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India is poised to become the most populous country on Earth, with energy demands and climate concerns set to grow in step. Air pollution has long been a significant health concern in many of India’s cities, in particular in the capital of New Delhi, which regularly tops global pollution indexes.
Given that air quality is intrinsically linked to the energy transition through sectors like transport, power generation, agriculture and more, India is a fascinating testbed for policies that can work on a broad scale.
Whether that means shifting vehicles towards e-mobility, setting new industrial standards or making big investments in cleaning up the heating sector, India is slowly but surely making progress. But is it fast enough? What other policies must be taken seriously by the government to solve this problem? And what can India learn from other countries that struggle to keep air quality high?
To tackle the pollution-climate issue, Sam is joined this week by Pallavi Pant from the Health Effects Institute, a US-based research group where she leads the global health programme.
Enjoy the dispatch!
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The cost of the energy transition as it stands is astronomical. But the returns are even greater. The longer investment targets are missed and policy frameworks are neglected, the pathway to a decarbonised economy becomes longer and more expensive. Added support for the developing world is also needed
Finance for development initiatives in emerging markets is intrinsically tied to climate change—from new roads and energy infrastructure to transportation and new buildings. Yet despite the billions of dollars in overseas development assistance funding, the promised $100 billion of new and additional climate finance by 2020 has failed to materialise
With the hydrogen economy gaining momentum in Europe, the industry is also stimulating interest in other regions of the world where power systems are more reliant on fossil fuels. However, green hydrogen in Southeast Asia has different questions that need answering
Cities are feeling the heat more than outlying areas. The increased use of vegetation, reflective surfaces, building codes promoting ambitious energy efficiency standards and district cooling are being employed to provide heat relief and facilitate sustainable cooling for urban dwellers
The construction sector already emits 10% of global carbon dioxide emissions, with demand for new buildings and renovation of old buildings set to increase in the coming decade. A push towards a circular construction sector could help save energy and cut emissions
Cities are increasingly buying electric buses to decarbonise public transport services, a key element in many decarbonisation plans that also reduces air and noise pollution. For an effective transition, municipalities must work with transport firms, bus and charging infrastructure providers and energy suppliers to make sure the switch to a sustainable fleet is achieved without too many bumps in the road
For years, farmers had to decide to stick with their traditional produce or twist and turnover their land for renewables projects. Until recently, it has not been a financially viable option for agriculture and solar panels to live side by side. But new techniques are providing a chance to use increasingly scarce land more efficiently
As with other hard-to-abate sectors, the shipping industry is facing many challenges to decarbonise sufficiently by 2050. Currently, the alternative fuel of choice for many is liquified natural gas (LNG) but the short-term gains negate the persistent long-term emissions. There are genuine low-carbon alternatives at hand if shipping can adjust its outlook
The share of hydroelectric power in electricity generation is set to decrease as solar and wind come to dominate. Yet, hydropower has a crucial role to play in providing flexibility and storage for grids increasingly running on variable renewable energy resources
Carbon prices at sufficiently high levels can push firms to internalise the costs of greenhouse gas emissions while providing a long-term price signal to drive investments needed for decarbonisation. Emission trading systems and carbon taxes feature in a growing number of climate strategies, but even the most well-designed instruments must be accompanied by other policy measures if emissions reductions goals are to be reached
Vietnam’s mobility sector is beginning to gain momentum but will soon hit the buffers unless national charging infrastructure can emerge
Once carbon has been captured, the next piece of the puzzle is storing it. One option being explored in Iceland is to mineralise the carbon so it forms as solid rock below the ground—providing a more permanent storage solution. With the growth of carbon markets around the world, the finances behind this plan are also looking solid
With the world facing an energy and a biodiversity emergency, realisation is growing that solutions need to be made compatible with sustainability in both areas
China has pledged to peak carbon emissions by 2030 at the latest, but its economic plan for 2021-2025 is expected to approve the building of more coal-powered plants
Offshore wind’s complexities and high capital cost make it harder for the sector to gain a foothold in developing markets
The model of taking coal plants offline in exchange for renewable energy finance is growing in popularity with a concessional funding version underway in Chile. But experts are concerned the incentives could be unnecessary and may even encourage some plants to stay online
Despite significant renewables potential in Laos, Vietnam and Indonesia, the burning of coal remains an important element of the economy. Changing attitudes and the climate emergency mean these countries are looking for an exit route but it will not be easy
Japan is one of more than 130 nations pledging to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. However, its path may be more complicated than anticipated given Japan’s reliance on both fossil fuels following public scepticism over nuclear power
Southeast Asia’s reliance on liquified natural gas is putting the region’s carbon reduction targets in jeopardy. But cost considerations currently outweigh environmental concerns
Financial problems are currently the biggest block to wind energy achieving its full potential in India and with elections forecast for 2019, the situation will not be resolved in the coming months
Enshrine stability and predictability in law to ramp up investment
India, struggling with traffic congestion, air pollution, scarcity of piped water and inadequate sewage treatment, is embarking on a mission to build at least 100 so-called smart cities. Technology companies are stepping up to the mark.