India takes new steps to kick old habits of burning farm waste

Source: The Hindu Businessline, 30 December 2021

Bio-enzyme developed by the Indian Agricultural Research Institute breaks down straw and turns it into fertiliser within three weeks

Sanju is on a mission. For weeks, she has travelled from village to village, urging farmers to stop burning stubble from harvested rice crops near New Delhi.

As winds slow during the winter months, a poisonous haze collects over northern India. During the worst stretches, air pollution can reach multiple times the global safety threshold. Stubble burning is one of the leading causes of the smog.

Sanju, who goes by one name, is among several hundred gig workers in the State of Haryana — all of them women — trying to reverse that trend. She encourages farmers to spray a white substance on their fields to decompose crop residue, rather than set it ablaze. Her work forms part of one of the most ambitious attempts to eliminate stubble burning in India.

“It’s a win-win situation for farmers,” said Dhruv Sawhney, Chief Operating Officer of, a digital platform promoting sustainable agriculture that is overseeing the project. In addition to hiring on-the-ground messengers like Sanju, his group provided the decomposer for free to 25,000 farmers this year.

Sawhney said the new organic spray, developed by State-run Indian Agricultural Research Institute, has helped prevent farmers from burning over 385,000 acres of rice paddies. The low-cost bio-enzyme, called Pusa Decomposer, breaks down straw and turns it into fertiliser.

Fertiliser shortage
Over the next three years, plans to expand its coverage area to 5.7 million acres at an annual cost of ₹6 billion ($80 million). Even if the company starts charging for the powder, many farmers say they would continue using it, in part because they end up saving on fertiliser costs. India is being squeezed by a global shortage of fertilisers.

“I don’t mind spending a nominal amount on this but it should be reasonable. Otherwise, I will again resort to my earlier practice of burning the crop,” said Anil Kalyan, who used the decomposer on 40 acres of his farm. This year marked the first time in four decades he has not burned the stubble.

The bio-enzyme breaks down crop residue in about three weeks on average and increases organic carbon in the soil. On some farms, crops disintegrated even faster, within about a week, an encouraging sign as more farmers use the decomposer, Sawhney said.

Deteriorating air quality
Farmers are often blamed for north India’s terrible air quality. Every winter, smoke from stubble burning mixes with construction dust and industrial emissions to produce a toxic cocktail that blots out the sun, grounds flights and overwhelms hospitals. The haze lingers in the region’s trough-like topography for weeks.

But political will to find a solution has dragged, largely because farmers lacked a cost-effective alternative. Technologies like the Happy Seeder, a machine that sows seeds while simultaneously removing straw and depositing it over the fields as mulch, are too cumbersome and expensive. There are also plants that use the straw to make ethanol, but there’s not enough capacity currently.

So far, farmers say, the decomposer is a promising breakthrough.

Satinder Sharma, who harvests wheat in Haryana, expects his yield to improve by 10 per cent this year. He spends less now on fertilisers such as urea and diammonium phosphate, a boost to his earnings. A bonus, he said, is doing his part to ensure clean air for the next generation.

The decomposer will “save the soil and plants next to the fields and the produce will be better for health,” he said. “It was a curse of nature to burn the crops and we were contributing to that.”

COP26 summit’s message to business: Clean up to cash in

Source: Economic Times, 15 November 2021

The Glasgow Climate Pact sent a clear message to global companies and executives: reassess business strategies and carbon footprints to reap monetary rewards, or lag and risk losses.

The deal pushes countries to do much more to curb climate-warming carbon emissions. That pressure will increasingly be imposed on investment and industry to bring emissions associated with their businesses in check. The Glasgow pact also delivered a breakthrough on rules for governing carbon markets, and took aim at fossil fuel subsidies.

The gathering brought in top CEOs, mayors, and leaders in industries, including finance, construction, vehicles and aviation, agriculture, renewable energy and infrastructure.

“COP26 has unleashed a wall of new private sector money,” said Gregory Barker, executive chairman at EN+ Group, by email. “For business everywhere, one thing is certain, big change is coming and coming fast.”

