Tuesday, November 30, 2010

New Delhi and Beijing Tied for the World City with the Worst Air Quality

This list of World's worst polluters is published in Daily Finance on November 29th, 2010

List goes as

(1) Beijing, China
(1) New Delhi, India
(3) Santiago, Chile
(4) Mexico City, Mexico
(5) Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
(6) Cairo, Egypt
(7) Chongqing, China
(8) Guanzhou, China
(9) Hong Kong, Hong Kong
(10) Kabul, Afghanistan

Top 100 cities with the worst air quality in the World (WHO, 2011)

General arguments aside that the ratings depend on what the parameters are, reliability of the information used for this ranking, and how the rating system is defined, it is sad to see cities like Kabul and Ulaanbaatar on the list - with least population compared to the rest of the cities in Top 10.

Of the ten, four were in news for hosting the biggest sports events
Beijing for the Olympic Games (2008)
Hong Kong for the East Asian Games (2009)
Delhi for the Commonwealth Games (2010)
Guanzhou for the Asian Games (2010)

Questions - Hong Kong (city is a good public transport system) is worse than any of the other cities not listed here - Dhaka, Hanoi, Shanghai, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Manila?


Published in Daily Finance

With the latest round of global climate change talks set to begin this week in Cancun, Mexico, the assembled delegates should be thankful they're not meeting in, say, Beijing or New Delhi. Those two cities are tied at the top of a list no city should want to be on: those with the world's worst air quality.

Indeed, one reason -- beyond melting glaciers and rising sea levels -- that nations are meeting again to try to hammer out some consensus on what to do about earth's deteriorating climate is that the very air we're breathing is dangerous. Some of the world's largest and most densely populated cities have air that's so polluted that people suffer from lung diseases at rates that are orders of magnitude above global averages. Birth defects in these cities are also at extraordinarily high levels, as are heart disease and cancer rates.
Many of these cities are among the fastest-growing in the world. And in some, residents burn wood and coal for warmth, releasing additional deadly pollution into the atmosphere.

But which cities have the world's worst air? To compile such a list, 24/7 Wall St. has reviewed several dozen studies on air quality conducted over the past few years, along with data from government websites and private sources. Our review examined data about the following pollutants:
  • Sulfur dioxide: Produced when fossil fuels are burned and is the primary cause of acid rain. Exposure causes eye irritation, coughing, worsening of asthma and respiratory-tract infections.
  • Nitrogen dioxide: Produced by generators, power plants and motor vehicles. It has been shown to cause bronchitis and other pulmonary diseases.
  • Particulates: Refers to a variety of small pollutants, including lead, dust, ammonia, soot and pulverized minerals. They're a leading cause of lung cancer. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), mortality in cities with high levels of particulates "exceeds that observed in relatively cleaner cities by 15% to 20%."
With that background, here are 24/7's 10 cities with the worst air quality:
1) Beijing, China (tie)
Beijing's air quality has become so bad that the city has recently been engulfed in a hazardous haze (pictured above). As a result, schools have been forced to cancel outdoor activities, and health experts have asked that children, the elderly and people with respiratory ailments stay indoors. The city recorded the world's highest level of sulfur dioxide concentrations for 2000 to 2005 and has the third-highest level of nitrogen dioxide behind only Sao Paulo and Mexico City. Pollution improved in 2008 because officials banned roughly half of the city's cars when it hosted the Olympic Games. Of course, the air got worse again after the games left town.
1) New Delhi, India (tie)
According to WHO's most recent findings, New Delhi ranks second in concentrations in particulates, at a level more than six times higher than what WHO considers safe. According to the Harvard International Review, two in every five of the city's 13.8 million residents suffer from respiratory illness. The report says the main cause of New Delhi's air pollution is car exhaust and dust kicked up from overcrowded roads. As a result, construction workers and taxi drivers are most at risk for debilitating illness or even early death.

3) Santiago, Chile
According to WHO, a city's airborne particulate matter should not exceed 50 micrograms per cubic meter. In Santiago, an alert is issued when the level hits 200 micrograms. In 2008, on some days the city reached 444 micrograms. Additionally, Santiago has the second-highest level of ground-level ozone, according to WHO.
4) Mexico City, Mexico
According to researchers from the University of Salzburg, Mexico City has high concentrations of nearly every major harmful airborne pollutant, including sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and carbon monoxide. By far the worst problem gripping the city is the massive cloud of smog that hangs over it almost every day. Mexico City has the highest level of ground-level ozone in the world, according to WHO.
5) Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
In Ulaanbaatar, the annual average particulate matter concentrations are 14 times higher than WHO's recommended level. The city's poor air quality has caused high incidences of chronic bronchitis and cardiovascular diseases. A thick smog often blankets the city, and at times daytime visibility is so poor that cars must use their headlights.
6) Cairo, Egypt
The most recent WHO data ranked Cairo as having the second-highest levels of particulates in the world after New Delhi. Another WHO report, issued a few years ago, equated living in the city of 7.8 million to smoking a pack of cigarettes a day. Because Egypt doesn't use unleaded gasoline, citizens are exposed to high levels of lead every day. On occasion, Cairo is also under what's commonly called "the black cloud": a dense, poisonous mass of smoke caused by the seasonal burning of rice by local farmers.
7) Chongqing, China
One of the fastest-growing cities in China, Chongqing has extremely high levels of air pollution because of coal-burning by power plants and industry. The poor air quality is sickening the city's residents. Studies have found that 4.63% of children under 14 suffer from asthma, although prevalence in girls may be underreported due to cultural bias. Levels of nitrogen oxide are rising because of vehicle emissions.
8) Guangzhou, China
Guangzhou, a provincial capital, has a population of roughly 12 million and one of the worst levels of particulates in China. Total suspended particles, according to a 2007 study, were worse than in Beijing. Sulfur dioxide levels, according to the most recent WHO data, were second only to Beijing. As industrial production and traffic within Guangzhou continue to increase, more people are suffering from shortness of breath, coughing, dizziness, weakness and nausea.
9) Hong Kong
Hong Kong features excessive levels of nitrogen dioxide, ozone, sulfur dioxide and carbon monoxide. The Air Pollution Index, which rates the likelihood of people getting ill from breathing a city's air, has recently reached 500, the highest possible level, for multiple parts of Hong Kong. This year saw the worst levels of pollution since 1995, prompting the government to warn people against doing outdoor activities. These levels were 12 to 14 times worse than WHO standards. No wonder a recent Gallup poll has shown that 70% of Hong Kong's population are dissatisfied with their horrible air quality.
10) Kabul, Afghanistan
Because of the war in Afghanistan, the nation's capital has been flooded by refugees from the surrounding countryside. According to an NPR report, Kabul's infrastructure is designed for about 500,000 residents, but it now supports more than 5 million. The overcrowded city is full of wood-burning stoves, and gas-powered generators are commonly used to supply electricity that a war-ravaged grid cannot provide. Cars use leaded gasoline, and residents sometimes burn plastic tires to stay warm. As a result of the increasingly high levels of dangerous particulates in the air, President Hamid Karzai has declared a state of emergency in the capital city. According to the director for the Ministry of Public Health, "Air pollution is a huge problem here, it leads to so many diseases -- respiratory diseases, allergies, miscarriages and even cancer."

