Friday, March 13, 2015

Climate Reality Guru Nobel laureate and former US vice-president Al Gore crusader of climate change.So where does India stand? Elsie Gabriel


Climate Reality Guru Nobel laureate and former US vice-president Al Gore is crusader of climate change.So where does India stand on its way to Paris?

By Climate Reality Mentor Elsie Gabriel, Mumbai, India.

I don’t know about you, but I want to share that I grew up as a child studying almost every evening under the dim light of a kerosene lantern or candles, atleast for a few hours daily. I grew up in West Bengal India and with parents who were teachers in the Irish Christian Brothers school it was a routine thing to do, study, read books or play outdoors and study some more.We had the best of amenities and the best of childhood memories playing outdoors in the wilderness, but ‘Power cuts’ and ‘Lights out’ are words which still ring in my ears, reminding me of how we would struggle to bring light into the house during study hours. This, believe me was the experience of most folks of my age during childhood, and guess what, some parts of India still go through such chronic lack of energy, un announced power cuts which paralyze industries, homes and households. Till today!!!

 And some ofcourse still do not have any power at all. Electricity consumption in our country has been increasing at such high speed due to population growth and economic development. India’s economy faces increasing challenges because energy supply is struggling to keep pace with demand and there are energy shortages (as much as 15 percent daily in some places) almost everywhere in the country as unreliable supplies still threaten India’s economic growth. This may sound strange to you because you live in a city or uptown,because we belong to only the tip of the ice berg of the Indian population, for that matter anyone reading this blog any where in the world right now.

Yet, the fact remains that our growth is constrained by energy supply and availability. Although we have seen an impressive increase in installed capacity addition, we still can not match the demand.

So, what can India do to meet the future energy demands and help eliminate wide-ranging power outages in the future? The government needs to research how best to address the power needs to meet the future growth and prevent such massive power failures. India’s ‘power blackout’’ is an opportunity to develop sustainable energy solutions. Let the ‘darkness of the power cuts’ show us the way!

We are a sun shining country, the source is for free, we as a country have always been eco friendly, using sunlight to dry our clothes and tumble dry our utensils out on the racks outdoors. More so, use earthen pots made of clay to set our curd and drink water or hot ‘chai’ tea from. We stored water in earthen vessels.We have mostly used'pital' 'tamba' or steel plates which could be recycled like forever...we used bio degradable ‘patals’ or plates made from leaves. It was auspicious to eat from them during marriages or religious functions. May be the newer generation may not but believe me, we Indians had parents and grandparents who used a set of cloth bags all their lives. One for the fish market, another for the vegetables and rations so on, they were washed after each use and reused!!

All these memories came flashing back during a meet led by former US Vice President  Al Gore which aimed to focus on the renewable energy potential for India and the key role that the country plays in the lead up to the discussions in France later this year. High-profile leaders in renewable energy joined Nobel laureate and former US vice-president Al Gore here to train Climate Reality Leaders here in India last month, on the science of climate change and solutions for the climate crisis while developing skills to effectively communicate about both the challenges and opportunities.

The speakers included  Ken Berlin, president & CEO, Climate Reality Project; Ajay Mathur, director general, Bureau of Energy Efficiency, Dr. Henry Pollack, Professor Emeritus, University of Michigan and Angela Rutter, director of strategic engagement, Australian Conservation Foundation, among many others.

"There are many reasons to be optimistic about our ability to solve the climate crisis," said Gore, chairman and founder of the Climate Reality Project, who outlined the details, graphs and statistics as well as the wrath of climate change, asking the world to wake up.

"The Climate Reality Leadership  training brought together committed activists and citizens from all over India and from several others nations, it gives me yet another reason to be hopeful." he added. Al Gore is the guru of Climate Change education and awareness, his effects on people are deep and his message will spread far and wide. India was indeed blessed to have him visit, train and resurrect the mission to fight climate change tooth and nail.

Today, I feel empowered with the best tools possible to communicate this message of hope. If we educators can teach the next generation about the climate reality we will be equipping the future. Please do get in touch with us for Climate Change educational presentations. Together we can fight climate change.

With awareness of climate change having grown exponentially, Evangelist of Climate Change Education Al Gore also announced that songwriter and singer Pharrel Williams will together present the  Live Earth concerts to take place June 18 at various venues across the world. Live Earth Road to Paris 2015 seeks to build momentum heading into the UN Climate Summit in Paris in December.

Reduce, Reuse, Rethink, Replenish, Recycle and Renew!! I repeat this daily to all my colleagues, friends and students, it is the like the holy grail of the basics that can help bring back planet Earth to the greener planet she was and to fight climate change.

So, where does India stand and where can we go from here? Renewable energy is the most attractive investment because it will provide long-term economic growth for India. A favorable renewable energy policy could create millions of new jobs and an economic stimulus.

India has no better option than to reach out and soak in the sun. Solar energy is the most cost-effective option for India to reduce 'energy poverty' without having to extend national grid services to provide power for individual homes and buildings.

 Aggressively expand large-scale distribution of  renewable energy including solar and  wind, hydro and  biomass to ease the strain on the present transmission.

Yes, Solar is getting cheaper world wide but in India, the government must develop favorable  policies to ease the project permitting process, and to provide startup funds to promote the exponential growth of renewable energy. We already have solar, we are progressing but lets promote solar more among the public users, so that it does not have to compete with conventional energy generation.

Once  research institutions are tapped, industry, government and civil society will follow the path to solar, to guide technology development. A corresponding investment will be required in transmission and distribution.

The country  is hopefully shutting down coal slowly and now knows that pursuing a fossil fuel-led growth strategy which is already bogged down by environmental concerns is not the way out! So, while bridging the gap lets get clean energy, sustainable and renewable sources.
With countries coming to Paris this December to reach a new climate change agreement, lets hope bigger polluters commit to goals as against to saving their country from economic growth.
Hopefully a balance will be drawn somewhere in peace.
 Here is hoping that India will also continue to move forward because they realize the benefits of action which  is not only the health of the planet but the health of their citizens.
We as a country know that India already has the lowest per-capita emissions among major nations but this is what can make us leaders, world leaders in solar if the government would provide a predictable policy regime with standard guidelines for approving renewable energy developments.

Each country, agreed, will have different responsibilities in fighting the climate change threats, it is no use comparing India to other countries but to collaborate and co-operate.

India can be the true contender of climate leadership!

“Elsie Gabriel, attended the event as a Climate Reality Mentor from Mumbai mentoring two groups of trainees, She is founder of the Young Environmentalists Programme Trust an NGO dedicated over the last decade in educating  the youth and community on Climate change,environment education and green living habits as a certified green teacher.She is also the award winning author of the book called Get Out Get Going Outdoors which has chapters on climate change. The Climate Reality Project is an organization involved in education and advocacy related to climate founded by  Al Gore. “