Two investment conferences on the side of the summit touted profits to be made for those who meet environmental conditions for the cash. Many deals were announced, including plans for a standards body to scrutinise corporate climate disclosures that will challenge boardrooms.

With the pact reaffirming a global commitment to containing global warming at 1.5 deg Celsius, boards can expect tougher national pollution policies across all sectors, particularly in transport, energy and farming.

That will leave the companies without a plan to adapt to a low-carbon economy looking exposed, UN High-level Climate Action Champion Nigel Topping said. Adding to the pressure, financial services companies with $130 trillion in assets have pledged to align their business with the net-zero goal. They will now lean on the boards of corporate climate laggards.

Tata Steel world’s first steel co to pledge pruning of sea trade emissions

Source: Business Standards, 12 October 2021

Tata Steel, the country’s oldest steel producer, has joined Sea Cargo Charter (SCC) as part of its sustainability objectives and initiatives on reduction of Scope 3 greenhouse gas emission in ocean trade.

The company is the 24th organisation to join the association working to reduce environmental impacts of global seaborne cargo and is the world’s first steel producer to become the signatory of SCC.

The Sea Cargo Charter (SCC) is a global framework for assessing and disclosing the climate alignment of chartering activities. Launched in October 2020, there are currently already 24 signatories as part of this organisation.

“With our seaborne global volume in excess of 40 million tonne per annum, this is a decisive step in the direction to measure correctly and mitigate efficiently and innovatively,” Peeyush Gupta, vice president, supply chain at Tata Steel was quoted as saying.

SCC establishes a common, global baseline to quantitatively assess and disclose whether chartering activities are in line with climate goals set by UN maritime agency, the International Maritime Organization (IMO).

As per carbon accounting standards, a company’s direct emissions are called Scope 1 emissions, while electricity usage is Scope 2 emissions and the Scope 3 emissions is value chain emissions which are the type of activities that are executed within a company’s supply chain from sourcing and shipping to delivering and disposal of goods.

Delhi Metro Rail Corporation earns Rs 19.5 crore from sale of 3.55 million carbon credits

Source: Financial Express, 27 September 2021

Delhi Metro has earned a noteworthy amount of Rs 19.5 crores from 3.55 million carbon credits’ sale, which it had collected from 2012 to 2018. Being a pioneer in the country in quantifying climate change benefits from its operations, the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) has a number of dedicated projects to its credit oriented towards energy efficiency. In the year 2007, DMRC became the world’s first Metro network to be registered by the UN under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), which allowed the Delhi Metro rail network to claim carbon credits for its Regenerative Braking Project.

According to DMRC, the CDM is a project-based Green House Gas offset mechanism, allowing the public and private sector in high-income nations the opportunity to purchase carbon credits from projects reducing greenhouse gas emissions in low-income or middle-income countries as part of their efforts to meet global emissions targets under the Kyoto protocol. Clean Development Mechanism projects generate emissions credits known as Certified Emission Reductions (CERs), which are then purchased and traded. One CER is equivalent to one ton of Carbon dioxide (eq) emission reduced. Delhi Metro’s first CDM project was based on regenerative braking technology. Till 2012, carbon credits generated from this project were sold for an amount of Rs 9.55 crore.

The second CDM project is based on Modal Shift’s principle. Under this project, the carbon footprint of people travelling by metro system is much lesser than that of the same journeys performed by other transport modes. So far, the Delhi Metro rail network has registered four projects viz MRTS PoA project, Regenerative Braking project, Modal Shift project, and Solar project with UNFCCC, all of which are the first of their kind in the world. Apart from this, in the year 2014, the Delhi Metro rail network also became the world’s first ever metro system to be registered with the prestigious ‘Gold Standard Foundation’, Switzerland. Till now, Delhi Metro has registered four projects with the Gold Standard Foundation.

Since the year 2015, DMRC has also been offering CDM consultancy services to other Metro networks in India, allowing them to earn carbon credits from their project. Already other metro networks like Mumbai Metro, Chennai Metro, Gujarat Metro, etc., have registered their projects under the DMRC’s Program of Activities project allowing them to earn carbon credits as well as contribute to India’s Intended Nationally Determined Contribution in compliance with the Paris Agreement.

