climate change

A beginner's guide to what transpired at the Paris climate summit

Amid the hype about the Paris Agreement, here are some home truths about what it holds for the future.

What did you bloody greenies do ? What is this Paris climate deal?
After 21 years of haggling and delays, governments of the world collectively agreed to take action domestically and internationally to tackle climate change by cutting their carbon emissions/ The “Paris package” to which the legally binding instrument – the “Paris agreement” – is annexed aims to contain the increase in the global average temperature to “well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels” – a more ambitious goal than had been expected. This new climate deal will come into force in 2020.

Meaning how, exactly?
Mainly by boosting clean energy investments while conserving and enhancing forests and other ecosystems. Boosting clean energy investments means more finance for research and deployment of renewable energy and energy efficiency, with the hope that burning of fossil fuels will be phased out by end of the century. However, nowhere in the text are the words fossil fuels, coal or oil used. Conserving and enhancing forests should mean more “predictable, sustainable, large-scale pay-for-performance finance”. Right now, the cash box is more or less empty, but hopes are tied to private financing.

Is renewable energy really ready for all this?
I caught a plane from Kochi airport, the world’s first fully solar-powered airport. I think it is.

What about forests?
The agreement includes the necessary technical and scientific rules to provide a blueprint to countries looking to protect natural forests and their biodiversity, as well as the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities, with the inclusion of Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation as a standalone article.

Most importantly, it includes a system to report on how those safeguards are addressed and respected. This sets a precedent for protecting rights in all climate actions, and for the protection of natural forests. It’s important to note that there has been plenty of research demonstrating that market-based initiatives, which REDD+ focuses on, are unlikely to be the solution in and of themselves.

Sweet invitation for private financing for afforestation projects.

So it's all about money?

Climate change is happening faster than system change: the impossible demand of social activists.

So, is the deal good or bad?
Let's just agree with activist George Monbiot: "By comparison to what it could have been, it’s a miracle. By comparison to what it should have been, it’s a disaster."

No, seriously, is that good or bad?
For those who remember the debacle at the Copenhagen summit, where talks failed at the last minute, the Paris agreement is "good" in so much as that countries have finally acknowledged that they have a problem and have agreed to take collective action, but mostly “bad” because to meet these ambitious goals, the world will need to spend more than $16tn over the next 15 years.

However, the Paris Agreement only commits to "mobilising" $100 billion per year by 2020 to cover not just emission cuts but also adaptation. This is far short of the support required, and there is no firm commitment to increase this figure, merely an aspiration to review it by 2025. And since it is about money, basically no one knows where the money is coming from and until then, countries are allowed to continue emitting against self-designated targets, aka Intended Nationally Determined Contributions.

So why is everyone celebrating ?
Not everyone is, but more on that later. First, you must understand that the Paris Agreement would not have been possible if the countries had not resorted to the strategy of win some, lose some and compromise on others. No country or group can claim an outright victory on any of the contentious issues, and at the same time each of them had something to celebrate.

The ones I saw cheering the most in the plenary were the staff of the French presidency and United Nations. For them to lead and ensure the successful conclusion of a multilateral process with world leaders in attendance, at a time when France technically is at “state of war”, is a huge shot in the arm.

The Americans were dancing on the floor of course. President Barack Obama finally has a legacy to justify his Nobel Peace Prize, while his team led by Secretary of State John Kerry can boast of diabolical brinksmanship - they escaped any binding commitment by replacing “shall” with ‘should” in the text.

The Chinese were brimming because they see huge market opportunities ahead, while the Indians were seen backslapping because the agreement reflects differentiation, acknowledging that the world is not homogeneous either. The decision will be implemented to reflect “equity and the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, in the light of different national circumstances.”

And your friends, the green ones?
Have you been listening or not? This is it, their moment of reckoning. Imagine world governments parroting your lines, “coal kills – renewable energy is the future, save forests, change lifestyles”. It's 20 years later and probably too late, but what the hell. Now my bloody greeny friends, as you like to call them, have a moral high ground as climate guardians and raison d'etre to continue to harangue their respective governments to deliver on the promises they made in Paris.

