The Power Hungry Podcast

Joyashree Roy: IPCC Author

July 14, 2020 Robert Bryce & Joyashree Roy Season 1 Episode 4
The Power Hungry Podcast
Joyashree Roy: IPCC Author
Chapters
The Power Hungry Podcast
Joyashree Roy: IPCC Author
Jul 14, 2020 Season 1 Episode 4
Robert Bryce & Joyashree Roy

In the fourth edition of the Power Hungry Podcast, Robert Bryce talks with economist Joyashree Roy, who was among the members of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change who, in 2007, were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Joyashree and Robert discuss her upbringing in eastern India, why developing countries like India will continue burning coal to produce electricity, and how the pandemic has underscored the need to provide more electricity to people in the developing world.

Show Notes Transcript

In the fourth edition of the Power Hungry Podcast, Robert Bryce talks with economist Joyashree Roy, who was among the members of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change who, in 2007, were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Joyashree and Robert discuss her upbringing in eastern India, why developing countries like India will continue burning coal to produce electricity, and how the pandemic has underscored the need to provide more electricity to people in the developing world.

Robert Bryce :

Hello, everyone, welcome to the power hungry podcast. My name is Robert Bryce. This podcast is about energy power innovation. And because we talk about those topics, we inevitably talk about politics. And today I'm really happy to welcome my friend joy Shri Roy, who's joining us from Bangkok. I've known Julia Sri for several years. She is one of the world's leading economists on issues of pollution and, and on climate change and the politics and the economics of that. And joy Shree, you were we've known each other, as I said, for, I don't know, five or six years now and you really facilitated the trip that I took to India that along with my wife, Lauren, and Tyson Culver, back in 2016, which was critically in the making of the film juice, which is now out. So I can introduce you and you have a long CV and a long resume. I'm going to put you on the spot would you introduce yourself to our listeners in case they don't know who you are or though you've just met someone and you're going on a trip together and they want you to know who you are, if you don't mind.

Unknown Speaker :

Okay, so I'm Dr. St. Croix current key and the Bongo bone to chair professor in energy economists and energy Environment and Climate Change program at Asian Institute of Technology in Bangkok, Thailand.

Robert Bryce :

Before we started recording, I was talking to you about your background so I know that you went to from your resume you went to Lady Dean College in Shillong in Meghalaya, which is a North Eastern most part of India, which is barely even connected to India. But tell me about where you grew up. I don't know any of your background, your history your family, if you don't mind. Just tell me a little bit about that and how you ended up at lady Dean college which sounds like a lady Dean girls college with sounds Like pretty remarkable place. Mm hmm.

Unknown Speaker :

Yeah, actually, I was born and brought up in the pink town hill station in foothills of Himalayas. It is actually 3000 feet above sea level and a full of pine trees or didn't drawn plum pears a fantastic walkable town at that time. So

Robert Bryce :

is that in Meghalaya?

Unknown Speaker :

Yeah, yeah, yeah, main column in the land of plowed. So it's really a land of clouds. Anytime you are walking on the street, you'll see that cloud the cloud is passing by you. So it was a completely different life there. So on our way to school, shopping marketing, we used to meet all the citizens of the city and almost knew each other. So it was famous for leaving Education, tourism and waterfalls here in there. So hydroelectricity was the major source of electricity at the time when we were growing up. But for cooking and spacing, it was a fire old coal, kerosene, which had the mid major sources, even until 1980s. And after that came liquefied petroleum gas for cooking, and then electric cooking but not for all. So to avoid cold we used to wear all in such a fashion as we knew, using coal in space heating in closed rooms is not good for health. Sure. So we had wooden houses, so with interesting local material for insulation. When I look back, that was indeed a great buildings technology, but I think now the scale is Last but yeah, it was great.

Robert Bryce :

And the skill is lost meaning what I'm sorry.

Unknown Speaker :

Because you know, at that time the local carpenters used to have very high skill and they used to build these houses. So if you ask them, they were never they never gone to the schools or anything but it was a traditional knowledge. I see. It's so beautiful houses but that was not properly documented. And after that, the concrete and cement came in and so the ugly building started popping up. I know this last Sure.

Robert Bryce :

So how far is it so and so far? How far is that town from Shillong which is I guess the major city in Meghalaya,

Unknown Speaker :

I must say in Shillong, so you were joking. Yeah, that was a town where so Shillong was the capital of Meghalaya But if you think of Assam, which was the original bigger state, which got divided later on, but Assam tea right, which is famous, so sure on was the capital of Assam and Shillong was also known as Scotland of the East. So it was really, really beautiful. And so the college you know, it's a nostalgia, if I talk of litical girls college, it was a pioneer in college for women at that time. It started in 1935. I mean well before the independence of India, and it was truly a cosmopolitan college and we used to get girls from all over India. And as I said, this town was really very good for education. So people used to come from different parts of India, and for their college and schooling. So ob used to get a whole bunch of people from different parts of India with different cultural diversity. So it was a completely different reality where we grew up. And so yeah, it's really separate

Robert Bryce :

really separate from the mean the I mean, the overwhelming majority of India, right? I mean, now you're almost completely separated with Bangladesh in the middle, you just have that small. If Smith's Connect connecting Meghalaya with the rest of India, I looked up lady Dean college and this is on their website, they talk about the school and reading it now it seems kind of anachronistic, right? The way they talk about it even but it says, the institution shall be equipped with the necessary facilities to make our women useful, and helpful members of the society capable of taking part in activities related to the moral social, intellectual, physical, and economic development of the community at large. And it's it's seems almost quaint now to read something Like that, but I mean, we're talking almost 100 years ago, this is a major change in India or even I think he would really even be for the US. Just a college university just for women.