India committed to clean energy-based economy, says Nitin Gadkari

Source: Business Standards, 22 September 2021

Union Minister Nitin Gadkari on Wednesday said India is committed to an eminently achievable clean energy-based economy, and added that the country will soon have a policy for flex-fuel engines.

The road transport and highways minister further said India is shifting its public transport fleet to green fuels like bio-CNG, ethanol, methanol, electricity and green hydrogen, which will also provide citizens some respite from surging petrol prices.

“India is committed to an eminently achievable clean energy-based economy, through an annual road-map for production, supply of ethanol till 2025-26, and systems for its countrywide marketing,” he said while addressing a virtual event of industry body CII.

Gadkari said his ministry is in talks with automakers for flex-fuel engines and for using biodiesel and LNG in the construction equipment industry.

“We will soon announce a policy for flex-fuel engines. This policy will encourage automobile manufacturers to produce such engines,” he said.

The minister pointed out that India is one of the fastest-growing economies leading through sustainable and climate-neutral development.

While the government is focusing to create an investor-friendly ecosystem to promote domestic manufacturing, “parallelly we are also giving importance to infrastructure development,” he said.

As expected, India is gaining good momentum in the electric vehicle (EV) ecosystem, he noted.

“There is a good response for battery operated small electric vehicles like e-scooter, electric three-wheelers, e-rickshaws, e-carts, and e-bikes in the country,” he said.

The minister added the road ministry is also planning to run a railway, metro, and long-run intercity buses on green hydrogen.

“Both battery electric vehicle and fuel cell vehicle technologies are complementary to each other and are all set to overtake fossil-run automotive by 2050 in the country,” the minister said.

UK to invest $1.2 bn in govt and private green energy projects in India

Source: Business Standards, 03 September 2021

The UK government announced on Thursday, a $1.2 billion package for public and private investment in green projects and renewable energy in India. The announcement was made by UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak and union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman at the 11th Economic and Financial Dialogue (EFD) between the two countries.

They also launched a Climate Finance Leadership Initiative (CFLI) India partnership, which aims to mobilise private capital into sustainable infrastructure in India. These investments will support India’s target of 450 Gw renewable energy by 2030, the British High Commission (BHC) said in a public statement.

Under CFLI, a group of leading financial instruments would mobilise private capital into sustainable infrastructure in India, including clean energy like wind and solar power and other green technologies. It will be chaired by Michael Bloomberg, UN Special Envoy on Climate Ambition and Solutions.

“At today’s EFD, the Chancellor and the Finance Minister also agreed to be ambitious when considering services in the upcoming UK-India trade negotiations, which could open up new opportunities for UK financial firms and help more Indian companies to access finance in the City of London,” said the statement.

The billion-dollar package includes a $1 billion investment from CDC, the UK’s development finance institution in green projects in India between 2022-2026. CDC already has a $1.99 billion existing portfolio of private sector investments in India.

The partnership also entails setting up a joint fund by the UK and India to invest in companies offering innovative green tech solutions. A new $200 million private and multilateral investment would be done into the joint UK-India Green Growth Equity Fund which invests in Indian renewable energy, said the statement.

UK is hosting the global climate conference COP26 in Glasgow later this year. Rishi Sunak,UK Chancellor of the Exchequr said, “Supporting India’s green growth is a shared priority. With trade negotiations also coming up, our agreement to be ambitious when considering services will create new opportunities in both markets, supporting jobs and investment in the UK and India.”

UK’s Infrastructure Projects Authority would also support the recently launched National Infrastructure Pipeline by the Indian government.

The EFD was held virtually on Thursday. The Indian delegation was led by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and included RBI Governor Das, and SEBI Chairman Ajay Tyagi. The UK delegation was led by Chancellor Rishi Sunak and included Bank of England Governor Bailey, and Financial Conduct Authority CEO Nikhil Rathi.

India on track to meet Paris Agreement goals, says FM Sitharaman

Source: Business Standards, 19 August 2021

India is among a few Group of Twenty (G20) countries on track towards United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and Paris Agreement goals and has taken decisive actions to tackle climate change, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Wednesday.

