhaps, the best point and the only one point that can be referred to pull out of the deal is “only 0.20C of temperature reduction is expected by 2100” from all the actions that are being planned by the climate accords. This is a ridiculous outcome for such a monumental effort.
Trump was also worried about the job losses, which he termed are not losses in actual but are transferred to China, India and other developing countries. He promised the climate in America would be better for its citizens. Considering the geographical area and population of America, China and India, he was not wrong. The population density of India and China are the major reason why these countries experience more pollution than the US.
However, Trump’s comparison with China or India was technically wrong. With 12,973 units per capita consumption, America is at one end of the energy consumers, while the per capita consumption in China is only 3,927 and Indians consume a paltry 805 units. Here lies the actual disparity that the American psyche always refused to acknowledge. And not even the proponents of clean energy.
All the climate deals talk is about how to install green energy plants to cater to future use. Energy Savings are expected only due to technological innovations and not by individual containment of usage. This is not bad solution, as people cannot reduce personal consumption, unless effected by the distribution companies like we experience in India. What is bad about this is forcing the nations to install latest equipment from developed countries.
For example, Indian power plants installed recently are expected to install mercury content in emissions. And, the notification doesn’t make it clear whether the monitoring shall be continuous or intermittent. As soon as the notification was released, Europe based analyser companies started marketing their products to Indian power plants. Each analyser will cost about ₹50 Lacs. Though the actual cost of the equipment could be in the range of ₹50K, they need to recover costs spent for R&D. Add profits of the parent company and Indian partner to this. Finally, what happens if the mercury content is more than the prescribed limit? As such, this is controlled by the quality of coal or from where it is sourced.
Has the government checked how much mercury content was in the coal that is being supplied by CIL? If it has and the mercury is within limits, what purpose it would serve by installing an analyser? Not only installing, but periodical checks, calibration costs and maintenance. In fact, the environment conservationist organisations work like mafia. There is no discretion of reasoning being used in while they propagating the ideas that are forcible implemented.
Take the case of solar power. Consider a case of 100GW thermal power plants augmented with 20GW of solar plants. Solar plants do not produce energy continuously and affect the grid with continuous shocks and thermal plants are expected to absorb these shocks. This would reduce the health of boiler in long term pushing the cost of thermal power upside. When the energy storing devices become cost effective, non-conventional power sources like solar, wind would be really useful. Till that time, they cause a sort of a problem to the grid.
It is good to have clean energy. Everyone should strive for that. Problem is blind opposition to thermal power plants.
With such low per capita consumption, not installing thermal power plants amount to depriving larger sections of people in developing countries to their share of electricity and force them to endure substandard lives. Those who normally protest against thermal power plants do so with good salaries for working as ‘Volunteers’. Let the volunteers and their managers and their financers who oppose thermal power to restrict using electricity to the national average before canvassing the need to stop mining.
The need to have new technologies to have cheap and reliable continuous power is greater now. Then, who shall finance this research? This is the question that is now being asked as America went back on its promises. Even as America went back, World Leaders (read European ones) have reaffirmed their commitment to the Paris climate accord. Only thing they don’t tell is will they be financing the accord for the amount America had committed earlier.
Well, they do honour what they have committed. And that is a miniscule amount. That is the problem of over dependence on America. America had been acting as the single axis on which global finance was supported for long since. Who will replace America?
Many expect China to fulfil the vacuum created by America. But, expecting China to play to the tunes of these tomboys, especially when they choose to criticise China on all other fronts is a foolish thing. China, can replace US financially. But, China would do it on its own terms and not on the squeals and shrieks of these diplomatic talking but good for nothing leaders. For China to increase its support to Climate deal, European nations have to do much more than requesting China to take over their nations. They shall become what Pakistan or North Korea had become.
Erik Solheim, Executive Director of United Nations Environment Program, which is ironically based in Nairobi delivered a usual pep-talk amidst American retreat. He requested other nations to double their efforts. For him, Climate action is not a burden, but an opportunity to go for alternative technologies. New energy sectors would provide more jobs in those sectors, he said. Acting on climate means helping countries like Iraq and Somalia, which are suffering from extremism and terrorism, he felt.
It is exactly this sweet language that makes little sense on the problem at hand that forced America to leave the deal. This diplomatic nicety without speaking coherently and acting concretely had in fact exposed the current status the world now finds itself in. These sweet talking managers have made parasites out of every other single nation that have become dens for corruption in governmental spending.
For India, what matters is not whether America is in the deal or not.India’s prime concern is why Indian consumers do not have electricity in their homes, despite the government says India now is power surplus.
The government shall revisit how power tariffs are being selected and imposed arbitrarily by many a state governments. Why commercial and industrial establishments are forced to pay nearly triple the cost of domestic users. In fact, bulk users are expected to get power at cheaper rates. Isn’t it? The habit of not paying for electricity consumed is only one factor in the entire quagmire that is electricity distribution in India.
We hear the power minister saying India is having sufficient power which states can buy from the central grid, but many states choose not to buy owing to higher cost. While some central states are not really interested in buying power from the grid and give to their people, southern states (TN & Kerala), where power shortage is acute are buying power at higher cost, but providing it to their people. This has nothing to do with politics, but with the confidence that the state government has on its revenue collection mechanism.
As India has already achieved targeted solar power generation and solar power is now available at about two third cost of thermal power, and planned to reduce coal mining in coming years the major challenge is to optimise the configuration of thermal –vs- renewable energy and utilise the excess capacity available in the power plants.
As per plan when the new power plants have come up from 2008-12, industrial consumers are expected to grow when these plants are commissioned. However, the coal scam played spoil sport not only to power sector but to other industrial sector. The moment coal was unavailable for power plants, new industries that were supposed to consume the additional power have aborted their plans and thus created an overall excess power capacity in the grid. Added to this was the solar plants pushing the load factor of thermal plants to unbelievably lower levels.
What is needed in India is to change the mind-set of people to pay for electricity. Unfortunately, most Indians still believe in rights and not in responsibilities. It is a chicken-egg sort of situation. However, the onus is on the governments to ensure continuous power to their people and make them pay for what they consumed. Only this way, the load factor on the thermal units will increase reducing the power cost.
Despite the US backing out, it is expected that Tesla and Mitsubishi along with other similar firms to continue research on bigger energy storage devices that would really make the renewable power a better option for country like India.
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