So who is not celebrating?
The ones who are at the bottom of this soon-to-be unleashed financial trickle, for whom it is not about money at all but about daily survival, representatives of the people’s movements, of grassroots NGOs and indigenous people, the workers unions and the rights activists. Before the talks began, they had agreed on a set of criteria that the Paris deal would need to meet to be effective and fair. This "People’s Test" is based on climate science and the needs of communities affected by climate change and other injustices across the globe.

To meet the People’s Test, the Paris deal would need to do the following four things:

* Catalyse immediate, urgent and drastic emission reductions

* Provide adequate support for transformation

* Deliver justice for impacted people;

* Focus on genuine, effective action rather than false solutions

Clearly the Paris summit, in its bid for consensus, has failed to pass the test, according to them.

Paris is beautiful, despite its lingering sadness.

So another world is not possible?
No. Climate change is happening faster than system change. And there is no provision in the treaty for compensation and liabilities for loss and damage that has already happened due to climate change.

Forget it. How was Paris?
Paris is beautiful, like its people. The weather was mostly grey and the mood sombre. Despite the lingering sadness following the terror attacks in the city in November, the people were most tolerant and polite – beautiful people who understand the meaning of "tolerance" and practice it. They were nice to us suits too.

So did you go party?
No, I followed our prime minister’s advice to the world and did not change my lifestyle. Barring one evening, I ate Indian food every night. I highly recommend Saravana Bhavan and Sangeeta near Gare du Nord terminus for vegetarian food.

Shailendra Yashwant (@shaibaba) travelled to the Paris summit in a borrowed suit and on a ticket paid for by Climate Action Network South Asia, a coalition of 141 NGOs that he advises on communication and advocacy strategies.

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The next Industrial Revolution is here – driven by the digitalization of manufacturing processes

Technologies such as Industry 4.0, IoT, robotics and Big Data analytics are transforming the manufacturing industry in a big way.

The manufacturing industry across the world is seeing major changes, driven by globalization and increasing consumer demand. As per a report by the World Economic Forum and Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Ltd on the future of manufacturing, the ability to innovate at a quicker pace will be the major differentiating factor in the success of companies and countries.

This is substantiated by a PWC research which shows that across industries, the most innovative companies in the manufacturing sector grew 38% (2013 - 2016), about 11% year on year, while the least innovative manufacturers posted only a 10% growth over the same period.

Along with innovation in products, the transformation of manufacturing processes will also be essential for companies to remain competitive and maintain their profitability. This is where digital technologies can act as a potential game changer.

The digitalization of the manufacturing industry involves the integration of digital technologies in manufacturing processes across the value chain. Also referred to as Industry 4.0, digitalization is poised to reshape all aspects of the manufacturing industry and is being hailed as the next Industrial Revolution. Integral to Industry 4.0 is the ‘smart factory’, where devices are inter-connected, and processes are streamlined, thus ensuring greater productivity across the value chain, from design and development, to engineering and manufacturing and finally to service and logistics.

Internet of Things (IoT), robotics, artificial intelligence and Big Data analytics are some of the key technologies powering Industry 4.0. According to a report, Industry 4.0 will prompt manufacturers globally to invest $267 billion in technologies like IoT by 2020. Investments in digitalization can lead to excellent returns. Companies that have implemented digitalization solutions have almost halved their manufacturing cycle time through more efficient use of their production lines. With a single line now able to produce more than double the number of product variants as three lines in the conventional model, end to end digitalization has led to an almost 20% jump in productivity.

Digitalization and the Indian manufacturing industry

The Make in India program aims to increase the contribution of the manufacturing industry to the country’s GDP from 16% to 25% by 2022. India’s manufacturing sector could also potentially touch $1 trillion by 2025. However, to achieve these goals and for the industry to reach its potential, it must overcome the several internal and external obstacles that impede its growth. These include competition from other Asian countries, infrastructural deficiencies and lack of skilled manpower.