The minister, in a meeting with Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) president-designate Alok Sharma, said the government is taking concrete steps and at appreciable speed to meet its commitments on the target of 450 gigawatt (Gw) of renewable energy by 2030.

She also said 100 Gw of this renewable energy had already been achieved.

Among other important initiatives, she mentioned the extensive work done on the Hydrogen Energy Mission.

Sharma became the second international leader, after US climate change envoy John Kerry, to laud India’s climate change commitments, including the progressive shift from coal to renewable energy.

“I met Prime Minister Modi the last time I was here and we discussed a range of issues from biodiversity to nature. He (Modi) cares deeply about climate change issues,” said Sharma, speaking to a small group of reporters at the end of his visit to New Delhi.

The British-Indian climate minister is leading preparations for the COP26 to be held in Glasgow in November, this year.

During this visit, he met Environment Minister Bhupender Yadav, Power Minister R K Singh, and Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal.

“I have visited most countries around the world, but India is the only country I have visited twice: simply because it is an incredibly important business economy,” he said.

Sharma conceded that the $100-billion mitigation fund for developed countries, promised in 2009 and yet to materialise, was a matter of concern. “I went to Germany and raised this matter in Berlin, as well as in Canada. This (fund) is a matter of trust,” he said.

Sharma especially emphasised the importance of private finance in developing technologies to mitigate the effects of climate change. The UK, he said, was the world’s biggest offshore wind power generator in the world. It had done so by auctioning wind power to the private sector.

“Every country has different strategies with a different energy mix. India is in the process of retiring coal, and the unit prices of renewables are coming down significantly,” he said.

The UK and India are already collaborating on developing technologies for renewable storage.

Sharma hoped the Glasgow meeting would lead to a consensus on limiting the temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius. However, this is only possible if India commits to a net-zero target by 2050.

“We have no time to waste. The recent IPCC report represents a flashing red on the climate emergency dashboard. But, the report also said that the door is still open on keeping global temperature rises to 1.5 degrees, but we need to act now. Minister Bhupender Yadav and I reviewed the issues that were raised at the July ministerial meeting and we agreed to continue to cooperate very closely together to ensure COP26 keeps 1.5 degrees Celsius within reach,” said Sharma.

But earlier this year, at the IEA-COP26 Net Zero Summit in March, Power Minister R K Singh described net-zero targets as a “pie in the sky”, questioning the actual levels of activity under way to achieve this.

At a recent climate change meeting of the G20 countries in Naples, India refused to endorse the communiqué issued after the meeting, recording its dissent in a footnote. The minister did not attend a subsequent meeting in London, but Sharma said the presence of the chief negotiator added to the “spirit of cooperation”.

There is international pressure on India – the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world – as developed nations set greater ambitious targets. The Biden administration has announced it will reduce emissions by 50-52 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030. This was followed by a raft of enhanced 2030-35 targets from the European Union, the UK, and Japan. With each more ambitious emissions reduction proposal, pressure ratchets up on those countries yet to announce targets, including India.

But soon after these announcements, former Union environment minister Prakash Javadekar pointed out that the country’s per capita carbon emissions remain among the lowest globally. India’s position is that on an emission-intensity basis – specifically emission reductions based on gross domestic product per capita – it is the only major economy on track to meet or even exceed the Paris targets. This is partly due to its rapid expansion of renewable power.

Besides, India’s concerns are different: employment, health care, and the expansion of basic services, such as electricity.

For Britain, a successful outcome of the COP26 will be a test of its diplomacy. India is a key element in realising that goal.

Sharma underlined this when he said: “When the UK took on the COP26 Presidency, less than 30 per cent of the global economy was covered by a net-zero target – we’re now at 70 per cent and will continue asking all countries to come forward. I’m encouraged by the progress that we’re making and I’m looking forward to working closely with India and other partners to achieve success at COP26.”

Tata Motors to introduce 10 all-electric vehicles by 2025: N Chandrasekaran

Source: Economic Times, 28 June 2021

Having charted out a clear roadmap for Jaguar Land Rover towards future electrification, Tata Motors will now be bringing 10 new battery-electric vehicles by 2025 for the standalone entity.

