New UN report finds almost no industry profitable if environmental costs were included

If you haven’t been paying attention, I don’t blame you for at first not believing this. After all, companies go to great lengths to greenwash their image and present themselves as progressive and environmentally responsible, even while they turn your land to deserts and your oceans into dead zones. Unfortunately, as Mark Twain once famously said: “It’s easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled.”

pollution2

The truth is that our current system allows pretty much every corporation to externalize both environmental and social costs. In this article, we won’t even be touching on social costs. If you don’t know what cost externalization is, you can imagine it as making someone else pay part or all of your costs. For example, BP externalized the environmental costs of the Deepwater Horizon disaster by consuming all of the profits but making the government pay for anything beyond the most shoddy and superficial attempts at stopping the crisis.

A new report by Trucost on behalf of The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) program sponsored by United Nations Environmental Program, examined the money earned by the biggest industries on this planet, and then contrasted them with 100 different types of environmental costs. To make this easier, they turned these 100 categories into 6: water use, land use, greenhouse gas emissions, waste pollution, land pollution, and water pollution.

The report found that when you took the externalized costs into effect, essentially NONE of the industries was actually making a profit. The huge profit margins being made by the world’s most profitable industries (oil, meat, tobacco, mining, electronics) is being paid for against the future: we are trading long term sustainability for the benefit of shareholders. Sometimes the environmental costs vastly outweighed revenue, meaning that these industries would be constantly losing money had they actually been paying for the ecological damage and strain they were causing.

trucosttop5regionsectors

In terms of land and water use: almost no companies are actually paying a price remotely comparable for what they are actually taking away from the ecosystems. Consider that fact that Nestle pumps water out of drought-ridden California without limits for an unannounced but extremely low price, and turns around and sells this exact same water back to those affected by the resulting droughts for approximate $4 billion profit per year (based on 2012 data).

The even scarier fact in all this is that the indirect costs “downstream” from the industries are actually even greater. Here are the top 5 sectors passing along insane costs:

trucostdirectindirect

If you didn’t notice yet: meat and coal are probably the largest offenders. If you look at table 2 again, you can see that cattle ranching in South America carries 18 times a higher environmental cost than all the revenue it brings in. Once you think about this, it is probably less surprising that 91% of Amazon rainforest destruction is fueled by increased animal agriculture.

How much money would these companies be losing if they were actually covering the environmental costs or paying to reduce their environmental impact? Well, the report also covers this:

trucostnaturalvsrevenue

So, now that it has become abundantly clear that our current regulatory system is corrupt/deficient, what do we do about it? Well, firstly we need to stop allowing companies to pretend that they are “environmentally responsible” when they are worse behaved than any child you have ever met. If someone came in and destroyed your kitchen to make you a piece of bread with butter, demanded money for it, and then bragged about being a “responsible cook,” it wouldn’t be any less ridiculous.

After we have stopped tolerating the bullshit, we need to seek and support actual solutions. We have to be willing to boycott and campaign against “cheap” products that are actually environmentally costly, as well as putting pressure onto governments to amend their regulations. Why should we expect companies to change if neither consumers or governments are forcing them?

To finish up, I will include what the Trucost report suggests for industries, investors, and governments. Please join in helping inform people about this situation, about these costs, and helping create more pressure to remove these “externalities.”

trucostfix

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INCOME TAX RETURN FORM AY 2016-17 NOTIFIED

CBDT has released New Income Tax return form for assessment year 2016-17.Last year income tax department has released the Final Income tax return form in last week of June ,due to which Income tax return due date has extended and lately due date in audit cases was also extended after the court interference .We have not gone through Income tax forms in detailed but ITR-1 and ITR-2 are more or less is same as it were last year.

However for assessment year 2016-17, the tax department has now included a schedule on asset and liabilities which will have to be filled by individuals and HUFs, or Hindu Undivided Families, where total income exceeds Rs.50 lakh. It has also asked individuals and HUFs to provide details of pass-through income from business trust or investment fund in ITR form 2 and ITR form 2A.

Further Income tax return filing rule has been changed to some extend and now ITR form 4S (for presumptive income ) is now can be filed by Firms other than Limited liability firms .
INCOME-TAX (NINTH AMENDMENT) RULES, 2016 – AMENDMENT IN RULE 12 AND SUBSTITUTION OF FORMS SAHAJ (ITR-1), ITR-2, ITR-2A, ITR-3, SUGAM (ITR-4S), ITR-4, ITR-5, ITR-6, ITR-7 AND ITR-V
NOTIFICATION NO. SO 1262(E) [NO.24/2016 (F.NO.370142/2/2016-TPL)]DATED 30-3-2016
In exercise of the powers conferred by section 295 of the Income-tax Act, 1961 (43 of 1961), the Central Board of Direct Taxes hereby makes the following rules further to amend the Income-tax Rules, 1962, namely:—
1. (1) These rules may be called the Income-tax (9th Amendment) Rules, 2016.
(2) They shall come into force with effect from the 1st day of April, 2016.
2. In the Income-tax rules, 1962,—
(1) in rule 12,—
(a) in sub-rule (1),—
(A) after the word, brackets, figure and letter “sub-section (4E)”, the words, brackets, figure and letter “or sub-section (4F)” shall be inserted;
(B) for the figures “2015”, the figures “2016” shall be substituted;
(C) in clause (ca), after the words “Hindu undivided family”, the words “or a firm, other than a limited liability partnership firm,” shall be inserted;
(D) in clause (g), after the word, brackets, figure and letter “sub-section (4E)”, the words, brackets, figure and letter “or sub-section (4F)” shall be inserted;
(b) in sub-rule (5), for the figures “2014”, the figures “2015” shall be substituted.