Monday, November 29, 2010

Effective Design to Increase Cycling (ERL)

From the Environmental Research Web

As scientists modeling sustainable urban transport, we are confronted with a significant conundrum. On the one hand, non-motorized transport (NMT) comprises the most sustainable modes. Neither walking nor cycling emits GHG emissions, nor does it contribute to air pollution, nor does it produce noise externalities, nor does congestion result from NMT activities. Hence, we are of course interested in understanding what incentivizes NMT, and how the modal share of cyclists and pedestrians can be increased while satifying mobility demands.

On the other hand, however, the literature on incenvizing factors of NMT and crosselasticities between other modes and NMT is sparse. This is to some degree because investments and political attention go into motorized transport. NMT is mostly handled as a given that will find its place, and does not need further attention. Furthermore, monetary costs of motorized transport make motorized transport an accessible object for transport economists. The intrinsic non-monetary nature of NMT make incentives much harder measurable - a considerable knowledge gap results. As sustainable urban transport gains more attention, pedestrians and cyclists shift into the spotlight.

A recent study of Montreal cycling by Larsen and El-Geneidy helps to shed light on the relationship between bicycle lane availability and attractivity of use. These are some of the main conclusions:

  • Recreational cyclists are more likley to use bicycle facilities (e.g. bike lanes)
  • Frequent cyclists use lanes less and travel greater distances
  • Greater separation of bike lanes from vehicle traffic - e.g. by bicycle alleys - increases trip distance
  • Connectivity of the network matters: The longer bicycle lanes are, and the better they are connected with other bicycle lanes and facilities, the more attractive they become for users

The authors conclude by suggesting that physically separated bike lanes are best to encourage novice cyclists. The connectivity of a bicycle network may, however, be the most important design and investment criterion.

It would be very interesting seeing more studies on this topic. What is, for example, the cost-benefit relation of different kind of bicycle facilities (measured in $ infrastructure investment versus marginal increased bicycle use)? How does this cost benefit relation change as a function of bicycle network connectivity? Can these results be generalized to other cities?

5 things for cutting coal consumption

Article from the Daily Green

There is good news and bad news this Thanksgiving weekend on the climate stewardship front.

Bad news first. Despite the economic slowdown, the atmosphere's greenhouse gas concentration rose in 2009, due in large part to the coal-stoked economic growth in China and India, home to 40 percent of humanity. Some 92 percent of the growth in coal-fired emissions during 2007-2009 was a result of coal burning in China and India.

It has to be some sort of cosmic joke that two of the world's fastest growing economies also hold an estimated 21 percent of the world's dirtiest fuel. Must be the same prankster who put more than half of the world's proven oil reserves beneath the sands of the world's most geopolitically unstable region.

Anyway…China's coal hunger is driving exports from coal-mongers in Australia, South Africa, and the U.S. - where a battle is brewing over a proposed coal loading port on the Columbia River between Washington and Oregon.

The China/India coal binge will be grist for the mill of can't-do politicians who insist that the U.S. cannot stem the rise of greenhouse gas emissions and shouldn't try.

Oh, but it can, and here's the good news to ponder while downing another turkey sandwich and another slice of leftover pumpkin pie. A new report from Deutsche Bank, an investment house, points out that mortality is creeping up on many of the coal-fired power plants in the U.S.

Nearly half of the nation's coal-fired generating capacity is made up of aging, inefficient plants, some more than 60 years old. If utilities can be confident that the price of gas won't spike up and down with abandon, and if the specter of Congress - some day, by and by - putting a price on carbon enters into their calculus, then utilities looking to replace geezer coal plants might turn to gas, renewables, and nuclear, which could drive down coal's share of U.S. electricity generation by more than half.

Here's the paydirt conclusion: "The U.S. is capable of almost halving its CO2 emissions by 2030 (up to 44 percent) through a secure and reliable fuel mix that is based on known technology that can easily be deployed at reasonable cost." Without a price on carbon.

Of course, a number of things would have to go right for this happy scenario to play out.