In his address to the shareholders in the 76th Annual Report, N Chandrasekaran, chairman of Tata Motors, said, “By 2025, Tata Motors will have 10 new BEV vehicles, and as a Group, we will invest proactively to set up charging infrastructure across the country. In addition, the Tata Group is actively exploring partnerships in cell and battery manufacturing in India and Europe to secure our supplies of batteries.”

Led by sales of 4000 Tata Nexon electric vehicles, the EV penetration in the company’s portfolio has now doubled to 2% in FY-21, and it expects penetration to increase exponentially in the coming years.

“Tata Motors will lead this change in the Indian market. Your company will be the torch-bearer for green mobility in the automotive world and create a virtuous cycle of growth and returns for our shareholders too. We are clear that this shift to sustainable mobility is an idea whose time has come, and the Tata Group will move forward with speed and scale to seize this and proactively drive the change in consumer behaviour in India and beyond,” added Chandrasekaran.

To address the other future disruptions of autonomous, connected and shared mobility, Tata Motors is also evaluating an automotive software and engineering vertical within the Group that will help us lead in a new world of connected and autonomous vehicles, informed the chairman.

To be sure, Tata Motors Group is in the process of pivoting its underlying business model towards sustainable mobility. Jaguar Land Rover is targeting 100% zero tailpipe emissions for the portfolio it sells by 2036. Jaguar will become fully electric by 2025. 60% of Jaguar Land Rover’s volumes will be pure BEV vehicles by 2030.

Globally, greater emphasis and scrutiny will be placed on building environmental sustainability and climate resilience into the very core of business models and to address and leverage these megatrends, and Tata Motors plan to make sustainable business models” a bedrock; of its strategy.”

“At the Tata Group, we would like to be amongst the world leaders on sustainability. As a large and diverse conglomerate based in India but with a global footprint, we are uniquely positioned for this leadership. Our companies are present in 150 countries. We employ over 750,000 people and touch the lives of 650 million consumers,” said Chandrasekaran.

The company expects the demand to remain strong on the outlook going ahead, with consumer preferences shifting further towards personal mobility. However, the supply situation is expected to be adversely impacted for the next few months due to disruptions from COVID-19 lockdowns in India and semiconductor shortages worldwide. Due to this, Chandrasekaran anticipates “a gradual improvement” in performance during the year.

He underlined that the business has demonstrated resilience in the face of adversity last year and has strengthened its fundamentals. This track record gives him the confidence that the business will continue to build on its turnaround last year and deliver an even stronger performance in the coming years.

Chandrasekaran felt the urge to break free and have the freedom to move without fear or restrictions would shape future demand for passenger vehicles.

Through the Looking Glass: Attracting large pools of capital for green transition

Source: Financial Express, 17 June 2021

Large funding requirements in India require support from policymakers to crowd-in private investment from other countries, companies and carbon markets

India is a signatory of and strong advocate for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and the only large country on track for emissions reduction as agreed under the Paris convention. These transitions are expected to be net positive for the economy from cleaning up emissions, creating new jobs, and fostering economic growth. The International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates that India will need to invest $1.4 trillion over the next 20 years in the process.

Transition to clean energy will require financing to meet these large investment needs. Such investments include technologies that may be (1) nascent and hence susceptible to failure even after deployment of significant capital, (2) expensive and hence unaffordable by citizens and consumers of some countries, or (3) simply too novel or patent-protected for seamless transfer between various nations. Green financing requires finding the right capital willing to take risks of failure, or willing to underwrite relatively lower returns, or bundle technology together with financing.

We look at the three Cs of green financing.


Countries are committing to net zero targets over the next 3-4 decades. As we head into the 26th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 26) later this year, pressure on such commitments by countries will increase. These thoughts have echoed on global negotiating table for years, especially at Cancun COP in 2010 where the communiqué said: “[I]ndustrialized countries committed to provide funds rising to USD 100 billion per year by 2020 to support concrete mitigation actions by developing countries that are implemented in a transparent way. These funds would be raised from a mix of public and private sources.”

