Much at stake for tech sector in UID project
Pranav Nambiar, TNN | Dec 12, 2011, 08.04AM IST TOI
BANGALORE: Two important issues: ABSOLUTELY IMPORTANT FOR GS BOTH PRELIMS AND MAINS are discussed in this issue. You must study in topics UID Project Aadhar and Climate Change thoroughly.
China, India, U.S. Take Steps Toward Emissions Deal
By PATRICK MCGROARTY TOI 12 Dec 11
DURBAN, South Africa
Climate Change is a must for Environmental studies. Detailed materials have been sent to r. Vinay for onward transmission. If not received copy when you come there.
12 thoughts on “47. Current Affairs 2012 December Second Week Unit One”
With the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance raising a red flag against the National Identification Authority of India (NIAI) Bill to grant the UID (or Aadhar) project legal status, the project looks set for a slowdown . That could have broad implications for the tech sector that had laid substantial hope on it, especially when global markets are slowing down.
The UID project is estimated to offer IT companies a Rs 15,000-Rs 20,000-crore opportunity . This includes building an ecosystem around the project, comprising biometrics, databases , smartcards, storage and system integration. Since the UIDAI implements an open-system , plug and-play approach, entrepreneurs and startups can develop applications in numerous areas . Some of the applications of Aadhar is seen in areas such as food distribution, financial inclusion , and know-your-customer services.
The parliamentary committee has said that the project might be too expensive and duplicates the National Population Register’s (NPR) efforts to collect biometric and other data for the national census. Some have also called for a change of collection of data from biometric data, which they consider insecure for smart cards (as fraudsters can take your fingerprints from objects that you touch). The Cabinet need not accept the committee’s recommendations. Thus it is unclear if the UID project will be scrapped, watered down or persisted with in its current form. Some contracts have been granted to tech majors. According to the said current contracts are not significantly large in size and their cancellation will not make a big dent in the companies’ books. He added that scrapping of project from a longer term perspective could be a negative. Government public services initiatives like public distribution system UIDAI website, Wipro in March 2011 won a contract to supply, install, and commission hardware and software for data centres at Bangalore and NCR. MindTree in April 2010 won a contract for application software development , maintenance and support. TCS, Accenture , HP, Satyam , Intelenet Global, HCL Infosystems , Geodesic are some others that have won contracts .
Major industrial and emerging economies set a course to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions over the next decade and beyond, breaking a logjam between China, India and the U.S. that has stymied international climate talks.
Following negotiations that stretched past dawn on Sunday, two days after the two-week United Nations-sponsored meeting was scheduled to end, delegates from almost 200 countries agreed to draft a new global emissions treaty by 2015.
Under the agreement, most industrial nations currently bound to reduce emissions under the so-called Kyoto Protocol will extend their commitments beyond their current expiration in 2012. Many are European Union members already bound by EU law to make cuts that will satisfy the Kyoto requirements.
Even though Russia, Canada and Japan earlier vowed not recommit to Kyoto, they signed onto the new agreement that will take effect later.
China, the U.S. and India—which rank as the three largest emitters of greenhouse gases, none of which are covered by Kyoto—pledged to join the pact that would take effect in 2020.
But environmentalists and representatives from smaller countries were underwhelmed by the deal, saying the urgency of the problem of climate change demanded a shorter time line for action. These people also said the deal could be easily ignored by major economies responsible for mass emissions.
“This is a very bad agreement,” said Venezuela’s chief negotiator, Claudia Salerno, who urged fellow negotiators to push for a more robust deal when they meet again.
When the Kyoto treaty was drafted in 1997 to reduce emissions in the industrial world, China and India weren’t required to participate because they weren’t yet considered major industrial nations. The U.S. helped design the agreement, but Congress failed to ratify it precisely because those major developing countries didn’t have to check their emissions as well.
After nearly 20 consecutive hours of negotiations, China and India nearly derailed the new 2020 pact early Sunday by refusing to accept a strict “legal instrument,” to police emissions cuts. Instead, the version of the agreement that emerged contained the phrase “legal force”—a broader term that is seen as offering governments more leeway to identify how to curb emissions.
Separately, envoys agreed to establish a fund to guide the flow of much of what they hoped would be $100 billion in annual pledges by 2020 to mitigate the impact of climate change in poor countries.
Delegates will spend the next four years hammering out the specifics of their 2020 deal, with chief negotiators meeting next year in Qatar.