  • Utilities would have to be convinced that gas is a safer economic bet than coal for replacing their old coal beaters.
  • The Environmental Protection Agency would have to implement pending air quality regulations - e.g. mercury limits - without political interference from congressmen putting dollars and cents above public health.
  • Gas producers tapping shale deposits would have to avoid mucking up drinking water aquifers and stirring up implacable opposition from communities in the shale gas belts.
  • Energy efficiency would have to continue improving so as to tamp down demand growth.
  • And renewables and nuclear would need practical solutions to their issues; renewables with integrating a high level of on-again, off-again resources into the grid, nukes with their accumulating quantities of spent fuel all dressed up with nowhere to go.

Still, a promising take-home message is that market dynamics might go a long way toward lowering U.S. emissions, even if congressmen are content to spend their time and salaries over the next several years playing schoolyard political games.

And there's one more thing to ponder. Not everyone is buying it, but there are a few voices popping up from the wilderness arguing that conventional estimates of coal reserves overstate the quantity and heat content of coal that's still in the ground, which they say calls into question the assertion that coal will be cheap and abundant for decades to come.

China is clearly worried that its demand is outrunning its domestic supply; a recent Wall Street Journal article detailed talk in Beijing of capping domestic output, fretting over supply bottlenecks, and concerns about the lower quality of coal in frontier mining regions compared to older coal production regions that face depletion.

There are spots of tarnish emerging on King Coal's crown. As the end approaches for 2010, a thoroughly disappointing year for climate stewardship, the signs that all might not be well for dirty coal bear watching.

Air Pollution in Teheran (Photos from Mehr News Agency)

Emergency meeting held on Tehran's air pollution
Source: Mehr News Agency, Tehran

The invisible Milad Tower

An emergency committee meeting was held on Sunday to discuss the choking air pollution in the metropolis of Tehran.

Tehran's air pollution has reached an alarming level and according to the World Bank statistics, it has incurred around $3.3 billion in financial losses in the current Iranian calendar year (started March 21, 2010).

In the meeting it was announced that the air pollution in Tehran will reach a critical level on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Talking to reporters on the sidelines of the meeting, Tehran Governor Morteza Tamaddon said, "Nothing was approved regarding (declaring) holidays since we believe holidays will not solve any problem."

The government declared public holiday in Tehran on November 24 due to heavy air pollution.

Tamaddon added that 30 ratifications were approved in the meeting which will be discussed in the emergency cabinet session and the results will be announced soon.

He appealed to the citizens to avoid unnecessary commutes and encouraged them to use public transportation.

Health Minister Marzieh Vahid-Dastjerdi also announced on Sunday that there has been a 30% increase in the number of respiratory illness cases during the past few days.

She also advised old men, children, and persons with respiratory and heart problems to stay indoors.

Photos- Tehran suffering from pollution spell

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Air Pollution Alerts - November 28th, 2010

News & Information; Every Sunday
(Last on November 21st, 2010)

The Daily Green, November 28th, 2010
5 Factors Necessary for Cutting Coal Use in Half.

Times of India, November 28th, 2010
Air pollution death toll on rise in Indian Cities.

Payavand, November 28th, 2010
Emergency meeting held on Tehran's air pollution.

Manila Bulletin, November 28th, 2010
November is Clean Air Month.

CBC News, November 26th, 2010
2nd-hand smoke kills 600,000 a year.

Science Daily, November 25th, 2010
City of Vancouver Sets Transportation Records During 2010 Winter Games.

Xinhua Net, November 25th, 2010
China sets up real-time air quality monitoring network.

Wall Street Journal, November 25th, 2010
Shanghai’s Air Bad, But Crazy Bad?

Environmental Research Web, November 24th, 2010
Insight: observing air pollution sources from space.

Wireless, November 24th, 2010
Mobile communications combat traffic jams and smog in megacities.

Cause-Because, November 24th, 2010
Avoid-shift-improve: The transport sector is in for a spin.

Reuters, November 23rd, 2010
Air pollution exceeds safety limits in big Asian cities.

CNN, November 22nd, 2010
Mayors sign global pact to tackle urban emissions.

CASI, UPenn, November 22nd, 2010
The Road Transport Energy Challenge in India.

Live Mint, November 22nd, 2010
Replacing the traditional ‘chulha’.

Vietnam News, November 22nd, 2010
Kiln pollution continues despite deaths.

Daily Breeze, November 22nd, 2010
Ports agree to updated Clean Air Action Plan.

New York Times, November 21st, 2010
Nations That Limit Coal Use Export It to Feed China’s Need.

Hindustan Times, November 19th, 2010
Delhi tops India's fatal accident list.

DNA India, November 19th, 2010
Maharashtra Pollution Board ignores ‘smoky’ brick kiln.

Xinhua Net, November 17th, 2010
China's coal consumption to top 3.8 bln tonnes in 2015: association.

Shanghai Daily, November 17th, 2010
No worries over air quality after blaze.

Current, November 16th, 2010
Air Pollution: Silent Killer in the City.

Indian Express, November 16th, 2010
Delhi will need 370 km of BRT, more Metro lines.

Xiamen News, November 12th, 2010
Motor vehicles to be labeled with yellow & green signs in Xiamen.

MoNRE, November 10th, 2010
Air pollution high in HCMC, Vietnam.

MoNRE, November 10th, 2010
Lao Cai To Tackle Environment Pollution Hot Spots in Vietnam.

VACNE, November 1st, 2010

Ha Noi to move polluting firms.

Friday, November 26, 2010

TRANSPHORM: Transport related Air Pollution and Health impacts: Integrated Methodologies for Assessing Particulate Matter

A Major Research Project Funded by the European Commission through the Seventh Framework programme

It is known that human activity is a major contributor to air pollution, with influences from emissions, meteorology, climatology and topography modifying the quality of the air that we breathe. It is also known that air pollution can have a major effect on our health. Quantifying health effects of air pollution is difficult because of the complexity of the underlying mechanisms and the variable spatial and temporal distributions exhibited by the different air pollutant species. For effective pollution abatement measures to counter, or at least limit, the effects of air pollution on health, an accurate cause and effect relationship must be established between the pollution profile and the associated health impact. The interactions between the emission, meteorological conditions and physical and chemical transformation processes occurring in the atmosphere, mean that sophisticated computer models are needed to produce reliable predictions of air quality to support policy formulation.

