Saturday, June 13, 2009

Blame Games of Air Pollution & Climate Change

With the COP summit in Copenhagen looming in December, the blame game of who is responsible for the emissions and climate change and who should do how much is back on the table. Nick Mabey and Malini Mehta writes (in the Guardian, June 12th, 2009) that "each one (option to cut the emissions or share the blame) seems to advantage the particular country that proposes it. So India wants per capita emissions because it has a growing population. China wants credit for reducing its population and being the workshop of the world. Australia wants credit for being hot. Russia wants credit for being cold. The US argues it is too rich to cut emissions; the Africans that they are too poor."

At the end of the day, what ever the results of the negotiations at COP15 may be, the atmospheric changes will not stop and spare the countries which do or do not control their emissions. More than the power (financial and institutional) to mitigate the GHG emissions, it is the will of the policy makers (and the lobbists) which is at the heart of the negotiations.

While the countries are at it for averting the mitigation role, the sectoral players are also at the top in blaming the others for the current level of GHG emissions. While the popular ones have been the transport and industrial sectors (including power) contributing the most to the cumulative GHG emissions, the new ways are emerging to shift the blame. For example, the role of the black carbon emissions in the climate change was new and immediately the known skeptics like Inhofe become the fans of the climate change, which (black carbon) is providing them fuel to shift the climate change blame from transport centeric US cultures to biomass centeric African and Indian domestics. Now the Black Carbon and the Soot of poor people's stove comes to the rescue?

Another example, is blaming the roads for the air pollution. A Life-cycle Energy and Emissions Inventories for Motorcycles, Diesel Automobiles, School Buses, Electric Buses, Chicago Rail, and New York City Rail published by University of California, Berkeley, in May, 2009, suggests that the role of the roads is higher when the life cycle of the vehicles is taken into consideration. So, it is not the vehicles to be blamed, but the material used for the construction of the roads.

The argument should be based on the health impact of the emissions which are current - for example, the vehicle exhaust - due to the on-road use and congestion, which is a growing problem. Just because the road is constructed with green material (whatever they are), the environment doesn't get clean and the city people are not breathing clean air. Cars or other vehicles are still on the road and polluting (local and global).

Blame game tactic?

The sources of air pollution (and the GHG emissions) and their contributions is a challenging exercise.

1 comment:

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