The pact creates a sliver of common ground among different nations committed to checking climate change. But taken together, the two weeks of meetings in Durban highlighted the monumental challenge of any future treaty passing political muster at home.
China and India have long argued it would be unfair to curb rapid development that is helping eradicate poverty for the sake of offsetting emissions that rich nations produced over decades without consequence.
“I’m wondering if there is an effort here to shift the burden of this entire climate-change problem on countries who have not contributed to this entire issue,” India’s environment minister, Jayanthi Natarajan, said in an impassioned statement to the entire conference, as she rejected an unqualified binding deal. “Please don’t hold us hostage.”
Two years ago, talks in Copenhagen also broke down when China refused to accept a legally binding deal delegates had hoped to have in place by 2013, after the Kyoto Protocol was set to expire. The EU revived the quest for a legally binding deal by pushing the target date back to 2020.
The chief U.S. negotiator, Todd Stern, interpreted the agreement as a strong collective obligation to cut emissions. As long as India and China sign up for emissions cuts that are “symmetrical” to those pledged by the U.S., Mr. Stern said he believed the final treaty stood a chance of passing in a Congress that has rejected climate legislation in the past.
“If the agreement has those elements then we could get into the category of the just very hard rather than the impossible,” Mr. Stern said.
Though they didn’t block its passage, many smaller nations were disappointed by a deal they say won’t shield them from the worst potential impacts of climate change.
Nations set a new timeline for an international emissions treaty
2012: Climate negotiators meet in Qatar to start drafting new treaty.
2013: Remaining Kyoto Protocol countries start a second commitment period.
2015: A new international emissions pact should be finished.
2020: The new emissions pact would take effect.
Source: WSJ research
The new pact aims to cut global emissions across the board, not just curb the rate at which they are rising, as nations such as China have already pledged to do. But the benchmark to which nations will be held is open to negotiation, pending U.N.-led scientific reviews of global temperature data and current emissions policies over the next few years.
Small countries say drastic action is necessary sooner than 2020 to keep emissions low enough to prevent temperatures from rising more than an average of 2 degrees Celsius, or about 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, above pre levels.
That is the threshold above which scientists say the impact of climate change will become much more pronounced.
Negotiators may have succeeded politically, but they failed to name concrete emissions targets or implementation dates necessary to forestall dangerous temperature rises, said Tasneem Essop, head of climate advocacy for the World Wildlife Fund, an environmental group.
“We know what the science is telling us,” Mr. Essop said. “What has come out of this process is nothing of the sort, no substantive agreement on how we’ll be dealing with climate change in terms of action.”
He added, “In terms of ambition this is a weak outcome.”
But many saw the pact as the best compromise possible. Even vaguely defined “legal force” commits China and India to emissions cuts, according to Luiz Alberto Figueiredo of Brazil. “It’s legally binding and indeed it’s very strong,” he said.
Ahead of the United Nations-led meeting in this tropical port city, EU officials said they would extend their Kyoto commitments only if a broader binding deal was on track.
After nearly a week of exhausting negotiations in Durban, the EU accepted the broader wording that India and China demanded. “We wanted more ambition—the EU strategy worked,” said Connie Hedegaard, the EU’s climate commissioner.
We must see the above framework as an attempt to again slowdown the debate and a strategy to buy more time. it must be noted that the world is still in a fossil fuel based economy and there has been not alternative that has been found to replace the fuel that drives world’s economics. western nations burnt coal, oil and grew their economies….why is India being asked to cut down on her consumption with this holier than thou attitude?….India in no way can have a binding agreement on her emissions since her poor is dependent on kerosene and coal. Her thermal power stations cannot be held hostage as there will be significant drop in power output which in itself will hurt industries. Thereby, until and unless there is paradigm shift on fuel and energy infrastructure and technology . India cannot sign a binding protocol as it will lead to her saying bye to an 8% growth.
I agree that India is not yet in a state to accept or implement such a legal force. And before it comes down as a binding on us, we must be prepared.
If I may, I would like to share one of my recent experience.
I visited the ‘Rann of Kutch’ area, Gujarat last week and was really overwhelmed by the sustainable development initiatives taken in the State.
Plants are set-up to hone power from scorching sun and almighty coastal wind-blows.
-Suzlon has developed a windfarm in the area, which is called largest such venture across Asia.
-India’s (to date) biggest power project plant is under installation – a ‘Solar Power Project’.
-incentives are being offered by new Solar Power Policy by the State Govt to the companies which set up solar power plants.
Such initiatives should be taken in other states as well.