TRANSPHORM is a pan European project involving 21 multidisciplinary organisations, specialising in air pollution, meteorology, climate and health from 14 different countries across Europe. The project aims to develop and implement an integrated methodology to assess the health impacts of particulate matter (PM) resulting from transport related air pollution covering the whole chain from emissions to disease burden. An important element of TRANSPHORM is its multidisciplinary approach to tackle the research challenges by bringing together physicists, chemists, meteorologists, health experts, computer modellers as well as users.

TRANSPHORM focuses on the impacts of particulate matter (PM) which pose a particular risk to health. A number of research avenues will be followed in the project with emphasis on particulate matter emissions from all types of transport modes, measurements of the concentrations and composition in European cities, modelling concentrations on city and European scales, estimation of exposure, quantification of the relationship with health outcomes, and the development of a novel integrated tool for researchers and users to assess the health impacts. In addition to incorporating state of the art models, the integrated assessment tool will offer flexibility by including a variety of modelling modules based on their complexity and application.

If you wish to know more about this project, and related issues,
please register free on the website
@ http://www.transphorm.eu/

Crazy Bad Air in Beijing?

A concerned resident of Beijing and fellow member of the sim-air list, Vance Wagner, compared the air quality monitoring data from US Embassy and Official stations in Beijing, for days preceding and following the "crazy bad" air days (reported in NPR and other media outlets) and here is what he has to say..

Link to the post


A few days ago, the US embassy’s BeijingAir Twitter feed, which automatically reports Beijing’s hourly air quality, made headlines across the web by announcing that the air quality was “crazy bad.” Although the wording was quickly revised to the more politically-palatable “beyond index,” the impact was immediate. “Crazy bad” air was all the buzz of the blogosphere and at social events over the weekend; I have a feeling “crazy bad” would make it onto Beijing’s Word of the Year list, if there were such a thing. MyHealthBeijing’s Dr. Richard St. Cyr even suggested “Crazy Bad” T-shirts.

In this post, I’ll look a little closer at the data behind the Crazy Bad incident to see what we can learn. The graph below shows hourly and daily data from the BeijingAir Twitter feed along with official air quality data from the Ministry of Environmental Protection (available here, Chinese only). For clarity, I show all data in terms of particulate matter concentration, not standardized index. (I’ve converted MEP’s reported API numbers to PM concentration; for background on the difference and methodology, see this post.) Note that MEP’s data is reported for a 24-hour period from noon to noon, which is why the daily data changes at noon each day. The break in the red corresponds to the BeijingAir Twitter feed not reporting any data for a couple of days after the Crazy Bad incident.

crazy bad

This graph reveals some really fascinating info:

1) The Crazy Bad spike on Thursday and Friday last week was both preceded and followed by gorgeous, wonderfully clean weekend days. On 11/15, the air quality was, by all accounts, “good.” By 11/18, though, the air pollution had steadily risen to what the US calls “hazardous“/”crazy bad,” and China calls “heavily polluted” (”重污染”). After the steep rise, the air quality improved just as dramatically; MEP’s reported PM10 numbers dropped 297 points – from 334 to 37 – from 11/21 to 11/22 alone. This demonstrates just how quickly the air quality can change in Beijing – both for better and for worse.

Why did it change so quickly? The start of the heating season on 11/15? Possibly, although that wouldn’t explain the sudden drop beginning 11/20. To be honest, the answer is probably less dramatic: weather. Most day-to-day pollution changes in Beijing are caused by changes in temperature and wind patterns. If there are a few days of static air, or light winds blowing from the southeast and trapping pollution against the mountains to the north and the west, the pollution builds up very quickly. I should find the time to post separately about this.

2) MEP’s air quality data tracked the embassy’s with reasonable consistency. This is actually encouraging; we should be grateful at least for some degree of accuracy and transparency with official data. There are some differences, but we shouldn’t expect them to track exactly. This is because the MEP data is an average of multiple sites across the city, while the embassy data is just a single point. Plus, they are measuring slightly different things.

In the past, we have seen situations where rapid and very short-term pollution spikes highlighted by the BeijingAir hourly readings were not reflected in daily MEP averages, but that doesn’t appear to have happened here.

(As I point this out, though, I should also note that I do not intend to make excuses for or to justify China’s current reporting mechanism. For the record, I would like to see at least three immediate changes to China’s air quality reporting: hourly release of data, more representative descriptions of health impacts, and some sort of real-time alert system for at-risk populations to avoid exposure.)

Lastly, a few data highlights for the numbers geeks out there (background on international standards here):

US EPA daily ambient air quality standard for PM2.5: 35 ug/m^3
Peak PM2.5 concentration reported by BeijingAir, 11/19: 557 ug/m^3

WHO recommended daily limit for PM10 exposure: 50 ug/m^3
China daily ambient air quality standard for PM10: 150 ug/m^3
Peak PM10 concentration reported by MEP, 11/19: 430 ug/m^3

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Is LPG Bad for the Air Quality in Indian Cities?

For a naive and non-scientist, it would be obvious that the liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) is a clean fuel, where ever it is burnt. Especially in the cities, it is the most common fuel for domestic cooking - it is expected to burn cleanly and the flames are free of the soot or other aerosols, which are immediately visible when burning coal or any form of biomass. There is also a small fraction of light duty vehicles (for examples, small cars and 3-wheelers) which run on LPG and was proven to be clean compared to their counter parts - diesel and petrol. Then, why is it that recent studies from national agencies declaring that LPG is the main culprit to the growing air pollution problems in the cities like Delhi, Pune, and Mumbai?