Unknown Speaker :

Yeah. But also, you know, very important to understand is that not just in part of India? Yeah. I mean, the British missionary came there long back. And so the education in that part of that part of India is above 90%. of always, you know, so the education was a major, major priority for the families there.

Robert Bryce :

And that was part of the legacy of the British colonial rule then a verse or do you attribute it to that? I don't want to assume that but is that was that

Unknown Speaker :

not okay? But I would say that okay, in very, very remote parts of India, where they went, they did establish schools, which were taught in English But I would say that India has a very long cultural history of having the education and training and so a real learning no nalanda University and so, that was a long long back there, which is in Bihar now. So, so it was even, I mean during the during 500 ad So, I mean, these are very old institutions we do have.

Robert Bryce :

Sure, well, and then I saw you get your master's in economics at Northeastern Hill University, which was also in Shillong. And then and then you went to Kolkata and you got your doctorate at, at coke at Juniper where we visited in Kolkata in 1991. So how did you end up in Kolkata then from from Shillong?

Unknown Speaker :

Oh, well, actually, if you think then regionally I'm in Bengali. So and Kolkata is in Bengali. So from that point of view, it's the same region. So I had my maternal and paternal houses in Calcutta. And also, you know, I mean, that was the nearest city in the eastern part of India, which was a mega city with all different kinds of facilities. And the university is one of the top universities in India. So when I thought that I'll be doing my PhD I, of course, the choice was for dad to put in university. So I came there for two for doing my PhD, but my brothers were also in the engineering school, in Jabu University at that time. So it was kind of so my other family members were there and so we've moved there, and there'll be had our own house also there. So yeah, it makes sense. To come back soon.

Robert Bryce :

So tell me about your family. And I want to just tell me about your siblings. And then I want you to talk about your mother because in juice, you talked about your own mother. And in the interviews, we've talked about that how, what a great influence she had on you. So I mean, how many siblings do you have?

Unknown Speaker :

Oh, we have six to have the youngest of four brothers and one elder sister to me. And my mother, she grew up in Calcutta, and she went to school and completed hard class 10th grade and then she got married at 17. And then she went to her husband's house, and that was in at that time, India was on divided so Bangladesh and best being gone were the same country right. So they went to that part in eastern part of Bengal. But then later on again, when India got divided, she came back with my father. To Shillong, and they've got settled there because my father was with the central government intelligence department. So they settled in Shillong. And then after that when I came to do my PhD in Gaza poor so my mother, and my sister and I, we all move to Calcutta. So yeah, that's it.

Robert Bryce :

But But from what the way you spoke, and she was a tremendous influence on you, as well, as someone who was just, yeah, go ahead.

Unknown Speaker :

Yeah. So if you talk about the influence, then it has a very different story because I lost my father when I was two years old, because and that was also not a natural death, right. So he was assassinated by the insurgents at that time he was an intelligence department. And so my mother will be six of us and she was at the age of three 35 at that time, so she had to bring us up. And we be the ideal that she wanted us to be good citizens. And she wanted us to be educated. That was her primary motivation. And so because she was educated at that time, so she went, she got a job in a school to teach and which was closer to our home. So she could take care of our children as well as she could do her job. And with that, with the dignity she could bring us up, so only thing which we learned from trial to this, that you need to have self confidence and for that you need education. And that's the only thing which can make you to do something in your life. And if you really want to do something in your life, and that's the only thing you should be aiming for. So with all these words, we grew up in such a Before that, and the kind of hardship we saw she used to do for bringing us up and to take care of our education, our health, our food, our nutrition, everything that. So we were a very knighted family, we always talk about sweet heart and so be together wanted to do something, you know. So so that really had a very interesting influence in all of us, I would say.

Robert Bryce :

Remarkable, really, I mean, your mother that I mean that your mother would be a teacher, and you mentioned the importance of having electricity in your house when you grew up. Right, that that was, I mean, that combination of those things really set you on a path, which leads to my you know, my first question to kind of bring us up to date. So, in 2007, you are still a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, as I understand it, right. So you were part of that group that won the Nobel Peace Prize, or at least we're In 2007, growing up in Shillong, did you ever, ever imagine in your wildest dreams that you have some, I mean, I know it's not given necessarily directly to you, right? It's not yours to say, Oh, I carry this around them.

