Celebrated every 10 November, World Science Day for Peace and Development highlights the significant role of science in society and the need to engage the wider public in debates on emerging scientific issues. It also underlines the importance and relevance of science in our daily lives.
By linking science more closely with society, World Science Day for Peace and Development aims to ensure that citizens are kept informed of developments in science. It also underscores the role scientists play in broadening our understanding of the remarkable, fragile planet we call home and in making our societies more sustainable.
What is World Science Day about?
The purpose of the Day is to:
– Strengthen public awareness of the role of science for peaceful and sustainable societies;
– Promote national and international solidarity for shared science between countries;
– Renew national and international commitment for the use of science for the benefit of societies;
– Draw attention to the challenges faced by science in raising support for the scientific endeavour.
– An opportunity to mobilize all actors around the topic of science for peace and development – from government officials to the media to school pupils.
Theme for World Science Day 2021?
The year 2021 marks 20th edition of World Science Day for Peace and Development. With climate change becoming a serious threat to the lives of billions of people and the planet, this year’s celebration will highlight the importance of ‘Building Climate-Ready Communities’. The objective is to bring science closer to society by highlighting some key scientific aspects and possible solutions provided by science, technology and innovation to some of the major global challenges society is facing today.
Are communities in India climate-ready?
One of the most important issues for the country’s sustainable development is the effect of climate change on economic activity. India remains primarily an agricultural economy. Extreme weather and climatic events, such as drought and torrential rain, have caused enormous material damage to the economy over the past five years or so. India’s commitment to reducing its dependence on fossil fuels has two broad components: promoting green energy and hastening the diffusion of electric vehicles.
Push for technology in renewable energy
India’s high reliance on new technologies has been accompanied by some recognition of the accompanying resource consumption and socio-environmental cost. As part of its Paris Agreement commitments, the government set an ambitious target of achieving 175 gigawatts of green energy capacity by 2022, increasing the current installed capacity 2.5-fold. Green energy sources are expected to meet 40% of India’s electricity needs by 2030.
For three consecutive years, investment in renewable sources has exceeded that in fossil fuels. The Union Budget for 2019–2020 allocated US$ 728.32 million to the green energy sector. With the adoption of the National Electricity Plan in 2018, India’s efforts are considered 2°C compatible but insufficient to meet the Paris Agreement target of 1.5°C. India’s carbon emissions rose by 4.8% in 2018, largely driven by emissions from coal power plants. The main challenge will be to abandon further investment in such plants. The National Electricity Plan foresees adding 46 GW of coal-fired capacity by 2027, even though plans to build nearly 14 GW of coal-fired power plants across India were cancelled in May 2017 after being deemed uneconomical.
The total installed capacity in green energy sources (wind, solar, biofuels and small hydro-electricity generators) in 2018 was about 72.6 GW, with wind energy accounting for an estimated 48% of the installed capacity, followed by solar energy at 34%. As a share of total installed capacity for electricity generation, green energy sources rose from 13% in 2015 to 22% in 2018. However, both total consumption and consumption per capita have also increased each year since 2015. Although most Indian states now have explicit policies for the installation, generation and use of green energy, only a handful have achieved substantial progress in reaching their renewable energy targets, beginning with the southern states of Karnataka and Telangana.
In 2018, the government allocated 1 billion rupees to 60 cities across the country to develop projects for a combined 8.1 MW of solar panels and to install solar water heating systems covering 7 894 m2 of collector area. The city of Chandigarh has made it mandatory to install solar water heating systems in public and industrial buildings, as well as in any new residential units. The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation, meanwhile, is gradually equipping its trains with solar photovoltaic systems.
Govt policies for electric mobility
Nearly 80% of all vehicles sold in India are two- and three-wheelers. The government has been considering a ban on all internal combustion engine-driven two-wheelers under 150 cc by 2025 and three-wheelers by 2023. The National Electric Mobility Mission Plan 2020 has sought to populate India with a fleet of 6–7 million electric and hybrid vehicles by 2020.
However, the electric vehicle industry in India is still at a nascent stage. According to the Society of Manufacturers of Electric Vehicles, 2.18 million such vehicles were sold in 2018, just 1% of total vehicle sales. At present, there are more than 400 000 electric two-wheelers and a few thousand electric cars on Indian roads. Over 95% of electric vehicles are low-speed electric scooters that do not require registration or a license. To date, the volume of electric vehicles on the roads has fluctuated, depending on the government incentives of the moment. The government has introduced increasingly generous price subsidies, through the Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and Electric Vehicles (FAME) scheme, which was launched in 2015 and moved into its second phase in 2019.
Through FAME II, the government is offering people incentives to purchase certain types of electric and hybrid vehicles between 2019 and 2022, combined with a reduction from 12% to 4% in the goods and services tax on electric vehicles. The Union Budget for 2019 provides an additional income tax deduction of Rs. 1.5 lakh on the interest paid on loans taken out to purchase electric vehicles which works out to a saving of about Rs. 2.5 lakh over the loan period.
Apart from price, there are two main technological barriers to faster adoption of electric vehicles: the relative scarcity of both lithium-ion batteries and charging stations spaced at reasonable intervals. The Union Budget for 2019 addressed the domestic manufacturing of lithium storage through investment-linked exemptions from income tax; in the past, such incentive-induced promotion had not managed to generate the required investment. In parallel, the Ministry of Power delicensed Public Charging Stations in December 2018, provided they meet the standard specifications and protocols laid down. The target is to have 1000 charging stations across the country by 2030. Charging stations at private residences are also authorized.