New Innovations and Applications

Climate Resilient infrastructure is the answer to Rapid Urbanisation

India’s urban areas and cities are rapidly expanding. The World Bank suggests that India’s urban population grows at a rate of two per cent annually, and by 2030, more than 60 crore people in India will be residing in urban areas.

This is encouraging from the perspective of economic growth, however, we need to keep in mind the environmental challenges that will emerge from rapid urbanisation. Further, climate change appears to be an emerging threat to global ecosystems and has escalated the challenges in planning cities and urban areas of the future. The growth in the urban population also implies increased reliance on water resources, transportation and electricity. Another challenge is the lack of proper housing settlements for the poor residents of the city, who are forced to live in slums due to rising housing prices. Air and water pollution can be expected to increase if cities grow in an unplanned manner. To address these issues, climate-resilient infrastructure and the use of renewable energy prove to be effective ways forward.

Environmental Impact Assessment

Environmental Impact Assessment known as EIA is a scientific and legal process to evaluate the environmental impacts after the successful implementation of any proposed infrastructure project. Ministry of Environmental, Forests and Climate Change had proposed changes in EIA laws in 2020 which replaces several significant elements of the EIA from 2006.

EIA makes it necessary for projects, which have a high chance of degrading the environment such as mining, power plants, highways, and industries, to get environmental clearance by the state.

In India, EIA is backed by the Environmental Protection Act, 1986 which directs on EIA’s methodology. The new 2020 legal draft allows clearances of projects without thorough follow up and has diluted scientific enquiry after the project is completed.

Do solutions lie in a Circular Economy?
What exactly is a Circular Economy?

To know this first we have to understand the concept of ‘Linear Economy’. Think of the linear economy as a process wherein the first step is to buy raw materials for commodity production, the next step is to produce the commodity, and then to sell the final products into the markets.

Generally, the buyers of these products throw them after single use which leads to waste products in the environment. Though capable of being reused and recycled, these items are thrown away which only increases waste that cannot be recycled anymore. This type of economy in which items are thrown in the trash without being recycled is known as Linear Economy.

According to Environmentalists, a Circular Economy is the opposite of a Linear Economy which gives the unique solution of increasing resource efficiency. In a Circular Economy, the products that can be used again are reused instead of being thrown. This methodology ensures economically viable, less carbon producing waste management.

Do Electric Vehicles really provide a solution?

Electric Vehicles or EVs run on rechargeable electric batteries and use an electric motor instead of a conventional combustion engine. These vehicles can be charged anywhere with a stable electricity supply.

The last ten years have seen a big jump in the popularity and demand for electric vehicles due to technological advancements and climate change. Using hybrid and electric vehicles can help reduce a large amount of carbon footprint when adopted by the masses. When in use, EVs do not emit any greenhouse or any kind of pollutant but it is only one side of the story.

There is a lot of indirect pollution associated with Evs though. They do not emit any pollution from the tailpipe, however, the batteries intact in the vehicles can still release toxic fumes. In addition, most of the electricity supplied for EVs is generated through non-renewable resources or fossil fuels that emit tons of carbon. In a country like ours, where majority of its electric supply is generated from coal thermal power plants, finding a better and cleaner way to generate electric power is essential before jumping to any conclusion about EVs.