Unknown Speaker :

Yeah, the big Papa feed because we got the certificate. So we got it we 2000 scientists were part of the hole, and we had to take a decision what we will do with the money. So we decided to put the money for providing fellowship to the aspiring scientists who want to do research and pursue their PhD. So it goes to all the students all over the world. So yeah, I mean, I never, I could never imagine. But, you know, I mean, even after when this was announced, so I remember one of the newspapers in India, they asked me that, how did you end up with doing research on climate change? And environment. So I said that this is really due to my Shillong connection, because I grew up with the nature and I knew what value it had in my life and in our life from that point of view, and I really feel it even been in my heart Even today that what it means to grow up in that kind of rich, natural biodiversity and know be more human value. So this is something very important to me. Is your mother still alive? Say I know I lost her four years back

Robert Bryce :

so she so she was able to see you be part of this Nobel prize that must have been pretty moment for you a good moment for you what

Unknown Speaker :

Yeah, and she got the certificate framed and show that

Robert Bryce :

you had that you had to enjoy that, I'm sure. Yeah, but did you ever dream when you were at lady dean at lady keen girls college and she long that you would end up in that kind of a situation or even then now being having a doctorate and hadn't living in Bangkok? And I mean, you've traveled the world really from, you know, a very remote well, relatively remote part of India. But still, I mean, it's pretty remarkable journey you've had.

Unknown Speaker :

Yeah, I feel you know, that. I don't think that I've been we are so myopic. We just do not know what will be happening next day, right? Whoever imagined that pandemic will change our lifestyle, right. So yeah, so it's like so we are myopic from that point of view. But one thing I learned from my life is that you need to know that what really advances humans Life, right? So it's the knowledge. It's that training. It's the skill building. It's your introspection as well as your connection and collective community feeling. All these things build up. So your social capital, your human capital, and knowledge, capital, I think are the three basic things which really takes you forward. So from that point of view, you I mean, I always feel even today that I do not know where I'll end up. But I know that I'm on the right path, which it can put me on the, on the frontiers of discourse in human civilization. And so that I can maybe even even if one Oh, One of 7 billion share also if I contribute, that'd be my life satisfaction. That's great.

Robert Bryce :

Well, so you live in Bangkok now. So that's I mean, we've looked pad back at where you've been and it's it's a pretty remarkable journey right to be raised by a single mom and and to make that journey from a you know, what is really a small town in India, I mean, would be still considered a small town in India to Nobel Prize now in Bangkok. Tell me about what you see in Bangkok and kind of the I mean, our focus has been on energy and climate and and where we go from here. How does the approach to these issues in Thailand differ from what you've been familiar with in India? what's what's the difference there?

Unknown Speaker :

Yeah, it's interesting. You know, if you really want to To compare the energy development or the energy or environmental issues between the two countries or even two cities or whatever, one need to really look into multiple things and then only one can compare right. So, for me, what I would like to see is that Okay, so what is the resource endowment of the two countries how they are different? So these are things which I look into right? And then I look into that. Okay, so what is the access to technology in both countries? And what is the capacity in both countries? What is the size of the country, so all these things do matter? So from that point of view, the first striking thing which I came when I came to Bangkok, was that if you think of the resource, you know, I mean, in Thailand, it's the natural gas and oil is a percent of their resource. And so

Robert Bryce :

when you say 80% of the resource, what you're saying resource so that their consumption or their, their their ability to sense, okay?

Unknown Speaker :

natural gas and oil. And if you look into their power generation 60% is from gas when Matt 19% is only from coal, and the rest of it isn't renewable, etc. And the other thing is that in if you look into India, then it's the coal, which dominates, right? So it's, it's just just the reverse in number right. So, if you think so, from that point of view, India is coal dependent, and Thailand is gas dependent, you can say, right, this makes a major difference when I look at the environment and climate change and the other thing is that if you look into the per capita consumption of electricity, then in Thailand, it is almost just the double of India's per capita consumption. And but in both regions, you know, Australia is the main coal exporter. Sure, so what the countries import coal from Australia and but if we look into the conversion technology and and then how the resources also related to it, this is very interesting because in Thailand, bioenergy is a very important resource and their technology and their indigenous technology development in that, along with their policy is remarkable and you can see the cost of a plantation and all these different varieties etc. And many other right so they are all they are really progressing very fast to be our target on bioenergy. But if you look into India's bioenergy policy, that was a disaster. It was not a success story, there are several reasons but it was not a success story, but from another point of view, India has nuclear power and nuclear energy power for energy and wind. But these two are not in Thailand, because we India is not feasible and nuclear, they don't have and if you now think in terms of the modern micro grid based on solar and renewables, so, this is again Thailand is progressing faster than in India or you could say in terms of their own technology development, etc. But

Robert Bryce :

can I interrupt you there because So, why Is that I mean, you know, you have cultural differences. Bangkok has a higher per capita income. And that, of course, is related directly to energy consumption. But what is the mean we can talk about what the particulars are biofuels and the rest of it, but is there something that is is difference in government or different in governance, would it Why is Thailand able to do for instance, micro grids, which I think would, you know, potentially have a great opportunity in India, what do you see is the difference?

