It is the year the virus dug in its heels and meddled with millions of lives. But keeping up hope never meant more than it did in 2021. It was the year to persevere and to emerge stronger, to keep one’s head down and quietly work towards end goals.
At TERI, it was a period of fresh starts, firm actions, and new ideas that endeavored towards a sustainable and climate safe future. Here is an overview of the views and news that held sway in 2021.
Dr. Vibha Dhawan took over as the Director General of TERI as mandated by the Governing Council. The first woman to head the organisation in its nearly 50 years of being, Dr Dhawan is a scientist who was instrumental in the establishment of the highly successful Micropropagation Technology Park at TERI. Her recent research interests are in the area of advanced biofuels. She has been associated with TERI since 1985 and has served as the Vice-Chancellor of TERI School of Advanced Studies. She is a Fellow of the National Academy of Sciences, India.
The year kicked off with the 20th edition of TERI’s annual flagship event — The World Sustainable Development Summit 2021. Themed on ‘Redefining our Common Future: Safe and Secure Environment for All’, it was inaugurated by Prime Minister Mr Narendra Modi. The three-day summit underscored the need for urgency in climate action, climate justice, achieving green growth and conserving biodiversity, and paving the path for net-zero emissions by 2050. It also underscored the role of business and industry in achieving the targets.
What would it take, realistically, for India’s energy system to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 and meet the growing aspirations of its 1.4 billion people? TERI’s new scenario sketch, in partnership with Shell India, took a deep dive into the choices and barriers India has if it were to pursue such a goal.
Among TERI’s technological highlights of the year is TADOX®. TERI Advanced Oxidation Technology (TADOX), the patented comprehensive wastewater treatment technology, offers end-to-end treatment of industrial wastewater, mixed streams with untreated sewage, and municipal wastewater. TADOX® technology has been chosen for pilot trials and augmentation plan for identified industrial sectors under ‘Namami Gange’ Programme of the Ministry of Jal Shakti, Government of India. The technology is at TRL 7 and ready for commercialization through field implementations and Technology & Trademark License Agreement from April 1, 2021
A fellowship for Himalayan journalists was designed as a working experience to provide the know-how, training, and practice in creating solutions-based, multimedia stories on climate change. The goal was to open new conversations about reporting on the climate future of the region. The programme charted an innovative path for young journalists to cover impacts, science, and responses amid growing climate awareness in the subcontinent. Here is a peek into one of the best outputs produced under the fellowship.
Mr Darbari Seth was the visionary who founded TERI, then known as the Tata Energy Research Institute, in 1974. TERI has since emerged as one of the world’s pre-eminent think tanks and research institutions in the field of energy, climate change, and sustainability. The 20th Darbari Seth Memorial Lecture held on the occasion of Mr Seth’s Birth Centenary was delivered on August 24 by Dr Praveer Sinha, CEO and Managing Director, Tata Power Company Limited. Mr Bhupender Yadav, Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, delivered the presidential address. To mark Mr Seth’s birth centenary, two special addresses were delivered by his contemporaries Mr R K Krishna Kumar, Trustee, Tata Trusts, and Mr G Narayana, Chairman Emeritus, Excel Industries Limited.
Ahead of COP26 held in Glasgow, TERI, in collaboration with European Union delegation to India, organised a special session on ‘Youth, Science and Climate Action’ emphasising on the amplification of youth voices and the urgent need to raise climate action and ambition. In this session, youth representatives asked questions to Mr. Frans Timmermans, Executive Vice-President, European Union, on a range of subjects including climate finance, adaptation, gender responsive climate solutions, climate action, technological support for greener solutions and the race beyond net-zero.
The Green School Buddy programme was initiated as part of the Fourth Phase of the Green School Project. Students associated with the project since its inception and those who have developed their capacities on various aspects of sustainability conducted and led school activities. By planning and executing informal sessions, the Green School Buddies from classes 9 to 12 aimed at generating awareness on environmental issues around water, energy, forest and biodiversity, and waste management for new students and those in the primary section.
TERI’s conservation efforts in Nagaland were recognised with the prestigious Pathfinder Award for innovation in nature conservation. The awards, organised by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), acknowledge TERI’s efforts at community conservation conducted along with partners in the Northeastern state. The institute’s work on ‘Strengthening Community Conservation in a Biodiversity Hotspot’ explores solutions involving village communities as well as rejuvenating traditional conservation practices.
The COP26 Charter of Actions was launched at an official UNFCCC side event by TERI in Glasgow. The charter, prepared by TERI, highlights key themes and sectors at the national and global level that will enable the development of climate sensitive policy decisions, meaningful climate action, and charting an equitable and sustainable future.
The week-long Adaptation Futures Conference organised by TERI with World Adaptation Science Programme had dignitaries across domains of science, policy, advocacy, and civil society deliberate on issues such as climate justice, raising ambition and accelerating adaptation action, youth and climate change, adaptation finance and adaptation research alliance agenda. The conference highlighted the urgency of climate adaptation actions and the need to raise climate ambition.
The Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises (MSME) sector has been a key driver of India’s economy. The sector employs over 110 million people mostly from rural and peri-urban areas. Within the sector, the micro, home-based and cottage enterprises face several challenges, including supportive infrastructural gaps related to clean energy provisioning, access to affordable credit, adequate skilling and other causes resulting in lower incomes. Initiated in March 2021, Project SMiLE aims to demonstrate and replicate the use of sustainable energy technologies in selected MSME clusters in Uttar Pradesh and enhance the income of entrepreneurs through efficient use of energy and better productivity.
Demand Side Management (DSM) is a win-win option. By reducing power demand during peak hours, it helps DISCOMs avoid the financial losses associated with purchasing power at high costs. By enabling consumers to adopt energy efficient technologies it reduces their electricity bills. DSM helps in avoiding additional GHG emissions at the national level. This short film succinctly captures various options to save power among MSME customers of Tata Power. The project was undertaken by TERI (The Energy and Resources Institute) with support from the MacArthur Foundation.
The three-day World Wind Energy Conference on ‘Powering the World with Wind and Sun’ organised by TERI and the World Wind Energy Association in New Delhi brought together stakeholders from over 30 countries to strategise on ways to tap the potential of wind and solar energies and make the transition to renewables. The 19th edition of the conference was inaugurated by Norwegian Ambassador to India, Mr Hans Jacob Frydenlund. During the conference, Mr Nitin Gadkari, Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways, stressed that the government is on mission mode to decarbonise the transport sector.
Mahindra Lifespaces, the real estate and infrastructure development arm of the Mahindra Group, and TERI, published key findings from five years of research on resource-efficient buildings, materials and technologies tailored to Indian climates and conditions. Led by a team of experts at the Mahindra-TERI Center of Excellence (CoE), a first-of-its-kind joint research initiative between Mahindra Lifespaces and TERI, the findings comprise guidebooks and toolkits that were launched in the presence of Mr Durga Shanker Mishra, Secretary, Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, Government of India. Mahindra Lifespaces and TERI also announced the commencement of Phase-2 of research efforts at the CoE, which will continue to focus on developing science-based solutions for India’s construction industry.