My first published article after graduation from IIT Mumbai was about Solar Energy. That time the price per barrel had risen from 3 dollars to 32 dollars. I was writing about the potential of Solar Energy. I wrote at that time” All energy sources are natural. But nature has been democratic in dispersing its energy-wealth. Asian continent which is teeming with more than 50% of world’s population is almost energy starved with only 20% of the total energy production. ….Nature may not be democratic but it is great compensator. To some women nature gives the beauty of Madonna and brains of linnet. For country like Japan, which has been starved of material resources, it has given its people sense of total dedication to make that country what it is today. It has deprived India of fossil energy resources but has bestowed her with a sea of human work-force and intensively bright sun light which is source of virtually endless and pollution-free source of energy.”

I kept writing. I never published a book. But nature is great compensator. Those who are not able to publish a book, it has given the whole world of internet to write ….I keep writing.

EU-India : Spice route and Solar Route

Solar Canal India Europeans waded through seas to set up the spice-route to India. Did they miss Solar Route?  Still there is time to explore, invest and trade.  Article appeared in special issue of Biz@India on the occasion of  10th anniversary of EU-India Strategic Partnership agreement signed on 8th Nov 2004 at The Hague.  (more…)

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OLDEST CIVILIZATION WITH YOUNGEST POPULATION

 

Young_voters_show 

INDIA’S ASSETS FOR THE SUSTAINABLE WORLD: I wrote for the special issue of ‘Vanarai’-a magazine published by an organization led by Former Commerce Minister of India , Mr. Mohan Dharia.  (more…)

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International Climate Treaty : A Pipe dream ?

Pipe dream climate change

I was invited by New York Times to give my expert remarks on ” Should we give up on the idea of a strong international treaty on global warming as a pipe dream, or should we continue to pursue it despite the long-running difficulties?” My remarks appear below.

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India’s ECO2logical Challenges

India Environment
A first ever Indian King, who adopted ecologically sustainable governance as his priority, ruled India 2300 years back. (more…)

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Obama announces mechanism to limit the GHG emissions

Ny times

My invited opinion on path breaking announcement by President Obama to limit and reduce the GHG emissions from coal fired power plants in USA. A message for developing countries? (more…)

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The New York Times: Invites My Opinion on IPCC Fifth Assessment

 

nytimes

It is not the strongest species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the ones most responsive to change, it has been said of the theory of natural selection. We should mimic  color chugging reptiles (more…)

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From Farm to Fork- Sustainably

Farm to fork 1 Food chain is something students get to know early in their schooling. But with increasing ecological challenges, students and everyone else needs to quickly learn the new food chain – the green food chain. (more…)

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Planetary Opportunity for Profiting the People: CSR in India

CSR

India’s amendment to Companies Bill 2013, which has been recently cleared, has come as a whiff of fresh air. It heralds a new era in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), not just in India but internationally. India-EU business, if takes the CSR route, can become a big opportunity. (more…)

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Biodiversity: Why should we care?

 

lions - drinking-waterMany have questioned me: if the evolution is the fundamental characteristic of the nature-where weak species vanish and strong survive, where stronger feeds on weaker, where faster grabs and nourishes over the slower, where one with sturdy  muscles and sharper teeth feasts on softer muscles-why at all we care for conservation of biodiversity? (more…)

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The Shangri-La-Man’s Mission Impossible!

Ritu First from Right  

Ozone Protector from Bhutan Gets elected to the parliament.

 Talking to Ritu Raj Chhetri in Thimpu, capital of Bhutan, over telephone from Amsterdam in the Netherlands was like talking to some one who is much nearer to Stratospheric Ozone Layer from the place which is vertically farthest from it. Thimpu is third highest capital-city in the world. Amsterdam is one of the lowest capital-city in the world with its height below mean sea level. (more…)

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Partial Eclipse: Solar Crisis and Sun Shine

solar-eclipse wind mill -2012

I was invited to write an article on the occasion of OECD Forum of May 2013 about recent ups and downs of the progress and prospects of   PV modules and panels in context of its falling prices.  Read the article that was published in special issue of OECD Forum: “Partial Eclipse”. (more…)

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May Revolution in China

China Long March

This time it is about cooling with flammable refrigerants

26th May 2013

Come May. My Chinese history-buds start sensing a revolution in the air. I recall discussing with the Chinese professors way back in 1993, when China was cracking open the doors to outsiders, the root causes and impacts of well -known Forth May Revolution that began in Beijing University in 1919.