Unknown Speaker :

Yeah, no, because they have a higher level of r&d and RND invest investment, and also they have more technically trained people and they are higher income country. So, a higher means a high middle income country and so they have more investment in that. So, that is something which is very important. And also but also interestingly, if you look into the energy efficiency, India has made a great progress in that So, that is also very interesting to compare. But structurally, both the economies have an in service sector share is more a more than 50% in both economies, but Thailand has very high export of the manufacturing electronics and also agricultural products. It's a huge exporter, so much of variety in agricultural horticultural production. So that's a major exporter. India also has very fertile land, but then it has more people to feed. So it's less exporting compared to Thailand. And I would say that biotechnology has progressed a lot in Thailand. They have invested in this RND for very, very long time. And so from that point of view, if you look into the irrigation technology because that's also another very energy using technology. Right? So in India, it's mostly groundwater based, so there is more electricity consumption. But in Thailand that is more surface water based. And so and they have a higher education, but then it's more efficient irrigation system they have. So I mean, these are really interesting comparisons which you can actually make. But size wise if you see, then it's interesting right. So population is in Thailand is point 069 billion, and in India 1.3 billion. And India's population is growing now at a 1% per annum, and in Thailand, it is point 3% per annum and Thailand has very low unemployed momentary right forget about the pandemic, but then before that, so it was very low and so so it's more a happening place. And very interestingly you know their king the earlier King made Thailand a kind of concept of sufficiency economy. And what he did he asked every province, what is the resource endowment they feel they can use locally and what can be their speciality they can build on it. And every province came out to be their special skill and the resource they identified themselves and King funded those. And so now they have Ot o p, a marketing chain, which markets all these products and you will not believe how would quality and fantastic they are and what kind of diverse So people did not move out of the rural areas actually, the main the rural area very rich from that point of view. Of course there is poverty here also because there is a relative poverty, but it's much less but I would say that that's fantastic. The concept which I think I have learned, Gandhi talked about this long back in 1935 40s. Sure, India, but it did not take up but he could make it.

Robert Bryce :

Well, so let's jump back because you mentioned the issue of coal and and the US. The latest data from BP suggests that there showed that the US coal consumption dropped 19% last year. I looked it up I think the coal use in the US is now at the same level it was in 1965. And it's going to drop another 20% or so this year is the projection so coal is clearly on the way out in the United States and being replaced by gas, but it's not the case in India. And India has is, and Modi himself and others have said, Well, this is going to stick around for a long time. So why is that? I mean, you know, it's easy and what you see in us and the US and Europe Oh coal is bad, but there's Is there a path forward for India that doesn't include coal in the next couple of decades.

Unknown Speaker :

Um, you know, this is a interesting, so, if you my research shows that I mean, because in India, I would say that it between 80s. So after the first oil shock in 1973, India took a position to dig out more oil and gas. So they really did that for 20 years, I would say and at that time, gas and oil consumption was increasing in India and that was domestic oil. So that really replaced imported oil, but then the reserves was declining. So India started importing oil, and that really put a burden on the foreign exchange for India. So what happened was at that time, Australia was competing with exporting coal be cheaper. And so India already had the technology to generate power from coal, and you can start a plant in three to five years. So it's a very short gestation period. So that really, there was a huge rise in demand. So to meet this peak demand, and given that imported coal was cheaper. So the coal production coal based power station continued in India, right. So that was a major thing. Are you Which really happened, but even now, today, if you look into this, then you will see that it's still I mean, although 59% of installed capacity is from coal in India now, but the generation wise it is still 76% of generation comes from coal right. And although the I mean share of hydro electricity, which was much higher which declined, so, hydro electricity investment in hydroelectricity was going down in between because people thought that hydroelectricity is creating environmental problem. So, that was another kind of social environmental issue people looked at but did not look into call for another environmental issue. So, this is something I think I'm in more myopic vision, which really led to this thing. So, now, what I see is that, even if I do all different kinds I have very, very optimistic projection also and scenario building for India. So even if I say that India is going to follow the global need for emission reduction, and that's why the winds change their energy usage pattern, but even with all optimistic numbers and investment need, I do see that coal will continue till 2050. And with the current ci m in programs, which is now on the board with the government, with that I'm in 50% will still be called in 2050 unless you do differently, so how differently you can do. So we did another analysis where we want to To see that if gas is taken as a transition fuel, and if it replaces coal, then what it means. So very interestingly, we found very, two very important results, I would say. One is that if you replace gas with for coal, and you still allow because given the expenditure and the import bill, you need to still allow some coal still there. And so if you really allow the ultra supercritical plants only still in 2050, we can see that still 20% will be called capacity from ultra and super critical.

