bharat ias - Green energy target tough, say officials

Green energy target tough, say officials

Green energy target tough, say officials Context The government had a announced a target of 40 GW of rooftop solar by 2022, but had achieved only about 1.3 GW as of December 2016, which is a little more than 3% of the target. The government is unlikely to meet its much-publicised target of 175 GW of renewable energy by 2022 due to the poor progress of the rooftop solar programme. Issues The policy issue is that the tariff structure right now is such that it is just not remunerative for people to set up rooftop solar. The cost of doing so higher than the money they stand to make. Most roofs in India are flat, and people find several alternative uses for these such as drying clothes, and even hosting parties or meals. There are parts of India where people even sleep on their roofs. So they don’t want to cover that whole space with solar panels,” the official said. There are no financial institutions aggregating demand across a fundamentally disparate set of projects. Unless this is done, it will be difficult to attract the kind of investment needed. The second issue was the de-risking of investment in the rooftop space. While this has been done for commercial solar projects, it has not been done for rooftop solar. The third problem is that there is no regulatory clarity on guaranteed payment by utilities on the net metering basis. What should be done to sort out? The Ministry is considering increasing the contributions of biogas and small hydro to make up the difference. These are doing very well and there is capacity to increase their contribution. The government’s current plan is to get 10 GW from biomass powered plants and 5 GW from small hydro (hydro projects below 25 MW in scale). According to a May 2016 report by the Standing Committee set up by the Ministry of Power, the country has a potential of 19.7 GW of energy capacity from small hydro. It has so far utilised only about 21% of this. ...

Publishes on : 04-Jul-2017 01:18 PM
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bharat ias - Hack It If You Can

Hack It If You Can

Hack It If You Can Context The electronic voting machine has been under strong scrutiny ever since it was deployed in the 1990s. The Indian EVM is a singular instrument with its dependence on standalone hardware-firmware-led machine components to register and tally votes — it is not reliant on computer software or networked components. Questions have been therefore raised about the possibility of EVM-tampering either by the introduction of malicious code (trojans) that could override the logic embedded in the chip, replacing its chip, or manipulating the communication between the ballot and the control units through remote signals or equipment. Steps taken by EC The steps include time-stamping of key presses, dynamic coding in second-generation machines besides tamper-proofing and self-diagnostics in the third-generation machines that are now being deployed. A strict administrative protocol involving first-level checks after manufacture, randomised deployment, sealed strong rooms for storage, and conduct of mock polls has been instituted. The EC has pledged the universal deployment of voter verifiable paper audit trails beginning 2019. Accusations made The Aam Aadmi Party recently demonstrated what it claimed to be a possible hack of the EVM by the introduction of a trojan on to an EVM prototype; it said that, therefore, it was possible to manipulate all EVMs by the replacement of its motherboard (to accommodate a chip that carried a built-in trojan). This critique does not stand scrutiny considering the EC’s technical and administrative safeguards that prevent trojans or the mass manipulation of EVMs. ...

Publishes on : 04-Jul-2017 01:16 PM
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bharat ias - An unequal burden

An unequal burden

An unequal burden  Context Paris Climate Agreement (PA) was signed in December 2015 in an attempt to limit the release and the effects from greenhouse gases (GHGs) in the atmosphere after various countries developed and submitted Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). The Conference of the Parties-22 (COP-22) in Marrakesh in November 2016 continued discussions on the implementation of the PA and specific aspects continue to be deliberated upon in interim meetings such as the recently concluded one in Bonn. Issues For about three-fourths of the 165 listed NDCs, implementation of pledges is conditional upon assistance on the finance and technology fronts. Such periodic rising of the stakes is built into the process of PA implementation, which would collapse without support. What should be done? Improving energy efficiencies across various sectors Expanding the use of renewables But we have to go well beyond that and shift to a radically different pattern of living that no longer involves GHG emissions. Upfront capital investments are crucial for sustainable futures, and without them poorer countries have few options.  Green Climate Fund The Green Climate Fund (GCF) is an international mechanism set up at the Conference of the Parties-16 (COP-16) in Cancun in 2010. Advanced economies should provide an annual assistance of $100 billion, through public and private sources, by 2020 — the deadline is now extended to 2025. The fund currently has pledges worth $10 billion from various developed countries and there is a commitment to fund projects that enable the lowering of emissions and help in dealing with the effects from climate change. Undeveloped countries dependence on GCF India, early in its NDC statement, had estimated a requirement of $2.5 trillion to carry out its climate actions until 2030. The least developed countries, small island states and African countries, which are all very vulnerable to the effects of warming and have contributed little to the GHGs, ought to receive the first priority. In April 2017, the GCF Board approved eight projects for a total funding of $755 million. The number of projects they have supported now adds up to 43, and the total amount is $2.2 billion in GCF funds that have a value of $7.3 billion, if one were to include co-financing. The GCF has the ability to bear risks, support innovation and leverage its own funds for further support, therefore making it a vital agency for poor countries. While there are some reports that private funding for the GCF will increase, these are not likely to support adaptation and will focus on actions that bring returns on investments. Thus, funds from advanced economies remain crucial. Funding constraint of GCF In January, former U.S. President Barack Obama transferred $500 million to the GCF. This was the second payment towards the fulfilment of a $3 billion pledge made in 2014. So far, more than 40 countries, including a few developing economies, have made contributions to the GCF, the major contributors being the U.S., Japan and the U.K., but still the U.S. pledge is only $9.41 in per capita terms — many times lower than that of several European countries. These recent transfers neither fulfil the U.S. pledge nor its obligations as the largest cumulative emitter of GHGs. Countries in Europe will need to pick up the slack, along with other private contributors. Constraints in the flow of funds will prevent even the minimal level of support to deal with climate change. It is not the responsibility of a poor fisherman in Bangladesh or a woman in Sub-Saharan Africa or an islander who loses her house to storms in the Pacific to bear the burden of emissions from rich countries. Conclusion The fact that all countries have responsibilities has been recognised in the Paris Agreement and we are all pulling the ship, but the rich countries, especially the U.S. and European nations, have to do their fair share for the world to set along a new path towards zero emissions. India or any other developing country simply recommitting to implement its NDCs will not accomplish much, since without help we cannot go far and need the assistance that is owed to us. ...