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Special for Cannes- 2013: 100 years of Marathi Cinema

100 years of Marathi cinema

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From Rafale-Fighters to Eco-Fighters

Rafale_Jet_Flying_MdDWould India and France recognize trade and investment opportunities in social business that promotes sustainable development? I raise the question when Indo-French collaboration is already in the limelight due to multi-billion dollar Rafale deal. (more…)

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Back to Nature through Reverse migration

 

Back to nature Reverse migrationEnvironmental Restoration and living with nature is turning out to be the key for reversing the trends of urban migration. (more…)

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Story of Broken Promises and Inertia

Published for G20 summit Nov 2011:

Broken Promises Climate Change

The battle against climate change and global warming (more…)

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The Oldest Civilisation with the Youngest Population

INDIA’S ASSETS FOR THE SUSTAINABLE WORLD

(Invited  article that appeared with its translation in Marathi in the special issue of ” Vanarai ” published on the occassion of its 25th Anniversary in 2011. Vanarai is NGO founded by Dr. Mohan Dharia , Former Minister of Commerce of India and Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission, India )

Every one, when young,  plays with the ball. We throw it, kick it, bounce it, and catch it. Later in the life we do the same, but with another enormous ball called “the Earth”. We play with the Earth. That Earth  is presently bruised, worn-out and deflated  but  we continue  throwing it and kicking it. Many of us even neglect that ball  like a dust bean kept in the corner. In our quest to so called ‘prosperity’ , we do not recognize the urgent need to care for this wonderful ball-our only home in this universe. (more…)

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Compliance with the Chinese Character

chinaexport

Beijing was bathing in bright sun. Chinese people were waking up to the new reality of ‘socialist market and economic reforms’ started in late 1980s and I saw them upbeat in their pace.  An inspiring event was unfolding at Xidan Commercial area, a major shopping complex in Beijing. Mr. Xie Zhenhua, former Administrator of SEPA (and now China’s leading negotiator on Climate Change) and other high government officers stood at the huge entrance of the market. Why at all the high  ministerial level official was standing at the market place? Should not he be in the decorated hall with UNEP officials to discuss public awareness strategy?

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Reflections on the Montreal Protocol:

Montreal ProtocolA Treaty that goes beyond Ozone Layer Protection

By Rajendra Shende,

Dec 2009.

When I travel from Argentina to Afghanistan, from Mexico to Micronesia, and from Bhutan to Bolivia in my pursuit to assist the developing countries to enable them to comply with the Montreal Protocol on substances that deplete the ozone layer, I do get some rare moments to reflect on the  ‘most successful  multilateral environmental  treaty’ that the world has implemented so far  .

We all know that the ultimate objective of the Montreal Protocol is to recover the Ozone layer damaged by our indiscriminate use of Ozone Depleting Chemicals. Will the Montreal Protocol would be remembered only for achieving this objective only?

There are many achievements that would be remembered by the world community in future. The Montreal Protocol has now been ratified by each and every country in the world –a fete achieved by no other Multilateral Environmental treaty .

The remarkable fact that production & consumption of millions of tonnes of man-made ozone depleting chemicals, which humanity once relied on, was eliminated will without doubt stand in our memory as its greatest achievement.

Future generation will surely recall the unparalleled tale of determination with which the world community decided to accelerate the phase-out of the remaining ozone depleting chemicals such as HCFCs,.

The annals of the history will certainly echo with the message of optimism emanating from the Montreal Protocol on what can be achieved globally when world leaders embrace pragmatism in accepting common but differentiated responsibilities and translating this into action.

That those who acknowledged their responsibility for damaging the ozone layer and thereafter provided funding and technological innovation to address this crisis will indeed be commemorated for years to come.

And as the 2009 MDG report by United Nations stated, the lesson to remember : strong partnership and sound national policies lead to extraordinary progress in protecting the ozone layer.

But is that all?

For me, the Montreal Protocol will be most treasured for reasons entirely unrelated to the ozone layer and ozone depleting substances.