Robert Bryce :

So they should so just to interrupt because I just want everybody's listening to understand. So they're three different types of coal plants or theirs is called subcritical, which is the overwhelming majority of coal plants in the world are subcritical that is that they are Built it relatively well, it we call it a standard design we have beyond that you go to super critical and ultra supercritical, and those plants have operated higher temperature and higher pressure. And therefore they get, I believe the term is greater in thalmic efficiency. So you get more you wring more watt hours out of each pounder ounce or gram of coal or tonne of coal, and their and therefore, less emissions per unit of output. So, but they're more expensive to build there, you know, and, and some of the and, and the technology is not as widely available, and it just is more expensive. So, India and other countries have been building subcritical plants, but let me shift that to not just talk about India, because what is clear from the latest data from BP and elsewhere is that the world is really being split in terms of power generation and you know, my focus and a lot of your focus lately has been on electricity, and that the global electricity market is being split between the the relatively well Countries the developed world and and really Asian South Asian countries where they're adopting and building more coal fired capacity. So it's really a schism in terms of schism or bifurcation, I guess would be the the better word between the the the fuel choices being made for power generation in the West versus in in Asia and from what you've just said, it sounds like that that is that that bifurcation is going to going to continue simply because countries are going to build the power Gen sources that then generation plants that make sense for them now, am I am I that that square with what you know?

Unknown Speaker :

Yeah, that's happening. But then also, you know, now, I would say that, yes, that's the reason but then, the other question is that because a separate example still, Germany has 36% of their generation from coal and China has 60% from All right. So and as you said in us, it is 19% and Japan,

Robert Bryce :

Japan and Japan is building new coal fired power plants do

Unknown Speaker :

new coal plant right. So, the question is for India, we need more generation now because there is still unmet demand for electricity, right. So it's a India's a per capita electricity consumption is three times less than the world average. So definitely with the rising population, and we have 200 million poor people, the demand for electricity is going to grow anyway. So I mean, you can stop because I'll come to that later. But so what I'm just trying to say is that so demand is going to grow. So you cannot stop the current coal plants. Like many other countries, what they are trying to Do they are stopping right and they are bringing in renewable and they are stopping the coal. But in India, that's not an option, any of the solar plant also comes that will be additional to what we have now. So, even if we are not building any more steel till 2050 some of this capacity will need to continue you know, because just to meet the total demand. So, from that point of view, although in 2015 given all the numbers, even if we see that 50% of the installed capacity will be from solar wind and hydro, but the generation will be much less So, only 21% because of the efficiency, given that if we assume that the efficiency is not going to improve too much, then at least that will be the key so called a will be needed otherwise you replace them buy gas but that also you cannot do everything because you cannot depend hundred percent on the imported fuel because and

Robert Bryce :

that's right and that's more expensive

Unknown Speaker :

Exactly. So, so, these are the issues you know these are the real critical issues which one has to address scientifically and then try to see that what But okay, but I would say that there is another thing another discussion which actually, I would say from 2007 onwards in IPCC reports, you will see that there has been a discussion that we have no new coal plant can be can be allowed to continue and not I mean not prescribing but then say that it cannot be recommended to continue without carbon capture and storage. So, then you make them zero carbon right. So, India's if you look into the National NDC right, actually determined contribution in Paris, in that document also India talks about the carbon capture and storage. But the technology has in many countries like China is doing tremendous progress in that. But in terms of demonstration projects in and in Europe, they are doing a tremendous progress in that. But in India, not even a single demonstration project has started, you know, so I feel that if India decides to stay with coal, then there is no way out back to invest in carbon capture and storage.

Robert Bryce :

Sure, but that but that's an economic question. Right. And this brings me back to back to the mean this is always the trade off right. And it's one of the key I think the friction points when it comes to the Paris agreement or or any of the projections about needs for overall co2 emissions reductions is that countries like India like Thailand, and they're going to make decisions that are in their own self interest, right, and that they're the politicians get and get elected and stay in office by making people's lives better. And one of the ways they do that is through cheap electricity. So, I mean, isn't that one of the key challenges, though, and it's in terms of the longer term progress for developing countries is, is that is that tension, right between relatively cheap energy and coal fits that description? And this other, the other desires, the other discussions about trying to limit emissions and, you know, as we've talked about that is are they going to choose the economy first or emissions?

Unknown Speaker :

No, I don't say that. You cannot make a choice of either or, because if there is more emissions than they are is going to be an indirect impact. And so there will be more cost on the economy in terms of damages, etc. So it's like you know that do I eat cheap burger? Or do I eat healthy food? So or do I end up giving more medical bill? Or do I go for preventive healthcare? Right? So it's like that. So, from that point of view, I would say that, to me, environmental resource is a natural capital. So if we can take care of that capital, then of course, the economy and the manmade capital, which is a power plant to which we are building, we need to balance the natural capital and the manmade capital, and this whole thing really makes the development sustainable, right. So in the long term, and also in the short term in terms of reduced damage cost. So from that point of view, I don't think There is a conflict between environment and economy, but it is how we have made our economic policies have we made it artificially? distortionary incentive. That is something very important, right. So is your oily unhealthy food cheap in the market? And is healthy fruit is costly in the market, then then I would say that market incentives to change if I want my people to lead a healthy life.

Robert Bryce :

Well, then let me let me stop you there because that is what what I'm hearing you say even when I'm first you know, you're saying they don't have to be separate. So a lot of people in the US have been talking about there's a lot of people are saying, well, carbon tax will will implement a carbon tax. How do you what do you think about that? You're an economist is would that would would India or Thailand or Bangladesh? Would they willingly signed on to a carbon tax

Unknown Speaker :

you know better signing on is a different that's a political that's a international politics. Right.

