Urban settlements in urban areas especially over the past two decades have become the hotspots of greenhouse gas emissions around the globe. Amongst the rapid industrialization and urbanization in the developing countries in the world, almost every country has registered a steep rise in greenhouse gas emissions over the past two decades. A major fraction of these emissions originate due to anthropogenic activities like consumption of energy in residential, commercial and industrial sectors, transportation, municipal solid waste generation etc. and tend to absorb and emit the radiations emitted by earth’s surface at particular wavelengths within the thermal infrared radiation spectrum.
The rapid economic and infrastructure development in India, post implementation of liberalization, privatization and globalization in 1991 has been a major driving force to upgrade the lifestyles of its residents and in turn create varied pressures on the natural capital of all metropolitan and urban demographic regions. This occurs due to higher population density in urban and suburban regions, persistently increasing urban transport and industrial activities, increasing consumption of power and generation of municipal solid waste in the residential sectors due to changing lifestyles. The emissions from cooking, space heating and cooling, transportation and municipal solid waste generation are playing a major role as drivers of climate change. As the change in lifestyle has changed the residential energy consumption and travel patterns, it has also been continuously changing the municipal solid waste generation over the recent years. Biodegradable food and garden wastes dominate in MSW in the developing countries in comparison to the major fraction of paper products in the developed ones.
The MSW generation in India is increasing at a rate of 1.33% per capita per year and hence resulted in 48Tg in 1997 from 6Tg in 1947. Indian urban areas produce MSW at rate of 0.5- 0.7 kg/day/capita and have the volatile matter content in the range of 10-30%. As 75% of the MSW generated in India is being dumped into 70-90% of non-scientifically managed landfills or open dumpsites the emissions due to anaerobic decomposition in these areas, composing of 60% methane and 40% carbon dioxide with traces of other gases have significant share in the overall greenhouse gas emissions. Having a federal structure, the states in India play a vital role in implementing the energy generation and efficiency policies greenhouse gas emissions due to rapid energy demands, the importance of actions by the Urban Local Bodies in appropriate policy formations and taking steps to mitigate the pressures created by the changing climate is evident.
The recent developments in assessing the scientific evidences of the growing human settlements in the urban areas have listed a series of challenges. One of the most common challenge faced in the developing countries is comprehensively and accurately documenting the data regarding the spatiotemporal developments and human settlements in urban and metropolitan demographic regions, lack of uniformity in accounting the details, varied scientific approaches and irregular and random efforts to document the pressures created on the demography have not satisfied the needs organized data collection.
Thus, the methods that we have developed over the years comprehend all the data regarding present and proposed methods of municipal solid waste management to determine the greenhouse gas emissions which would result from them. Hence, they are useful for the Urban Local Bodies in any city, to evaluate their municipal solid waste management methods on this basis and form a composite plan which best suits their demography.
The direct benefit of undertaking such a study and implementing the results/inferences that it generates
When we focus on the classic definition of sustainable development, proposed in the World Commission on Environment and Development (1987) report, Our Common Future: often referred to as the Bruntland Report, it says “Sustainable development is the ability to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”
This definition underlines three dimensions: environmental responsibility, economic return and social development.
Harris (2001) briefly describes the way in which each of these can be elaborated and understood.
Economic: An economically sustainable system must be able to meet the production and post production service demands, to maintain manageable levels of government and external debt, and to avoid extreme infrastructure or policy or financial imbalances that damage agriculture or industrial productions.
Environmental: An environmentally sustainable system must maintain a stable resource base, avoiding over exploitation of renewable resource systems or environmental sink functions, and depleting non-renewable resources only to the extent that investment is made in adequate substitutes. This includes maintenance of bio-diversity, atmospheric stability, and other ecosystem functions not ordinarily classed as economic resources.
Social: A socially sustainable system must achieve distributional equity, gender equality and most importantly political accountability to all the issues faced. The address should also come in a manner that it reduces the social inequity and boosts every stakeholder’s confidence in the policies regarding sustainable development.
To address all the three dimensions of the term, we need to have a holistic view and solve the hurdles that come by step by step. Thus, this generates the need to look at the subject with respect to the Sustainability Pentagon.
As an individual is viewed with the knowledge and qualities that he possesses, his annual income and the assets that he has and sync this with his behavior as a person, we need to view the same things when we see any particular demographic area. The natural and human capital turn out to be the assets that the area would possess, while the financial capital would determine the ability of the area to deliver to its residents which would again be synchronized with the physical capital i.e. the infrastructure that it has to offer and the social capital i.e. the social equity in the area. Thus, an efficient action plan towards sustainable development would be the one which offers equal benefits to every stakeholder, improves the quality of the environment and conserves the natural resources of the demography and at the same time generates a financial outcome. We need to understand that sustainable development is not a state that can be achieved through any given action plan, but there are many static problems which can be addressed by the plan to sustain the continuous development that we are into.
These static problems are such that they would have to be addressed sooner or later in the course of such a rapid development. Focusing on populous and developing nations like India, when we look back to the infrastructure development trends in fast grwoing demography, we rarely find the advertisements of housing societies or commercial complexes to come with the details regarding the type of plantations and the environment that would be built inside. This is because open green spaces and similar plantations did exist in the vicinity in the past but are rare today, because of the rapid industrial and commercial growth. Thus with a view to the sustainability pentagon, the physical and financial capital have increased at the cost of the natural capital. This makes us pay a higher amount for our houses or offices today. Hence, we need to understand that if we don’t shell out money today for sustaining the resources that we have in our demography, we would pay an elevated price tomorrow to use the same to live a healthy life.
It is therefore important when setting and implementing any strategy that involves more than one person or group of people to appreciate the impact of the differing perceptions each will bring to the process. The differing and often opposing views of the various stakeholders may be a source of frustration, but if efforts are made to build on common ground they can provide an essential audit of both strategy and actions.
Today, when we are in a desperate need of development, we must make sure that we do not damage the already suffering natural carrying capacity of our surrounding. Our view to the sustainable development activities needs to get holistic and detailed from the perseverance of an additional expenditure, it should change from Development assistance to universal global impact, from top-down decision making to multi stakeholder decision-making processes, from growth models that increase inequality and risk to growth models that decrease inequality and risk, from shareholder value business models to stakeholder value business models, from meeting easy development targets to tackling barriers to progress, damage control to investing in resilience, from concepts and testing to scaled up interventions and from multiple discrete actions to cross-scale coordination.
Hence, the inferences and results that our study generates, describe the way in which one could solve this problem catering the infrastructure development and financial difficulties that it generally poses at.
It states the manner in which a demographic area could utilize the wastes that it generates to produce energy and also details the manner in which other derivatives of the treated waste could be used to cater the daily needs of its residents as well as to trigger the growth its physical capital.
It speaks about generating employment respective to these practices and then developing a framework wherein the employees could buy the things of their daily needs from their employer (in this case the government), thereby proposing a sustainable and growing money circle. Finally it proposes the governing municipal corporation to participate in the international carbon credit trade as to generate revenue from the amount of carbon emission that it has saved by implementing the proposed framework. Thus, the framework tries to solve the difficulties in sustainable development of a demographic area, by putting the erection of biogas plants and waste disposal sites at the centre of the sustainability pentagon and addresses the development of each of the 5 capitals that a demography possesses by proposing a sustainable governing methodology, which is focused at utilizing the wastes and by products at every stage to produce an economic output.