Hindustan Times on September 20th, 2010, released a similar note, questioning the results, which are not in the public domain, but being presented at international scientific conferences. The article reports
An IOC presentation at a seminar organised by diesel vehicle manufacturers said that half of PM 2.5 in residential areas of Delhi was because of combustion of domestic LPG. In industrial areas, it was as high as 61 per cent and at traffic junctions 40.5 per cent.

Is this even logically possible?
  • How can a clean burning LPG contribute to ~40% of the air pollution being observed in the city?
  • What is the fraction of LPG usage in Delhi compared to petrol or diesel or CNG to give 40-60 percent contributions to PM2.5, the most harmful of the pollutants?
Lets look at some numbers. The daily PM2.5 concentrations in Delhi average around 80-120 micro-gm/m3, at least twice the WHO health standards. If 40 percent of the outdoor air pollution is coming from domestic LPG combustion, then what is this contributing to the indoor air pollution in the urban houses? Are these results suggesting that the urban houses in Delhi are very hazardous because of the LPG combustion?

Is LPG not a clean fuel anymore?

Similar results were presented for Mumbai at the Better Air Quality Conference in Singapore in November, 2010, by NEERI - nearly 13 to 34 percent of PM2.5 pollution in Mumbai is due to LPG combustion?

Link to the presentation by NEERI.

How can once a clean fuel and most used domestic fuel be that deadly?

What is the science behind these numbers?

The CPCB study, which Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh has decided not to put in public domain, is likely to be the basis for India’s future auto fuel policy.

If these results are good enough to be presented at international conferences, why is this report not public?

Similarly, this is the kind of false interpretation of the results, which leads to think that we can put a vacuum cleaner in the air and suck up all the bad parts of the air and make it all better for us to breath.

What is source apportionment?
A number of source apportionment studies are conducted across the globe and a number of them are on-going. Technically, this is the most sound approach to pinpoint the contributions of various sources to the local air pollution. However, the methodology does have some limitations which can be rectified with proper planning and local resource information.

In short, this methodology starts with the sampling of pollution (what we breathe and what we monitor) on to a filter, followed by chemical analysis of the sample to identify the mass of various metals, ions, and carbon compounds. The individually masses are then statistically matched with source profiles (also sampled and analyzed similar to the air samples, but sampled as close to the source as possible). The last part is called Receptor Modeling; the end result of which is the apportionment of sources for the air sample monitoring.

Of course, the source profiles are wrongly selected or erroneous during their establishment, the results will be illogical or hard to support the real world observations (like above).

These links above also present a library of source apportionment studies conducted in various parts of the world (courtesy of the Dr. Judith Chow and Dr. John Watson @ Desert Research Institute)

Winter Stove Workshop - January, 2011

Winter Stove Workshop - January 22-26, 2011

Aprovecho Research Center is pleased to announce our 2011 Winter Stove Workshop. The five-day workshop is designed to provide agency personnel, policy experts, funders, future field technicians, and others interested in clean cookstoves an intensive course in the principles of stove design, testing, and use.

The workshop, more affectionately known as “Stove Camp,” takes place at the Aprovecho Research Center in Cottage Grove, Oregon (two hours south of Portland). Participants are encouraged to continue your learning by attending the international Engineers in Technical and Humanitarian Opportunities of Service (ETHOS) conference, held in Seattle that Friday, Saturday, Sunday.

In five days participants will learn:
  • Design principles for a variety of rocket, fan, charcoal and TLUD stoves
  • How to improve combustion efficiency
  • Heat transfer basics for getting more energy from the fire to the pot
  • Testing protocols for evaluating, comparing and improving stove designs using both laboratory and infield equipment
  • How to construct inexpensive ‘90% emission reduction’ cook stoves
Aprovecho Research Center has been applying proven science and state-of-the-art technology to stove research and development for 25 years. It is part of Aprovecho’s goal to help contribute to the proliferation of great cook stoves worldwide by sharing our extensive expertise with people such as yourself. To that end, we have hosted “Stove Camp” each summer for the past 10 years, and this is our first winter workshop.

“Stove Camp” (as featured in The New Yorker magazine) is a hands-on laboratory, and our teaching methodology is experiential. As a participant, you will work with Aprovecho experts and other participants to build four types of stoves, and then test your work. You don’t need shop skills to complete this workshop. Space is limited to 30 participants, so we encourage you to reserve a spot soon. Cost: $800 includes most meals.

Contact Aprovecho Office Manager Mike Hatfield at: apromike@gmail.com

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Air Pollution Alerts - November 21st, 2010

News & Information; Every Sunday
(Last on November 14th, 2010)

IEA, November, 2010
Contribution of Natural Gas to Sustainable Transport".

MoEF, India, November, 2010
Climate Change and India: A 4X4 Assessment.

The New Yorker, November 22nd, 2010
Uncomfortable Climate.

Chicago Tribune, November 21st, 2010
Lots of smoke, noise — but not much action on diesel engine idling.

Financial Express, November 21st, 2010
Sustainable solution for natural gas crisis.

Times of India, November 20th, 2010
Pedestrians should be the focus of transport plans.

Carbon Offsets Daily, September 20th, 2010
India to study impact of carbon aerosols on public health.

DNA India, November 20th, 2010
Experts urged for non-motorised transport in Pune.

CNN, November 19th, 2010
London's dirty streets trial sticky solution.

Vietnam News, November 19th, 2010
Environmental laws have to be tightened.

Rus Business News, November 19th, 2010
We'll think about coal tomorrow.

The Ledger, November 19th, 2010
Ozone Pollution: Killer in the Air.