Publishes on : 04-Jul-2017 01:15 PM
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bharat ias - Clamping down on crime

Clamping down on crime

Clamping down on crime Context The police’s perception of public safety and their own role is changing, but too slowly Backdrop Nirbhaya case ruling where SC confirmed the death penalty for four of the accused  contention It is debatable whether the police alone were to be blamed here. Both the state and community at large have a role in shaping public safety, especially that of women and children What do people want from police? Several surveys point to a demand for protection of life more than guarding individual property. State of Indian police Outnumbered: With the phenomenal expansion of geographic areas to be policed, Indian police has been outstretched and outnumbered There are only about 140 policemen per 100,000 people, a very poor ratio when compared to other modern democracies Trust deficit: Well off sections of the society do not trust police and organize themselves to ward off threats or buy safety services from other sources. The phenomenal rise in private security agencies accounts for the growing lack of trust in the state police. Middle class and the poor are afraid to go to police stations and almost always try to avoid them as much as possible Suggestions Lessons from others: Indian police should learn from other countries. Learning in Public administration would be beneficial. Borrowing the best practices from foreign police organisations would lead to a marked improvement COMPSTAT: Under its legendary Commissioner, Bill Bratton, more than a decade ago, the NYPD instituted a COMPSTAT (short for COMPuterSTATistics) programme that analysed crime with the help of computers, identified crime hotspots and took preventive action, such as intensified patrolling. Police commanders in New York were made to report to the commissioner each week explaining how they were tackling crime in their jurisdictions. This mechanism not only brought about greater attention to crime in the field but also enhanced police accountability at the grass-root level Beyond COMPSTAT: The NYPD has recently gone beyond COMPSTAT by hiring a reputed private agency to survey public opinion on police performance. Focused questions over mobile phones and the responses obtained look at how to fill visible gaps in policing Campaign by Metropolitan Police (Met), London: The Met has launched a major campaign against street crime that involves frisking and seizure of knives — a visible, street-level operation that has enhanced security perceptions. The use of large manpower has been the hallmark of this operation. Physical checks of youth in the streets has added an element of deterrence Cautionary note: Above practices can lead to public harassment if followed overzealously by the police. Hence, proper safeguards are necessary before implementing them in Indian context Glimmer of hope there are at least two features which offer a glimmer of hope for community safety in India The first is the availability of a corps of leadership in the form of technically savvy young Indian Police Service officers The second is the spread of Internet use at all levels of the police. An offshoot is the use of social media in day-to-day policing. Information on crime incidents and criminals is as a matter of course conveyed to the public in many urban centres with encouraging results. Citizens are also encouraged to report crime through email or over social media ...

Publishes on : 04-Jul-2017 01:12 PM
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bharat ias - Putting a global price on carbon

Putting a global price on carbon

Putting a global price on carbon  Context A carbon tax is less likely to face political opposition while creating avenues for businesses and growth Carbon tax as a potent mitigation policy A carbon tax aims to internalize the externality of climate change by setting a price on the carbon content of energy consumed or greenhouse gas emitted in the production or consumption of goods  Harmonized Carbon Policies WorldWide Different country-wise policies could lead to ‘carbon leakages’ where energy-intensive businesses will most likely move to less strict national regimes Harmonized carbon taxes hold advantages over quantitative limits imposed through government control and regulation Baseline Problems: A carbon tax regime avoids the problems related to choosing a baseline. In a price approach, the natural baseline is a zero carbon tax Ability to Adapt: A carbon tax policy will be better able to adapt to the element of uncertainty which pervades the science of climate change. Quantity limits on emissions are related to the stocks of greenhouse gas emissions, while the price limits are related to the flow of emissions Price Volatility:From this uncertainty arises another complication of price volatility which is the third reason why a carbon tax policy is likely to cause less volatility in the prices of carbon emissions. Administrative Barriers: Quantity limiting policies are often accompanied by administrative arbitrariness and corruption through rent-seeking. This sends off negative signals to investors. In a price-based carbon tax, the investor has an assured long-term regulation to adapt to and can weigh in the costs involved. Equity based problems:The price-based approach in the form of carbon taxes makes it easier to implement such equity-based international adjustments than the quantity-based approach Cap and Tax Another near-term approach can be a ‘cap-and-tax’ which combines the strengths of both quantity and price approaches. Cap-and-tax might also address the concerns of environmentalists that a price-based approach does not impose hard constraints on emissions Africa as a priority region Any prospective policy regime must give the highest importance to the African continent. A rapidly growing African economy must then be able to learn from past lessons without having to choose between economic growth and climate change mitigation  Conclusion A carbon tax policy might not seem a magic wand, but it is also less likely to face political opposition and compromise while creating new sectors for businesses and growth  ...

Publishes on : 04-Jul-2017 01:11 PM
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