Dr. Shalini Sharma is an environmental scientist currently working as the Head of Center for Climate Change at Engineering Staff College of India, Hyderabad. She is a trainer for working professionals, and works on national capacity building programs on climate change and environment.
What was the motivation to start a Department of Climate Change at ESCI?
I am basically an environmental scientist, and a student from Lucknow University. I have always worked with projects related to environment and as a consultant in Environmental Impact Assessment. When the climate change issue started gaining limelight, it was not very different from the environmental concerns. I have always been interested in working with air, and my thesis was on that as well. When I joined ESCI three and half years ago, it was purely a staff college training professionals; but not too many scientists were a part of it. I always felt focusing on the environment would be a pioneering thing. So I proposed the same to the board members and my seniors, and they were kind enough to support me in working on this issue.
What are some of the highlights of your involvement with the Center for Climate Change?
The Center for Climate Change was established on 21st February, 2009. In these past 2 years, we have organized about 25 training programs for the CXOs and mid-management level- open programs for various industry and organization professionals and scientists. Among these training programs, 11 were completely new and the first of their kind being conducted in India. Some examples of such original programs are- trainings on CDM in Forestry sector and power sector, GHG accounting and inventorization. This year, 2 new programs are going to be introduced – one on Climate Change Adaptation and second on Climate Change Mitigation and Low Carbon Strategies for India. Another highlight is the Future Climate Engineering Solutions project with Danish Society of Engineers, Copenhagen, where 12 countries are collaborating on the project (with India as the only developing country). The goal of the project for the India side is to identify whether engineering solutions are available to meet the target of carbon intensity reduction by 20 percent by 2020. We did identify the solutions, and the Danish Society of Engineers compiled a report provided by all the participating countries and presented it to the corporate team.
Given your involvement and work with the corporates, what are your feelings on the present status of the sustainability in India Inc.?
I feel India Inc. is feeling the heat now, and acting upon it as well. I have already worked with a number of corporates during training programs. Some companies and industries are already energy efficient like Dalco, ITC and some of the Tata companies. If they are expected to cut down on more emissions, it will difficult for them to function. But, India Inc. as a whole is doing a lot towards becoming more sustainable.
How important do you feel is capacity building both at an institutional and at an individual level?
I personally think if we accomplish the 8 National Missions under the National Action Plan on Climate Change, it will cater to all the sustainability needs. But there is a lot that needs to be done. At a policy level, we have knowledgeable people framing the policies and providing it to the industries for implementation. But, there is a huge capacity building required at the mid-level as also at the grassroots level to sensitize managers and workers who will be tasked to implement these policies and regulations. As an example, every state is required to come up with a state-level adaptation plan. Some international organizations are trying to help states with their planning process. But, the same support is not provided to the implementers. This is where we have to think about improving.
What is the theme of your upcoming program International Conclave for Climate Change 2011 (ICCC)?
The main theme of International Conclave for Climate Change is clean energy and energy security. Power is the requirement for any development. The developed countries always accuse India of being one of the biggest pollution causing countries of the world, and power is one of the primary reasons for this pollution. That is why we kept the theme as clean energy and energy technology, and we hope to promote the R&D in clean energy, and technology transfer for clean energy. As a scientist myself, I always knew that energy producing sources like coal and gas are exhaustible, and within 30 to 50 years, renewable energy technology will be the only source. India has immense potential from solar thermal and wind power perspective. Hence, the tilt for a fast developing country like India should be clean energy and energy security.
With that aim, we are also organizing an exhibition. This exhibition should help connect buyers and sellers, both international and national. The other 2 focuses of this conclave are Climate Change Adaptations and Mitigation, and Renewable Energy.
ICCC is being supported by Ministry of Coal, Ministry of Environment and Forest, Ministry of Earth Sciences and Ministry of New and Renewable Energy. The State Ministry, both Environment and Chief Minster’s Office of Andhra Pradesh have extended their support. International organizations like Thomson Reuters – Point carbon, GIZ, Climsystems and many more have extended their support as well.
India Carbon Outlook is a media partner for the International Conclave for Climate Change.
This interview has been conducted by Pramita Sen from the India Carbon Outlook team.