Troy Media, November 19th, 2010
Carbon-emission schemes are going up in smoke.

CRI, November 19th, 2010
Heavy Fog Disrupts Air, Road Transport in SW China.

NPR, November 19th, 2010
US Embassy: Beijing Air Quality Is 'Crazy Bad'.

NeoTommy, November 17th, 2010
Tibet's Disappearing Glaciers Could Devastate Asia.

Press Information Bureau, India, November 16th, 2010
Deaths due to Exposure to IAO in Rural Areas.

Pollution Online, November 16th, 2010
Time To Prepare For Climate Change.

LiveMint, November 16th, 2010
Cutting red tape for urban transformation.

CNN, November 16th, 2010
Air pollution: Silent killer in the Kobe city.

Science Daily, November 16th, 2010
Earth's Lower Atmosphere Is Warming, Review of Four Decades of Scientific Literature Concludes.

Press Information Bureau, November 15th, 2010
Pollution Due to Sulphur Dioxide on Decreasing Trend.

The New York Times, November 13th, 2010
As Glaciers Melt, Science Seeks Data on Rising Seas.

Climate-L, November 12th, 2010
Ozone Meeting Concludes Without Progress on Low-Global Warming Potential Alternatives.

China Daily, November 11th, 2010
Industrial zones come clean due to green drive.

Xinhua Net, November 9th, 2010
Beijing metro to exceed 300 kms by yearend.

Xinhua Net, November 8th, 2010
Pollution levels in Chinese cities getting better.

Xinhua Net, November 7th, 2010
Energy reduction policies causes unexpected diesel shortage in China.

Economist, October 28th, 2010
Biofuels are back. This time they might even work.

The Economist, September 23rd, 2010
Brazil, long the world’s deforester-in-chief, is mending its ways.

The New York Review of Books, May 27th, 2010
The Message from the Glaciers.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

EU Calculates their Black Carbon Footprint in Arctic

59% of black carbon in Arctic comes from EU

Link to the Press Release, November 19th, 2010

The EU is responsible for 59% of black carbon emissions in the Arctic, according to an impact assessment discussed by a group of experts in Brussels on Thursday. It was conducted by the EU-funded Arctic Footprint and Policy Assessment Project.

The assessment looks at the EU's footprint in areas such as chemical pollution and fisheries. It shows Europe is also responsible for 57% of PCB-153 emissions. Other major impacts include imports from infrastructure-intensive industries in the Arctic.

Europe only contributes to 16% of total GHG emissions. It uses 24% of Arctic oil and gas resources, compared with 37% and 26% for Russia and the US respectively. But 60% of exports from the Arctic's infrastructure-intensive industries go to the EU.

"As a major importer of Arctic goods and a significant contributor to Arctic pollution, the EU has a critical contribution to make as Arctic states and neighbouring countries deal with both the costs and potential economic benefits as a result of climate change," said European Commission official Nicholas Hanley.

The assessment is a step forward for EU efforts to devise a comprehensive Arctic policy. The conference heard that the European Environment Agency wants to help establish a permanent Arctic observation network. The importance of the Arctic to the EU will also grow after Iceland's anticipated accession.

A number of proposals to cut Arctic impacts are put forward in the assessment. These include extending the Natura 2000 network and cutting black carbon emissions from diesel engines. The EU could also support minimum environmental standards for Arctic oil and gas extraction through a multilateral agreement.

Link to the summary of the assessment.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Air Pollution Alerts - November 14th, 2010

News & Information; Every Sunday
(Last on November 7th, 2010)

Live Mint, November 14th, 2010
Germany defends its cars over pollution.

My News, November 13th, 2010
CSE supports Jairam Ramesh on restraints on SUVs and dieselisation of personal cars.

Shanghai Daily, November 13th, 2010
Sandstorm fallout affects city air.

The Economic Times, November 13th, 2010
Greens cheer Ramesh's call to restrict big diesel cars.

Salt Lake Tribune, November 13th, 2010
Task force should consider health costs of using fossil fuels.

Reuters, November 12th, 2010
India Steers Full Speed towards Low Carbon Transport.

Net News, November 12th, 2010
UK First As London Trials System to Reduce Particulate Air Pollution.

Science Daily, November 12th, 2010
Satellites Provide Up-to-Date Information on Snow Cover.

The Guardian, November 12th, 2010
How Brazil can speak for both rich and poor countries on climate change.

Science Daily, November 11th, 2010
Cleaner Stoves for Developing Countries, Thanks to Heat-Powered Fan Design.

CAI-Asia, November 11th, 2010
Turning Asian Cities Into Livable Cities Emphasized During BAQ.

Financial, November 11th, 2010
ADB: $120M Loan to Improve Urban Planning, Services, in Bangladesh.

Business World, November 10th, 2010
Manila one of five Asian cities with ‘good’ air quality -- ADB.

The Guardian, November 10th, 2010
Geo-engineering: climate intervention is a dilemma for scientists.

IEA, November 9th, 2010
IEA Releases World Energy Outlook 2010.

Gov Monitor, November 9th, 2010
Singapore Outlines Effort To Achieve Better Air Quality.

ESG, November 9th, 2010
Campaign to Reclaim Bangalore's Commons.

Financial, November 9th, 2010
ADB's Clean Air Scorecard to Help Asia Reduce Air Pollution.

Railway Technology, November 9th, 2010
Vietnam to Negotiate with ADB on Metro Line.

Gartoo, November 8th, 2010
Are Polluting Factories in Your Region Affecting House Prices?

Bloomberg, November 8th, 2010
China's CO2 Emissions Must Be Same in 2030 as Now, Stern Report Says.

Environmental Technology, November 8th, 2010
China's air quality drops due to car emissions.

India Today, November 7th, 2010
High levels of pollution suffocate east Delhi this Diwali.