(2) in Appendix-II, for “Forms Sahaj (ITR-1), ITR-2, ITR-2A, ITR-3, Sugam (ITR-4S), ITR-4, ITR-5, ITR-6, ITR-7 and ITR-V”, the following forms shall respectively be substituted, namely:—

Download ITR forms for AY -2016-17
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  1. Forms Sahaj (ITR-1), 
  2. ITR-2, 
  3. ITR-2A,
  4. ITR-3,
  5. Sugam (ITR-4S),
  6. ITR-4, 
  7. ITR-5,
  8. ITR-6,
  9. ITR-7
  10. ITR-V

Read more: INCOME TAX RETURN FORM AY 2016-17 NOTIFIED | SIMPLE TAX INDIA
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Cheaper renewable energy soars past nuclear power in India

Renewable energy in India has overtaken nuclear power as the country seeks carbon-free sources of energy to balance its reliance on coal.

The cost of renewable energy is now lower than the cost of nuclear power.

Renewable energy generation in India is higher than its nuclear power generation and is growing at a much faster pace because it is cheaper and quicker to install. The cost of renewable energy is now lower than the cost of nuclear power and does not come with attendant risks, such as last week’s radioactive fuel leak in Gujarat.

Renewable energy generation in India was 61.8 billion units, versus 36.1 billion units of nuclear power generation during the financial year 2014-’15. Renewable energy accounted for 5.6% of electricity generated in India, against 3.2% for nuclear power.

Renewable energy has been growing at a faster pace than nuclear power over two years. During 2013-’14 and 2014-’15, renewable energy grew at 11.7% and 16.2%, respectively, while nuclear power growth has been almost flat over the same period.

Source: Central Electricity Authority
Source: Central Electricity Authority

Meeting targets

The bulk of India’s renewable energy comes from wind, but solar energy is growing faster, with installed capacity reaching 5,775 megawatts in February 2016. The national solar mission has set a target of 100,000 MW of solar power by 2022. If this target is met, renewable energy will become the second-largest source of power for India, after coal, and ahead of hydropower, natural gas and nuclear energy.

Nuclear power capacity in India is 5,780 MW; another 1,500 MW is under construction and another 3,400 MW has been cleared – a total of 10,680 MW by the end of the decade.

Renewable energy’s growth is propelled by the falling costs of solar and wind energy, as reported earlier.

In November 2015, US-based SunEdison offered solar electricity in India at Rs 4.63/unit. In January this year, this was followed by a Finnish company, Fortum Finnsurya, offering solar power to the National Thermal Power Corporation for Rs 4.34/unit.

At these prices, solar electricity is already cheaper than electricity coming from newly built hydro and nuclear power plants. For instance, India is now starting work on a Rs 39,849-crore expansion (2 units of 1,000 MW each) of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant, Tamil Nadu, due to be completed by 2020-21. Electricity from these reactors – if they are completed on time – will cost Rs 6.3/unit.

Past experience in India and elsewhere suggests this is unlikely.

Slow progress

Work on Units 1 and 2 of the Kudankulam Power Plant began in 2001 and was supposed to be completed by 2007 and 2008. Unit 1 began commercial operations in December 2014 while Unit 2 is yet to be commissioned.

This experience is mirrored in other countries: a power plant being builtby the US firm Westinghouse is more than three years behind schedule; a French company, Areva, is building a reactor in Finland, about nine years behind schedule. Both, Areva and Westinghouse, are among four foreign companies that want to build reactors for the Nuclear Power Corporation of India.

While nuclear power plants typically take more than a decade to build, solar farms and wind-mills can be erected in a few weeks to a few months, with capacities that range from 0.1 MW to 1,000 MW.

Also, nuclear power plants are owned and operated in India by one company, the Nuclear Power Corporation of India. Solar and wind-energy installation have been set up by private individuals, airports, banks, oil companies and educational institutions.

Apart from shutdowns – such as this and this in Kudankulam, and the one we referred to in Gujarat – making nuclear power more expensive, there is also the issue of nuclear liability: Who pays in case something goes wrong? Foreign companies want to build reactors in India, but don’t want to face resultant liabilities.

The drawbacks

The single biggest problem of renewable power is its intermittent nature. The sun does not always shine, and the wind does not always blow.

So, 1 MW of renewable energy generated 1.43 million units of electricity from April 2015 to January 2016. Over the same period, 1 MW of nuclear power generated 5.85 million units of electricity. A nuclear power plant can operate round the clock and can supply electricity at night.

There is currently no cost-effective answer for supplying renewable energy round the clock.

An interim solution can be to use renewable energy when it’s available, and turn to natural gas, a fuel much cleaner than coal, at other times. India has more than 24,000 MW of natural gas-fired power plants – enough to supply almost 10% of current electricity demand – mostly idle due to lack of cheap fuel. The drop in international gas prices offers an opportunity to fire them up again, as IndiaSpend has reported.

Solar power also needs a lot of land. Putting up 1 MW of solar powerrequires two hectares of land. This means large-scale solar power plants should only be put up on land that has no value for agriculture or wildlife. This restricts large-scale solar power to the arid areas of Rajasthan, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh and Ladakh. Small-scale rooftop solar plants can, however, be installed in cities.

..Amit Bhandari, IndiaSpend.com

This article was first published on IndiaSpend, a data-driven and public interest journalism non-profit.