Firstly, the Montreal Protocol has shown that the ‘multilateralism’ can work, and work well  in a sustained manner. Multilateralism was the innovation of 20th century that arrived along with establishment of the United Nations. The UN’s multiparty platform is deployed to resolve and prevent political, social and economic conflicts -  with  mixed success. The work under the Montreal Protocol, in my view,  outshines all past efforts of multilateralism. It is the first treaty that institutionalised the democratic mechanisms for achieving environmental benefits in a ‘multiparty ‘system.

It will also be remembered as the first treaty that has demonstrated that a single focused global environmental accord can deliver a multitude of unintended benefits. The new refrigerators and air conditioning equipment manufactured without CFCs were much more energy efficient compared to those made before 1987. Many of the alternative technologies developed in other areas created ‘not-in kind’ replacements which entirely avoided the use of similar chemicals Implementation of the Montreal Protocol also promoted industrial rationalisation and better efficiency in many countries. And the Montreal Protocol has been the best climate treaty so far having eliminated 5-6 times more GHGs in comparison to the targets under the Kyoto Protocol.

In retrospect, the Protocol will retain its place in history as the instrument which developed, strengthened and nurtured the global, regional and national infrastructure used to implement global accords. The established and  practiced mechanisms under the Montreal Protocol such as: democratic decision-making at global level; best practices in capacity building through south- south  cooperation and networking  at the regional level; and workable mechanisms of  technology transfer and policy enforcement could present a ‘blueprint’ and encouraging example to achieve the goals needed to implement other global accords.

But the best part of the history, yet to be fully written, is that the Montreal Protocol has given a us a first glimpse of the ‘Green Economy’.

Back in 1987, a whole suite of new green business emerged embracing ozone-friendly practices. in recovery & recycling, , and in designing energy efficient appliances. This innovation has continued and green business dealing with the storage, transport and destruction of ozone depleting chemicals will now flourish.. Refrigeration and air-conditioning equipment now uses considerably less chemical to achieve the same results as a consequence of better energy and material efficiency – demonstrating the benefits of this ‘Green Economy’.

OzonAction Programme of UNEP that I have been leading has projects in more than100 developing countries. Each and every Government Official of National Ozone Unit from 146 developing countries is part of UNEP’s regional network and is a member of Ozone Family to me. We all work together to ensure that Ozone layer is recovered, so that we hand over the Ozone Layer to next generation in the same state as we got it from our forefathers. The Montreal Protocol would be remembered beyond the ozone regime, as international accord for ensuring inter-generational equity .

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Piloting the Environment– Business & Diplomacy Middle East way

Rajendra ShendeBy Rajendra Shende, rmshende@unep.org

26 March 2010

‘Diplomats & Businessmen’ That is the signboard at Jeddah Airport in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia directing the arriving Diplomats and Businessmen through a special and privileged lane for passport control  and immigration clearance. I had seen such special lanes only for the diplomats in number of countries. However I had never seen a single special lane for both diplomats and businessmen. Jeddah must be the only airport in the world that equals diplomats with businessmen, when it comes to passport control. After all, why not? Kofi Annan, former Secretary General of United Nations in 1999 at the World Economic Forum said: “….. I told you about hopes for creative partnership between the United Nations and the private sector. …..that the everyday work of the United Nations — whether in peacekeeping, setting technical standards, protecting intellectual property or providing much-needed assistance to developing countries — helps to expand opportunities for business around the world”. That speech was the starting point for the launch of Global Compact Initiative of United Nation’s diplomacy.

Enter the expansive office on the top of the tower of Prince Turki bin Nasser bin Abdul Aziz, President of Precidency of Meterology and Environment . From his office on the top floor one can see far flung Jeddah and the sea beyond corniche. His Royal Highness, dressed in his traditional & elegant ‘thaub’, greeted us with confident and rich smile.   His attendant hurriedly helps him putting on formal ‘bisht’ over his thaub.

I shook hands with him recalling that we had met a few months ago in Port Ghalib when he visited UNEP’s exhibition booth to appreciate OzonAction’s activities to assist developing countries. “I was a pilot and still enjoy piloting fighter planes”, said HRH and added, “Therefore, I know your Halon issue very well!” First time in my tenure as head of OzonAction that I met a Minister who piloted fighter planes and was even aware of the Halon issue. I looked around his office; the models of all the fighter planes that he piloted were on display. One wall of his attic displayed 10 screens screening different TV channels. At the centre was Bloomberg showing price trends in oil and gold. Next to that were environmental channels like Discovery and Planet.