AFP, November 7th, 2010
China cancels free public transport for Asian Games after overwhelming response.

UNHABITAT, November 4th, 2010
New Network tackles Transport Research Challenges in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Sydney Morning Herald, October 28th, 2010
Chinese firms blamed in huge greenhouse gas scam.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

IPCC to Feature Role of Black Carbon !!

by Charcoal Project..

Speaking Tuesday at a briefing on Capitol Hill, EPA officials said that “black carbon” (BC), an important factor in global warming and major by-product of solid biomass fuel and dirty diesel emissions, would figure prominently in a International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report due out next year.

BC emissions can also seriously affect the health of residents in households that depend on burning wood, charcoal, animal dung, and agricultural residues for home cooking and heating - more here.

Previously on Black Carbon

Thursday, November 11, 2010

World Energy Outlook 2010 Released by IEA

The 2010 edition of the World Energy Outlook (WEO) was released on 9 November and it provides updated projections of energy demand, production, trade and investment, fuel by fuel and region by region to 2035. It includes, for the first time, a new scenario that anticipates future actions by governments to meet the commitments they have made to tackle climate change and growing energy insecurity.

WEO-2010 also puts the spotlight on several topical issues, including what more must be done and spent post-Copenhagen to limit the global temperature increase to 2°C and how these actions would impact oil markets; how emerging economies – led by China and India – will increasingly shape the global energy landscape; the costs and benefits of increasing renewable energy, the outlook for Caspian energy markets and their implications for global energy supply, the future role for unconventional oil and the crucial importance of energy in achieving the UN Millennium Development Goals.

Polluting Factories are Affecting House Prices in UK?

An infographic from Gartoo on "how much polluting factories are affecting the house prices in UK".


Taking data on the number of polluting factories in different areas of the UK and presenting it alongside data on average house prices, a trend starts to emerge. Areas in which there is a high number of polluting factories tend to have lower house prices, combined with a below average household income.

On Average, Every Additional Polluting Factory in Your Region Reduces the Average House Price by £800

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

BAQ 2010: Clean Air Scorecard for Asia

Post from the Financial, November, 9th, 2010


Asia and the Pacific must work harder to address air pollution alongside broader efforts to counter climate change, and a new Clean Air Scorecard developed by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) will help the region do that.

"We think it's critical to have a comprehensive air quality measure to allow governments to judge how best to tackle air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions," said Nessim J. Ahmad, Director of ADB's Environment and Safeguards Division. "And working to improve air quality will benefit everyone's health and productivity, especially that of the poor who are most exposed to pollution."

The Clean Air Scorecard, developed by ADB through the Clean Air Initiative for Asian Cities Center (CAI-Asia), gives an overall clean air score ranging from zero, the lowest grade, to a maximum of 100. It comprises three individual indexes: the Air Pollution and Health Index, the Clean Air Management Capacity Index, and the Clean Air Policies and Actions Index.

"While a number of indexes on air quality and environmental performance already exist, the scorecard is the first tool that gives a comprehensive assessment of management of pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions by countries and cities," ADB says.

The Clean Air Scorecard has been piloted in the cities of Bangkok, Thailand; Jakarta, Indonesia; and Manila, Philippines. The CAI-Asia Center is rolling it out for use elsewhere in Asia, including in the People's Republic of China.

"Failing to control air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions will spell disaster for the region, putting at risk the health of those living here and economic growth of Asia and the Pacific," Jitendra Shah, Advisor, Regional and Sustainable Development Department at ADB, told the Better Air Quality Conference (BAQ) 2010 conference, which opened in Singapore today.

The conference, with the theme "Air Quality in a Changing Climate," is organized by CAI-Asia in partnership with the National Environment Agency of Singapore, the Land Transport Authority of Singapore, the Singapore Exhibition and Convention Bureau, ADB and the World Bank . About 600 people are attending from around the region to discuss how to improve air quality.

Monday, November 08, 2010

World's Most Polluted Places !!

This is different from the world's polluted cities. The city pollution is different, most often clubbed with substantial emissions from the vehicle exhaust and dust. The list below is linked to coal consumption, industries, and how dirty it can get.

link to the original article and pictures, visit the SUN, November 6th, 2010


CHOKING smog, fume-filled skies and toxic soil - a deadly cocktail of pollutants alien to most Westerners. But this is the grim reality in Cherepovets, Russia, one of the world's most polluted cities and home to dozens of factories and their "chimneys of hell".

This week United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said, with more than half the planet's population in towns and cities, the world was living in an "urban century". And at a talk in Nanjing University, Jiangsu, he warned: "Seven of the world's ten most polluted cities are in China. Your environmental footprint is growing daily." Industrial pollution has made cancer China's top killer. Most of its major cities are covered in a grey shroud as more than 60 per cent of its energy comes from coal - the dirtiest fossil fuel. A 2007 World Bank study said each year 460,000 Chinese die prematurely from breathing polluted air and drinking toxic water.

Besides Cherepovets - and in no particular order - below we list ten of the world's dirtiest cities.

LINFEN, CHINA: In this coal-fed city, said to be the most polluted place in the world, birth defects are nearly 30 times the worldwide average. Homeowners refuse to hang out their washing because it will be blackened by lunchtime. Huge coal mines blanket the city in coal dust. Air pollution is at acceptable levels for just 15 days a year. Gas-fired heating has now been installed for 85 per cent of Linfen's four million population in a desperate attempt to improve the city's choking air.

DZERZHINSK, RUSSIA: Home to the Russian chemicals industry, for years the city was the main centre for making chemical weapons. City authorities estimate nearly 300,000 tonnes of chemical waste were dumped in the city since the Fifties, including deadly sarin, hydrogen cyanide and lead. One test of water contamination has been registered at 17million times the safe limit. Norilsk ... this Russian city is covered in smog as a result of the metal smelting complex Oleg Nikishin/Getty Images Women in the city have a life expectancy of 47 years and men just 42 years - the lowest in the world.

