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India no longer needs global support to decarbonise itself: UNEP expert

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Representational Image of Ecosystem, Pixabay

New Delhi, May 14, 2017: India no longer needs international cooperation to decarbonise itself and needs to pressure countries to remain ambitious, including wealthier countries that need to act domestically and support developing countries in the transition to a green economy.

Similarly, China today is the world’s largest issuer of green bonds, a new way to fund “green” projects.

So says Simon Zadek, co-Director with the UN Environment Programme’s (UNEP) Inquiry into the Design of a Sustainable Financial System.

The Inquiry is an international platform for advancing national and international efforts to shift the trillions of dollars required for delivering an inclusive, green economy through the transformation of the global financial system.

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With solar procurement bids in India now below the cost of coal, action in this and other areas no longer needs international cooperation to decarbonise, Zadek told IANS in an email interview.

Similarly, within a few years, there will be the massive deployment of battery technology and electric vehicles.

India must be concerned, however, that climate change is addressed for its own secure development and needs to pressure all countries to remain ambitious, including wealthier countries that need to act domestically and support developing countries in the transition, he said.

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Zadek was replying to a question: With President Trump mulling a possible pull out of the 2015 Paris Agreement, do you think this will impede or demotivate developing countries like India and China to continue on its path to decarbonise?

Speaking at a UN energy forum in Vienna on May 11, Power Minister Piyush Goyal said: “The road from Paris to India today has been somewhat bumpy. We will have to sort that out. But I’d like to reassure each one of you here today that stands committed to its commitments made at Paris irrespective of what happens in the rest of the world.”

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According to Zadek, China has adopted literally hundreds of policy steps in encouraging the transition to a low-carbon and sustainable economy, many of which are reflected at a high-level in its 13th Five Year Plan.

“Of notable importance is massive policy and fiscal support for sustainable infrastructure (especially in the mobility and energy spaces but also water, sanitation, land use, etc.), the State Council adopted recommendations to green China’s financial system and the countrywide carbon market.”

The UNEP expert, who has advised companies worldwide on sustainability issues, and until recently lived in China, believes there will be no successful “brown” economies in the 21st century.

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“So the transition is an imperative, and an early transition offers so many first mover advantages to China that catalysing it with fiscal and other policy support makes sense.”

Zadek said funds from international frameworks like the Green Climate Fund (GCF) would not help transition in countries like India and China.

The GCF and other international public funds are far too small to play any significant role for India or China, except in catalytic and experimental roles such as encouraging the use of blockchain and other digital technologies to ease and lower the cost of international capital.

The GCF is a unique global initiative by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to respond to climate change by investing into low-emission and climate resilient development.

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On China’s investments in its green programmes, he said the People’s Bank of China estimates that $600 billion a year is needed to green the country’s economy.

“Today the numbers are far from that but progress is being made with China’s levels of green credit having hit almost 10 percent of total banking sector portfolios and China today being the world’s largest issuer of green bonds.”

On steps India could take to accelerate decarbonization of its economy, he said: “Much more of what you are already doing, ramping up clean energy, including distributed solar for isolated, unconnected communities, shutting down your coal build pipeline for simple economic reasons and preparing India’s innovative entrepreneurs to move heavily into clean mobility.”

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He favoured transforming India’s domestic financial system to make it fit for the purpose and so enabling the country to reduce dependency on expensive international capital.

India’s draft “Ten Year Electricity Plan” calls for a staggering 275 GW of renewable energy by 2027, in addition to 72 GW of hydro and 15 GW of nuclear energy. IANS

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Asia Cup : India Emerge Champions for third time, Beat Malaysia in Asia Cup Hockey Championship

India emerged victorious for the third time

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(representational Image) India vs Malaysia Hockey Match wikimedia

Dhaka, October 22, 2017 : India overcame Malaysia 2-1 in the final on Sunday to win the Asia Cup hockey championship for the third time.

Ramandeep Singh (3rd minute) and Lalit Upadhyay (29th) scored for India. Shahril Saabah (50th minute) scored the reducer for Malaysia. (IANS)

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‘Dalai Lama is a Political Figure under the cloak of Religion, Meeting or Hosting the Dalai Lama is a major offence’ Warns China

In April this year, China had reacted violently to a visit by the Dalai Lama to Tawang, in India’s northeast border state of Arunachal Pradesh, large parts of which is claimed by Beijing.

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The 14th Dalai Lama, Wikimedia

Beijing, October 21, 2017 : As US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson prepares to visit India next week, China on Saturday warned that it will be deeply offended if any foreign leader meets with or any country invites the Dalai Lama.

On the sidelines of the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, a Chinese Minister dubbed the Tibetan spiritual leader as a “political figure under the cloak of religion”.