I was in his office to discuss the ‘non-compliance’ of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with the Montreal Protocol-rather sensitive issue for the daring pilot Prince.

I succeeded in getting his full attention to the issue; maybe because our talk was spiced up with technical issues like air conditioning and refrigeration which he keenly talking about. When I said that “the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is one of the countries in the world to be declared as in non-compliance with the Montreal Protocol,” he looked around to his officials and invited a response. After his assurance that his country will return to compliance, he listened to me on the new challenge of HCFCs whose consumption is growing steeply in Saudi Arabia. It is now one of the ten largest HCFC consuming countries in the world, mainly because of rapid expansion in construction of buildings. His Royal Highness made pertinent points about alternative technologies and also the issue of dumping of HCFC technologies.

“We have informed the equipment and technology suppliers that if they sell us old technologies for which there are alternatives today, we will sue them in their country”, His Royal Highness said with calm and determined tone of a fighter pilot. The danger of dumping of HCFC technologies to the developing countries is one of the key factors that would put the country in potential non-compliance. I thought that the best environmental law practices should include such legislations to prevent technology dumping. “As we progress, there is surge in ‘Green Business’ and awareness about clean energy” he said.

I got convinced that solutions of ‘non-compliance’ with the Montreal Protocol do not lie only with Governments, Ministers and Kings. The response mainly lies with ‘businessmen’ that deploy cleaner technologies at the  market place and take steps to prevent dumping of the old and environmentally damaging technologies. .

I understood the reasons why there is special lane of passport control that had sign “Diplomats and Businessmen”.

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Bail-out and Stimulus Package: Yes for Economic crisis, No for Climate crisis?

seattleWhen markets collapsed and when most of the major banks around the world went kaput, the governments around the world rushed to bail out the market. Almost overnight stimulus packages got prepared, approved by cabinets, politburo, senates, and parliaments and even by executive order depending on the political governing system in the countries. (more…)

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Tell Your Mother

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China OzonAction

The day was 16 September 1995. As Beijing’s sky was being lit with the  autumn morning sun, an inspiring event was unfolding place at Xidan Commercial area, Mr. Xie Zhenhua, then Administrator of NEPA and now Minister of SEPA, and Mr. Liu Yi, then the new Director of China’s Ozone Layer Protection unit, were standing at the huge entrance of the market along with other high government officers and UNEP’s representatives. They were distributing UNEP posters translated into Chinese to the consumers that had come there for holiday shopping. The message Mr. Xie and Mr. Yi were giving with the help of UNEP was simple: do not buy products containing Ozone Depleting Substances (ODS) – they destroy the Earth’s ozone shield. To attract the shoppers’ attention, NEPA had arranged for a band of school children to be present to sing songs about environmental protection.

There were no international consultants, no scientific lectures, and no great speeches. The event took place on an open street and the audience consisted of the common people. While the sun over their heads emitted powerful UV rays, the Minister emitted a more powerful message about the need to protect our ozone layer. On the same day, NEPA replicated the message and distributed UNEP’s posters at a number of bustling shopping malls throughout Beijing and all around China. It was event that symbolised the beginning of  ‘grass-roots’ capacity building in China for the protection of the ozone layer.

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Green Customs

Environmental crime is a big and increasingly lucrative business – a multi-billion dollar global enterprise. Local and international crime syndicates worldwide earn an estimated US$ 22-31 billion dollars annually from hazardous waste dumping, smuggling proscribed hazardous materials, and exploiting and trafficking protected natural resources. Illegal international trade in commodities such as ozone depleting substances (ODSs), toxic chemicals, hazardous wastes and endangered species is an international problem with serious consequences. It directly threatens human health and the environment, contributes to species loss, and results in revenue loss for governments. Illegal trade in environmentally-sensitive commodities strengthens criminal organizations that also traffic in drugs, weapons and prostitution.  It also seriously undermines the effectiveness of multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs) by circumventing rules and procedures agreed in international treaties.

National and international regimes for integrated chemical management rely on customs to monitor and control flows of regulated chemicals at borders. International agreements related to chemical management often restrict the national supply and demand of specific chemicals, and some set incentives for phaseout of the most harmful substances. If illegal trade in these chemicals occurs, the incentives set by the MEAs for control and phaseout of chemicals are considerably weakened. National customs authorities need to have the capacity to monitor the chemicals covered by MEAs.

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