The Green Climate Fund (GCF) was hence created. Per its 2020 annual report, the stock inflow pledged (over the years of its operations till date) is about $10 billion and the projects financed are about $7.5 billion. This is possibly a slower start than expected in Cancun. The recent change in political priorities towards climate change around the world means that funds like the GCF could see renewed large inflows. Such funds can become appropriate conduit for financing high-risk or long-gestation technologies in developing countries.

Similarly, the Global Environment Facility (GEF), set up by 40 donor countries, including the US, the UK, Germany, France and Australia, has so far funded 78 projects worth $570 million in grants and $4.8 billion through co-financing in India.


Large fossil fuel companies have been in the news lately due to shareholder votes on climate change or court rulings directing them to be aggressive in reducing their carbon footprint. Globally, regulations on emissions are becoming tighter. Surveys show that the young, millennial consumer is more willing to back products of companies that are environmentally conscious. With such social, political and financial tailwinds, companies are naturally gravitating to Green Frontier technologies.

This presents a fork-in-the-road for companies in fossil fuel industry. They have investments that continue to generate free cash flows which cannot be deployed back into the same industry. They can either return cash to shareholders or invest in new green technologies or companies. For companies wanting to head down to net zero, returning cash to shareholders is not a material option—their products and processes will continue to spew out emissions and hence going to net zero requires investment in technologies that reduce carbon from the atmosphere. Companies like the Dutch Ørsted are transitioning from an oil company to an offshore wind company with shareholders accepting lower returns.

Such companies, egged on by regulations and investors, can offer both venture capital for new technologies and muscle power for deploying technology quickly across the globe. An example of this is the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative’s $1-billion-plus climate investments fund with a portfolio of 19 investments across low-carbon technologies. The fund is supported by some of the largest oil and gas companies including Aramco, BP, Chevron, Exxon and Shell.

Carbon markets

As countries move towards net zero, they will hit binding constraints on the carbon that companies (or consumers) in such countries can emit. To keep commitments, countries will need to move to some version of cap-and-trade systems: certain units of emissions will be available within the country and if companies need to exceed that, they will need to buy ‘carbon credits’ from firms within or outside. This system has been working, especially in Europe, where prices have reached 50 euros per tonne of carbon.

To put this number in perspective, the total carbon-equivalent emissions in the world are about 50 billion tonnes a year. If each unit of carbon emission were to be valued at current prices, this amounts to $2.5 trillion a year. We do not set much store with this number as it is volatile and subject to many adjustments—the idea is to get a sense of magnitude here. As emission quotas come down, prices can rise further even as emissions come down. Such carbon markets can create significant resources for transfer between countries—making many projects viable in developing countries. Global agreements like the Kyoto Protocol need to be put in place to get this market moving.

The role of policy

Large funding requirements in India require support from policymakers to crowd-in private investment from all the above three sources. Policy innovation is required in (1) identifying technologies that work for India and nurturing these into viable businesses, (2) executing fair and just transition plans for impacted people and industries, and (3) enabling new instruments and sources of capital from the 3Cs above for financing to flow more efficiently.

As India moves to its aim of a cleaner, greener $5-trillion economy, a roadmap for attracting green finance needs to be put in place.

E-commerce firms to deduct 1% tax at source from 1 October

Source:, Sept 20, 2018

New Delhi: E-commerce companies will have to deduct 1% tax collected at source (TCS) before making payments to their suppliers from 1 October. The Finance Ministry on Thursday notified TCS at the rate of 0.50% of the net value of intra-state sale of goods made by traders through e-commerce portals. States too are expected to notify levying 0.50% state GST (SGST) on intra-state supplies.

The central government had last week notified 1 October as the date for implementing the TCS provision in the new indirect tax regime. The law provided for levy of up to 1% TCS. EY Tax Partner Abhishek Jain said, “As the law had provided a levy up to 1%, the e-commerce industry was awaiting this release of the exact rate of TCS –essentially to configure it into their system.”

The provisions for tax collected or deducted at source was kept in abeyance in the GST regime so far in order to give relief to businesses. Enforcing the provision is expected to improve tax compliance.