“Any country or any organisation or anyone accepting to meet with the Dalai Lama in our view is a major offence to the sentiment of the Chinese people,” said Zhang Yijiong, Executive Vice Minister of the United Front Work Department of the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC).

“Also, since they have committed to recognising China as a sole legitimate government representing China, it contravenes their attempt, because it is a serious commitment,” Zhang added.

China accuses the Dalai Lama of stoking unrest and secessionist activities in Tibet from where the spiritual leader fled to India in 1959 after a failed uprising.

The Dalai Lama has urged for more autonomy for Tibet.

Beijing opposes any country or leader keeping in touch with the Dalai Lama.

“I want to make it clear that the 14th Dalai Lama, the living Buddha handed down by history is a political figure under the cloak of religion,” said Zhang.

In February this year, Tillerson had told members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during his confirmation hearing that he is committed to promoting dialogue on Tibet and receiving the Dalai Lama.

Top US Democrat Nancy Pelosi had visited the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala, India, in May, and sought to draw the world’s attention to human rights in Tibet, triggering protests by China.

China resorts to different tactics if any country hosts the Dalai Lama. For instance, Beijing blocked a major highway leading to Mongolia, crippling the economy there after Ulan Bator hosted the leader late last year.

Mongolia later apologised and promised Beijing never to invite the Dalai Lama.

“Officials, in their capacity as officials, attending all foreign-related activities represent their governments. So I hope governments around the world speak and act with caution and give full consideration to their friendship with China and their respect for China’s sovereignty,” Zhang added.

The comments from the Chinese Minister also comes days after Tillersoon described India as a partner in a strategic relationship and said the US would “never have the same relationship with China, a non-democratic society”.

According to reports, last month China refused to fund travel for visiting scholars at University of California, San Diego, apparently in retaliation for inviting the Dalai Lama to be its 2017 commencement speaker.

In April this year, China had reacted violently to a visit by the Dalai Lama to Tawang, in India’s northeast border state of Arunachal Pradesh, large parts of which is claimed by Beijing. (IANS)

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India Demands Data on UN Staff Misconduct, Use of Immunity

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India has demanded the secretariat disclose information about misconduct by UN staff. Flickr

United Nations, Oct 7: In an attempt to break the wall of silence around the crimes and UN staff misconduct and those on its assignments, India has demanded the secretariat disclose information about such cases and the immunity invoked against prosecutions.

Yedla Umasankar, the legal advisor in India’s UN Mission, touched a raw nerve here by criticising the UN on Friday for not vigorously following up allegations of serious wrongdoing by its employees who enjoy the equivalent of diplomatic immunity, a prized possession of its staff.

“It appears that the UN system itself may be reluctant to waive immunity even for serious misconduct carried out by its personnel while serving on its missions, so that such cases can be prosecuted by the host governments,” he told the General Assembly’s committee on legal affairs.

“Even a few of such instances or allegations of crimes committed by UN personnel is highly damaging for the image and credibility of the United Nations system and its work around the world,” he added.

His statement also touched on the practice of some countries that protect their wrongdoers at the UN.

Umasankar demanded that secretariat disclose how many cases of serious misconduct by UN personnel were registered and the number of cases where the UN refused to waive immunity to allow their prosecution.

He also wanted to know in how many cases the host country wanted the immunity waived so it can prosecute those accused; the number of times the UN asked the host country or the country that sent them to prosecute them; how many times it consulted countries before waiver of the immunity of their personnel and how many of them refused UN’s request to waive their citizens’ immunity.

The information he wanted does not cover the diplomats sent by member countries to represent them at UN bodies and enjoy diplomatic immunity with the nations hosting the UN facilities.

After scores of serious allegations of sexual misconduct by peacekeepers, especially exploitation of children, the UN vowed to uphold a policy of zero tolerance and began publishing data on such cases in peacekeeping operations including how they were dealt with.

Starting with the year 2015, it began identifying the nationalities of those accused.

However, it has not made public a roster detailing all the allegations and proven cases of serious misconduct across the entire UN.

While the focus has been on sexual exploitation and abuse reported on peacekeeping operations, Umasankar said that “at a broader level, the issue of accountability has remained elusive in some cases”.

He attributed it to “the complexities of legal aspects relating to sovereignty and jurisdiction”, the immunity or privileges that may be necessary for UN operations, and the capability or willingness of countries to investigate and prosecute the accused.

He noted that the UN itself cannot make criminal prosecutions.

While Indian laws has provisions for dealing with crimes committed abroad by its citizens, not all countries have them, he said.

Those countries should be encouraged and helped to implement such measures, he added. (IANS)