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Lights On Briefing: India’s landmark climate bill, Pakistan flash floods and more

What you need to know to start the week

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Lou Del Bello

Aug 15 2022

6 mins read

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Happy Monday and welcome to today’s edition of Lights On, with this week’s key stories on energy and climate change in South Asia.

I hope you enjoyed last week's guest post by Sunitha Anup - if you are an expert and want to contribute, you can get in touch by replying to this email.

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India

New landmark bill for the climate age

Days after tabling its updated climate pledges, the Indian government approved the legal foundation to deliver on them. The Energy Conservation (Amendment) Bill, 2022, is a comprehensive package which covers the toughest areas of the country’s carbon-intensive economy. The main mandates:

  • Industrial, commercial and transport sector consumers will have to incorporate a certain amount of non-fossil energy in their operations, including Green Hydrogen, Green Ammonia, Biomass and Ethanol 
  • Green light for a national carbon market
  • New codes for energy efficiency in buildings, including residential ones
  • New energy consumption standards for vehicles and vessels

No end in sight for Russian carbon flows

India stands firm in its decision to take advantage of discounts on Russian fossil fuels, with officials reiterating that the needs of an emerging economy trump energy diplomacy. Since the start of the war in Ukraine, trade between the two countries has skyrocketed: India is now the biggest buyer of Russian oil, and Russia is India’s third coal supplier, expected to provide 40 million tonnes by 2035, up from just 7 million earlier this year. 

New agri-waste solution ahead of Delhi pollution season

India’s first plant turning rice straw into ethanol, launched last week, is sparking debate among energy experts. Prime Minister Modi pitched the project to boost India’s energy independence and help reduce air pollution in Delhi, which every year is engulfed for weeks by the smog coming from stubble burning in nearby agrarian regions. However, back-of-the-envelope calculations shared with Lights On by experts in the field suggest that the return on investment may be poor. An investment equivalent to $113 million would yield between $6.3 and $22 million per year depending on the amount of feedstock available.   


Pakistan

Flash floods test Pakistan’s climate readiness

Heavy rains and floods have affected over a million people in Pakistan, causing 580 deaths and leaving over 900 people injured. This year’s exceptionally strong monsoon, which is expected to last until the end of this week, has hit impoverished areas such as the Balochistan province the hardest, submerging tens of villages. The government is speeding up response by conducting a comprehensive assessment of the situation and enabling easier access to NGOs providing humanitarian relief.


Bangladesh

Last ditch measures for the energy crisis

Still in the throes of a months-long energy crisis, the Bangladeshi government has mandated staggered weekly holidays for industries in an effort to regulate power demand. The energy minister has asked citizens to be patient for another couple of months as they face record high fuel prices due to the international crisis sparked by the Ukraine war.

Water talks

The highly anticipated meeting of the Joint Rivers Commission is expected to bring Bangladesh and India together to discuss water sharing issues later this month, ahead of a September visit by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. During a previous meeting last year, Ms Hasina reiterated the urgency of finalising the pending water sharing agreement on the Teesta river, the second largest watercourse in the region after the Ganges. 


Nepal

Old plans for new dams

India’s state owned company NHPC has received the green light to develop two hydropower projects in western Nepal for a total of 1.2 GW of capacity. The projects, one of which was first envisaged some 60 years ago, will have a capacity of 750MW and 450MW, and will be located on the Seti river, with a proposed dam at the confluence of the Seti and Karnali rivers. Nepal’s economically feasible hydropower potential is estimated at 42GW, of which 7.3 are expected to be developed by 2025.


On Twitter this week

Research and further readings

  • Study: Landfills around the world release a lot of methane - A new study quantifies the amount of heat-trapping methane emissions from landfills in Buenos Aires, Delhi, Mumbai and Lahore. It highlights how methane concentration from waste is much higher than previously thought. Meanwhile in India, the outlet IndiaSpend has launched the Chasing Methane project, which aims to build an open dataset of the country’s methane emissions, starting from its major cities and industrial clusters.
  • Feature: ′Migrant-friendly′ cities offer hope for climate refugees - This article visits the Bangladeshi port city of Mongla, which is pioneering a new way for cities to improve climate resilience. An 11km-long embankment, a new drainage system and water treatment plant, as well as loudspeakers to warn residents of incoming storms, are only a few of the strategies the city has adopted to better cope with rising sea levels and increasingly severe cyclones.
  • Study: Are climate finance subsidies equitably distributed among farmers? - This paper analyses the case of a subsidised solar irrigation pumps programme in Nepal. It finds that even when financial aid is there, vulnerable communities (women, ethnic minorities, and poor farmers) were less likely to gain access to climate finance subsidies than wealthier and non-minority farmers. 
  • Analysis: Energy Crisis From Ukraine War: Impacts on China and India - In this interview, Craig Kennedy, a historian and energy commentator at the Davis Center of Russian and Eurasian Studies at Harvard University, examines the potential impacts of Russian oil sanctions from the US and EU on the two Asian economies.


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