From Tianjin to cancun: failure of climate change conference but grassroots innovators can still help

From Tianjin to cancun: failure of climate change conference but innovators can still help

On Saturday,  the host country China expressed disappointment with the attitude of the developed nations who seemed to be backtracking on the commitments made in Kyoto Protocol. Some estimates showed that global carbon dioxide emissions might surpass the targeted limit of 40 billion tonnes by 2020 by at least ten to twenty per cent. What can a citizen do, under such depressing conditions, where is the hope? Why should finding solutions become so difficult?

Last year, when stimulus funds of billion of dollars were being provided by various developed countries to save hardly ten thousand jobs and a few companies for  banks, I had suggested that if just the ten percent of these funds were invested  in clean tech ideas around the world, we will would generate millions of jobs in a poly centric, distributed and dispersed small enterprises. Then  the Tianjin conference on climate change would not have ended yesterday on such a disappointing note.

But given the inertia among developed countries, about innovative ideas, have the governments in developing countries shown any great alacrity in running with such options. The answer is mixed. One of the grassroots innovators,  Raj singh Dahiya  from Rajasthan, was awarded by  The honorable President Pratibha Patil  at fifth biennial award function last year organized by National Innovation Foundation. He has developed a biomass gassifier which was on testing, found to be more efficient than any other model available currently in the country. The cost is about 25-30 thousand rupees per KW. NIF has also extended a MVIF investment to convert his innovation into a viable enterprise. Government of India did extend a subsidy to promote this innovation. But a large number of other similarly attractive innovations remain as yet supported by similar nurturant policy.  Birendra Kumar Sinha, Champaran has developed a pollution control device which captures about one kg of carbon per month from a diesel engine of generator of 10-12hp. Small windmill costing about 60 thousand rupees to produce one KW power or pump brine solution to make salt has not yet received any subsidy support. But it has been encouraged by Gujarat government for deployment among salt workers to reduce noise and carbon pollution. Compressed air driven car by Kanak Gogoi in Gawhati and a scooter by harinarayan prajapati are still awaiting policy and institutional support. We have at least seven such technologies using compressed air for pumping water, or working in other devices.

There is a three tier energy harnessing system developed by Jyoti in arku valley, in Andhra Pradesh published in Honey Bee newsletter last issue.  We all have a cooking gas in our kitchen but how many of us realize that flue gasses around the utensils in which cooking is done, goes waste, there is no shelf above the coking stove on which left over vegetables or other things can be dried.  Jyoti had dried paddy panicles, because the  rate at which husk and the grain expand is different, the thrashing took less energy and time. So many more clean technologies need to be appreciated, supported, diffused, tested and valorized with a sense of urgency. When we conserve energy, we become more efficient but also more frugal,  and more empathetic towards other sentient beings and nature. Let us hope that while global talks may not deliver much results yet, local actions will.    

Anil K Gupta