There is a common sentiment across big manufacturers that India lacks the eco-system for making sophisticated components. According to FICCI’s report on the readiness of Indian manufacturing to adopt advanced manufacturing trends, only 10% of companies have adopted new technologies for manufacturing, while 80% plan to adopt the same by 2020. This indicates a significant gap between the potential and the reality of India’s manufacturing industry.

The ‘Make in India’ vision of positioning India as a global manufacturing hub requires the industry to adopt innovative technologies. Digitalization can give the Indian industry an impetus to deliver products and services that match global standards, thereby getting access to global markets.

The policy, thus far, has received a favourable response as global tech giants have either set up or are in the process of setting up hi-tech manufacturing plants in India. Siemens, for instance, is helping companies in India gain a competitive advantage by integrating industry-specific software applications that optimise performance across the entire value chain.

The Digital Enterprise is Siemens’ solution portfolio for the digitalization of industries. It comprises of powerful software and future-proof automation solutions for industries and companies of all sizes. For the discrete industries, the Digital Enterprise Suite offers software and hardware solutions to seamlessly integrate and digitalize their entire value chain – including suppliers – from product design to service, all based on one data model. The result of this is a perfect digital copy of the value chain: the digital twin. This enables companies to perform simulation, testing, and optimization in a completely virtual environment.

The process industries benefit from Integrated Engineering to Integrated Operations by utilizing a continuous data model of the entire lifecycle of a plant that helps to increase flexibility and efficiency. Both offerings can be easily customized to meet the individual requirements of each sector and company, like specific simulation software for machines or entire plants.

Siemens has identified projects across industries and plans to upgrade these industries by connecting hardware, software and data. This seamless integration of state-of-the-art digital technologies to provide sustainable growth that benefits everyone is what Siemens calls ‘Ingenuity for Life’.

Case studies for technology-led changes

An example of the implementation of digitalization solutions from Siemens can be seen in the case of pharma major Cipla Ltd’s Kurkumbh factory.

Cipla needed a robust and flexible distributed control system to dispense and manage solvents for the manufacture of its APIs (active pharmaceutical ingredients used in many medicines). As part of the project, Siemens partnered with Cipla to install the DCS-SIMATIC PCS 7 control system and migrate from batch manufacturing to continuous manufacturing. By establishing the first ever flow Chemistry based API production system in India, Siemens has helped Cipla in significantly lowering floor space, time, wastage, energy and utility costs. This has also improved safety and product quality.

In yet another example, technology provided by Siemens helped a cement plant maximise its production capacity. Wonder Cement, a greenfield project set up by RK Marbles in Rajasthan, needed an automated system to improve productivity. Siemens’ solution called CEMAT used actual plant data to make precise predictions for quality parameters which were previously manually entered by operators. As a result, production efficiency was increased and operators were also freed up to work on other critical tasks. Additionally, emissions and energy consumption were lowered – a significant achievement for a typically energy intensive cement plant.

In the case of automobile major, Mahindra & Mahindra, Siemens’ involvement involved digitalizing the whole product development system. Siemens has partnered with the manufacturer to provide a holistic solution across the entire value chain, from design and planning to engineering and execution. This includes design and software solutions for Product Lifecycle Management, Siemens Technology for Powertrain (STP) and Integrated Automation. For Powertrain, the solutions include SINUMERIK, SINAMICS, SIMOTICS and SIMATIC controls and drives, besides CNC and PLC-controlled machines linked via the Profinet interface.

The above solutions helped the company puts its entire product lifecycle on a digital platform. This has led to multi-fold benefits – better time optimization, higher productivity, improved vehicle performance and quicker response to market requirements.

Siemens is using its global expertise to guide Indian industries through their digital transformation. With the right technologies in place, India can see a significant improvement in design and engineering, cutting product development time by as much as 30%. Besides, digital technologies driven by ‘Ingenuity for Life’ can help Indian manufacturers achieve energy efficiency and ensure variety and flexibility in their product offerings while maintaining quality.


The above examples of successful implementation of digitalization are just some of the examples of ‘Ingenuity for Life’ in action. To learn more about Siemens’ push to digitalize India’s manufacturing sector, see here.

This article was produced on behalf of Siemens by the marketing team and not by the editorial staff.