Robert Bryce :

Right. But that's but that's the rub. I mean that's that's the that's the hard part. No,

Unknown Speaker :

but let me tell you one interesting thing. India it was from I'm forgetting exactly the date but I think it is from 2007 2008 nine maybe or 2010. Exactly. Since the ban India actually imposed a carbon tax not called tax but in a very public all public economists books you will find C'est si Ws s right. So carbon says we had so Paul says is so in India we do have this public policy instrument called says so we have education says we have water says like that. So we had a call says we meant that any say for example Iran steel industry if they have to buy from Coal India, hundred tons of coal they need to pay a call cess of 400 rupees per tonne and 400 rupees is say 50 cents per tonne right so that's something which is imposed by the government on as a cold says so that's a tax right so it's exactly like tax but SAS has a meaning that it has to go back to the sector for each alternative development although that has not been followed in India but there was a big chance for that. So there are many thousand million rupees have been accumulated in that national Clean Energy Fund. So basically, the countries have their revenue generation process. So this is a revenue for the countries that so

Robert Bryce :

but that's not that's but that's not an overall carbon tax that would then apply to natural gas and apply to oil as well. Right? Because then you're going to have this this economy economy wide energy tax and and and, and it's had it's had no traction here in the United States and I'm, I'm not optimistic that we're going to see one but it's still the idea. I understand the idea and an economic standpoint makes a lot of sense. But in reality, it just seems to me very difficult to implement.

Unknown Speaker :

I don't know I would not so difficult to implement, but as an economist, and also you know, I would say in 80s when I was doing my research and I was trying to see that if carbon taxes implemented and what it means for the Indian industries, right. And then I found that Okay, so they will have their productivity loss because they depend too much on energy and so their technology is a we call it energy buyers and that was almost the finding for many other countries. But from 2000 when we took the data and we started analyzing we find that the industries are changing their technology so much. So, they are making their energy saving technologies. And so, now, if you impose a carbon tax, they have the flexibility of doing substitution among the factory inputs and the fuels and so that they can actually internalize that. So, I do not think that the days have changed you know, so, if you look empirically, the industries are also adjusting quite a bit. So I think I mean with carbon tax, the money which comes as a revenue can be used for the research and development for making clean coal technology or Have cleaner technology, so fossil fuel with carbon capture and storage, or maybe you know, I mean, all different kinds of clean technologies. I don't want to be a technology picker. But because I don't believe that one single technology can really dominate in the whole system, there has to be a whole portfolio of technologies. So you need money for that. So I think from the economy, if you generate the money, and you incentivize the cleaner production processes, then definitely the investors will see business in that. And so that's how you create a business, right? So your new business comes in when you create a new new business environment. So from that point of view, I would say that one should see the optimism in that rather than seeing this as a negative point.

Robert Bryce :

So fair enough what occurs to me Just now as well. So does the pandemic change this now, I mean, the global economy is taking a big hit is is do you think you will make the question? Is the pandemic going to change the global energy mix in any significant way will it is this going to have any kind of longer term impact on energy markets would any any thoughts on that

Unknown Speaker :

um, it will be very difficult to say right now, because it depends how the Say for example, the recovery package is in every country is invested or directed right. So, one thing is very clear that you have to invest in such a way so that it becomes economically viable, so that it creates So, the kind of economic income loss that has happened that has to happen and also I feel as an economist that you really need to invest in building some capital for your economy, which can have long term revenue generation for your economy. So, from that point of view, anyway investment needs to be in Say for example, in India it has to be in the power generation sector. So, in which kind of technology this can be directed, there is a big choice to make, right. So, sure something which can be done, right. But what I feel is that in pandemic one thing may became very clear is that the, it's the health and hygiene right so, which is very important. So, to maintain hygiene for the countries like India, where 50% At least I mean worldwide, right so, 50% did not have access to nearly 100 Jean because they don't have running hot water in their homes. Right. So, pandemic was the story of the pandemic. I mean, I would say the prescriptions about hygiene was only valid for 50% of the world population and for 50%, who doesn't have hot water, who doesn't have water, who doesn't have electricity in their home? And what to talk about hygiene for them? Right, so, but I mean, it really brought out the real story of our injustice that we are still living with. So if you ask me where the money needs to be spent, I would say that can we dare to create the infrastructure of electricity and water for this 50% of the world population who really need sick now, and so can that investment it can actually solve all the problems in one shot, that bold decision has to be taken. So the pandemic, I'm going to repeat back my interpretation of what you just said is that the pandemic has only underscored this vast disparity in energy availability. Yeah, it just clearly showed that all hygiene practices, which have been told is for the 50% of the world population

Robert Bryce :

that has access to hot water and electricity.

Unknown Speaker :

And when you ask them to stay home, what they will say they don't have a roof. And you talk of rooftop solar, for whom, right so I mean, these are the real questions which are this pandemic has shown us in front of us this is actually challenging the 50% of the privilege like us, right. So who got the electricity who never felt what it means If there is no electricity, there is no dignified living. What does it mean? We have never experienced that. So how can we say that is the three bugs for the poor will solve their electricity demand problem? Is it three bulbs with which we have lived every normal life? or so? You know, I mean, I think that that's what understanding that this pandemic has shown that the development process that we have lived with so far has been for 50% of the world, and 50% has been deprived of this development. And if they had been deprived, this is their time now starts where we really need to invest all our priority things. So what are housing and electricity. If these three things are provided, then the disparity is gone, and then you can think that they participate. They Participate in the whole discourse? What is climate change? What is an health disaster? What is natural disaster, they never participate because they live between two binaries, you know, whether they will die out of any natural disaster, or they will die out of hunger. So it's, it's not a choice for them. So they never participate in all these discourses and we also do not hear their voices. This pandemic has made us to hear their voices. So I think this is hard choices we have to make now and in this one decade, we have to make these hard choices. So

Robert Bryce :

let me follow up on that because we talked about this on on fact in in the documentary and at one point, you said, we were talking about efforts by some NGOs in the developed world to limit the financing for hydrocarbon projects in the in the developing big world and that there were active, active efforts to prevent the World Bank, BlackRock, other entities, big funding organizations to prevent them from investing in any kind of hydrocarbon projects in the developing world. And as I recall, you said that it, I'm paraphrasing, but it's close. I think you said it's a crime. It's a major crime. So is that is I'm putting you on the spot here a little bit. But I mean, this. This is this is key, though, is it not the availability of capital to make this development happen has to come from the rich countries to go to the relatively poor ones. Is that not part of that investment has to come from them? No,

Unknown Speaker :

no, I mean, this the current coal burning in different countries. The numbers I told you a little earlier, right? So if we look into those numbers, and if you think that you really need to provide electricity to The 50% of the underprivileged in the world. I'm not saying where they are everywhere, right? Sure, if the numbers are somewhere more than somewhere less, then why not think in terms of stopping all all coal fired plants, which provides electricity to the privileged and give the electricity to the poor in our hearts and ask this question, and of course, I think that those who demonstrate that there should be a demonstration against coal, power plant, less coal power plants should be built. I do believe in people's freedom. I'm in the right to freedom of expression, and I am a believer of that. So I can't the I don't think that we should stop anyone from saying that they need to be given the freedom But I do not see it as a problem, if the investment comes to the cleaner energy and for the 50% of the deprived population, if that can happen, this is the win win situation right. So, I do not see that as a problem, but it has to be a conscious choice to be made for whom and where we are going to build the cleaner technologies and we have to make investment. And as I said, you know, there have been talk of carbon capture and storage. So then the investment has to come that way. And then the cost sharing needs to be done globally, right. And so that property incentives need to be there for the investors. And but

Robert Bryce :

that's gonna but that means international cooperation on this. I mean, it's going to be our

Unknown Speaker :

Sunday, you know, you cannot avoid because it's a it's a it's an global problem which we are talking about, we want to solve. If we do not talk of carbon, then it's a, it's a fragmented world, still, they can take a fragmented decision. But if it is of carbon and which is having an impact on the global economy, health and everything, then of course, there has to be a global cooperation, not in each and everything, but in certain things. There has to be a global cooperation.

Robert Bryce :

And so well, so let me I'm sorry to interrupt. But so are you optimistic about that? Because I mean, I go back and forth, right, because, in fact, Jason board off wrote a piece recently about this, saying that the pandemic is reflective of how difficult it is to get international cooperation on anything, right. And here we have a disease that's International, but there the amount of international cooperation has been, well, kind of, you know, maybe not so good. Are you optimistic that that will happen? I mean, that we will see that kind of international cooperation that you're you're advocating for Okay,

Unknown Speaker :

let me let me just say one or two more things, and then I'll answer your question. Right. So what I just feel is that, uh, so long the the freedom of expression doesn't say that for need, do not prescribe how much the poor need and do not prescribe what the privilege needs, then I have a problem, you know, so, I mean, I think it has to be that how much the underprivileged really need that has to be the priority. So this justice issue really need to come up front. So unless we address this, we are going to be going away farther and farther away from any kind of participation or cooperation in the world. Because this has shown people the hardest hit or those who doesn't have the privileges and they are the hardest Hip This time we are talking less of them, we are talking more of ourselves. But you know this will come back as a backlash. So we really need to be very careful about this unless we have this hard talk, it will be very difficult. And if you talk off the optimism, then I would say that, you know, I mean, if we, the privileged ones are not optimistic and if we lose hope, and if we do not burn our morning and the night lamps to find the solution for this injustice, who do so, it's not a matter of sorry. It's not a matter of optimism or pessimism. It's our mandate. We should do it in the mandate.

Robert Bryce :

I'm going to repeat back or reflect back what I would I, you know, how I'm hearing you that, and I'll call it you say, justice, its energy justice, is that is that the right term that that the, that the mandate has to be energy justice for the power less, right. I mean, one of the things that you have 40% of the world's population 3.3 billion people by my research that are using less electricity than my refrigerator, in my kitchen, that that, that that has to be the fundamental motivating force about bringing, well Okay, so now it's me talking about bringing those people out of the dark and into modernity, that that's that's that has to be the priority.

Unknown Speaker :

Yeah. And the mandate comes from hierarchy. You know, it should not come in any international but written agreement or anything, it should come from heart and if that doesn't come if our consciousness doesn't lead us to that then We are no humans. So I feel that to be really, really need to be asking questions to ourselves. So I think pandemic has given, brought us in front of us, our own, our own our own introspective picture, which we build within ourselves, about the civilization and about what and about

Robert Bryce :

what we want that to be. Yeah. Yeah. And that that and that and that dealing with a pandemic is fundamentally a reflection of energy availability.

Unknown Speaker :

self reflection, and I always feel that it's it's easy. We're asking people to stay home and they have no electricity they have 10 by 10. space to live and maybe 10 people living there. What what are these Up norms we are talking about so i think it's it's a high time that we should get the hearts call to do something for this justice you know

Robert Bryce :

we've been talking now for for close to an hour that's that's beautifully put. So let me just ask you a couple of last things here. So when you look at the intellectuals around the world when you look at it and people authors doing things that others who do, who are who you admire, whose work do you admire in the things that we've been discussing that what what is the who's who do you really think is a thought leader in some of these things or books that you're reading now that really are are are of interest to you?

Unknown Speaker :

know, there are many books which are interesting, and I'm reading many historical books also, but

Robert Bryce :

just give me Just give me did you can you give me two or three that you I mean, even what you're reading now, anything, give me give me a recommendation.

Unknown Speaker :

Yeah, I know I'm reading now a people, and I really liked Jared Diamond's. But this book, but this is a completely different book and I'm really liking it because it gives very interesting and comparisons, but also I'm reading many books by written by the Indian thought leaders very old books, one by Swami vivekanand, who went to in 1818 9698. At that time, he went to us to talk about to give a lecture in Chicago, religious, parliamentary parliament and religion in Chicago. So, he's a very, I mean, he talked about religion, but he was an educated English educated You young person was there. So he used to talk, what is his patient about India? So I'm reading those and reading a Gandhi is my experimentation with truth and reading rather Krishna since the first President of India, his book on Gandhi. So very interesting reading, are you upset because I just wanted to refresh my mind, you know, and I did not want to name in a single but if you tell me, I, maybe among the modern Thai modern days, I have not gotten anyone really to admire, because I have seen that all the development, which I have also been studying and practicing and doing have excluded 50% of population. So it's a it's a real time now when we all have to ask ourselves, that what has gone wrong with the development process, what has been right with the development process, so If we look into the right ones, and then we can correct the wrong ones, right? So how can we get all hundred percent within our fault so that we all can work together? So from that point of view, I would say that I can't name a single person for admiration maybe he or she is in the making or they are in the making. So I'm very hopeful and I'm sure that humanity will not let this chance to go and to save the civilization so we have to make our efforts and keep burning our morning and night lamps. Forget about our nature and think for the civilization and humanity at large.

Robert Bryce :

I think that's a good place to stop. I think that's like, although I will say burning the morning and night lamps No, no, no lamps, light bulbs. We need light bulbs and led Yeah, no lamps, lamps, lamps. That's yesterday.

Unknown Speaker :

Some lamps now

Robert Bryce :

I understand the poetic there, but I would Yeah, but I want the I'm with you that that. That is the key challenge that faces us is this that this this VAT mass, massive energy disparity that is that we particularly in the United States and Western countries don't think about so much, but it's very much the key challenge in Asia, South Asia, China, and obviously in India,

Unknown Speaker :

but Asian, Southeast Asian, Myanmar and all those places if you go, I mean, it's a huge challenge. I mean, you have to give productive energy to everybody.

Robert Bryce :

Well, I completely agree that on we have every reason to and we should because it is it is a great challenge of our time. Well, Joy Shri Roy, you've been very kind with your time and I know it's your 12 hours ahead and Bangkok from where I am, it's morning here evening there. But I'm going to go ahead and close up The podcast here thank you all for listening to the power hungry podcast. I have six books you can find them on the interweb they're available on Amazon Joy's tree if people want to find your work or you're on the website at Asia Institute of Technology is that that right there easily easily Google apple.

Unknown Speaker :

Yeah but also you can say see a new platform which I have started in the pandemic is the change framing dot space. Okay, you can see what is coming out as my new thinking and and trying to use the space for taking forward the new thinking

Robert Bryce :

change framing dot space. Okay, good. Well, all of you out there listening look at change framing dot space. You can look at what our new film joy is one of the stars of our new documentary juice how electricity explains the world. She's really a rock star and just mad some beautiful texture and comments to the film. I'm easy to find Robert Bryce, calm If you want more about the film juice, the movie.com on the web or juice for all on Twitter. I'm going to stop there. This has been the power hungry podcast. Thank you very much for listening and I will see you next time. Thank you.

Unknown Speaker :

Thanks Jerry Shree. Thank you.