YANGQUAN, CHINA: A rapidly developing industrial city in the country's Shanxi province. Levels of air pollution are rated "extremely high" in the city which is hugely reliant on coal. The burning of slag heaps and the use of boilers in winter has also caused choking levels of sulphur dioxide.

DATONG, CHINA: Considered to be the Chinese coal capital, air pollution is often so bad that the sky is dark at noon when lunchtime traffic begins driving through the smog with headlights on.

SHIZUISHAN, CHINA: It was once described as the best place to make a film about the end of the world. The Chinese government blacklisted the city for pollution problems and told city authorities to shut down the worst polluting industrial plants in 2004. While considerable improvements have been made, there is still much work to do. La Oroya ... this Peruvian city is affected by lead, zinc, copper and sulphur dioxide pollution Martin Mejia

LA OROYA, PERU: A city of 35,000 people, La Oroya residents have been affected by lead, zinc, copper and sulphur dioxide pollution from the vast metal mining and processing in this area. Time magazine claimed that 99 per cent of the mining town's children have blood levels that show high exposure to chemicals. It was named on the reputable Blacksmith Report as one of the world's most polluted places - although five years of clean-up is beginning to have an effect.

XIANYANG, CHINA: The city was fined for polluting part of the Yellow River this year and is often covered by a thick blanket of dust and "heavy metal" pollution on the surface of its streets.

LUOYANG, CHINA: One of China's biggest transport hubs, the city is fighting its reputation for heavy pollution. Luoyang was listed as one of the most polluted cities in the world in 2003 when its air quality reached required standards for only 94 days in the year. The main pollutants were vehicle emissions, coal burning and industrial fumes.

CHANGSHA, CHINA: 2,000 authorities in the US banned zinc-based fertilizer imports from China after a Changsha factory was reported to have been discharging toxic industrial waste into streams and water courses that villagers used to irrigate their crops. Environmental pollution in Changsha has also become a serious problem, with the rapid increase in the number of car-owners.

NORILSK, RUSSIA: Norilsk, above the Arctic Circle, is home to the world's largest metal smelting complex and consequently is covered by terrible smog. Richard Fuller, of the Blacksmith Institute - an American environmental organisation that ranked the city amongst the worst in the world in 2007 - says: "There is so much pollution going into the air from this place that there is no living piece of grass or shrub within 30 kilo-meters of the city."

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Air Pollution Alerts - November 7th, 2010

News & Information; Every Sunday
(Last on October 31st, 2010)

American Thinker, November 7th, 2010
The Biofuels Scam.

US News, November 5th, 2010
5 Easy Ways to Improve Indoor Air Quality.

Phys Org, November 5th, 2010
Aerosol particles form in nighttime plumes from coal-fired power plants.

People's Daily China, November 4th, 2010
Vehicle emission becomes major source of China's air pollution.

Gulf News, November 3rd, 2010
India faces energy challenge.

Asia One Motoring, November 2nd, 2010
In China, a new licence plate rule keeps cars off streets.

Manila Standard Today, November 2nd, 2010

Makati City acquiring 14 more e-jeeps.

Indian Express, November 2nd, 2010
Pune’s turn for IITM air quality measurement.

Science Daily, November 2nd, 2010
Algae for Biofuels: Moving from Promise to Reality, but How Fast?

Science Daily, November 2nd, 2010
Every Person Emits Two Tons of Carbon Dioxide a Year Through Eating.

Science Daily, November 2nd, 2010
New Way of Removing Excess Nitrogen from the Environment.

DNA India, November 2nd, 2010
As Bangalore city grows, footpaths shrink.

World Changing, November 1st, 2010
China's Urban Low Carbon Future in Shanghai.

Shanghai Daily, November 1st, 2010
Clear blue skies ahead for Shanghai.

Science Daily, October 31st, 2010
Avoiding CO2 Capture Health Risks Is Possible.

Xinhua Net, October 30th, 2010
China's energy consumption to be kept below 4.2 bln tonnes of coal by 2015.

MoNRE, October 27th, 2010
Cement firms advised to downgrade coal.

MoNRE, October 19th, 2010
Taking Steps To Curb Air Pollution.

Switch Board, October 19th, 2010
The Business of Green: India Inc's Embrace of Low-Carbon Opportunities.

Indian Express, June 9th, 2010
Asia's Alarming Cities.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Blue Line Buses in Delhi are going Offline. What's Next?

"The Delhi government has announced a phasing out of nearly 3000 blue line buses from the streets of Delhi in the next few months. These buses will be replaced by nearly new 1000 low floor buses purchased to ferry athletes and dignitaries for the Commonwealth games."

First, I would like to invite you to see the photo essay of the notorious blue line buses of Delhi, by the Delhi Walla.

A review of what's next for the public transport in Delhi - a note from "Our Delhi Struggle", on November 2nd, 2010

Last, a view from the operators and passengers point of view - a note from Kafila "blue line saga" on October 29th, 2010

Friday, November 05, 2010

Better Air Quality (BAQ) Conference 2010 in Singapore - November 8-11

Better Air Quality 2010 will be held in Singapore from 9 to 11 November at the Suntec Singapore International Convention & Exhibition Centre. BAQ 2010 is organized by the Clean Air Initiative for Asian Cities in partnership with the National Environment Agency and the Land Transport Authority of Singapore.

A number of side events and training sessions are scheduled on November 8th, 2010

Theme: "Air Quality in a Changing Climate"

This year's theme reflects three key developments:

  • The growing relevance of climate change for air quality management. Climate change is receiving growing international attention and there is increasing evidence that air pollution interacts with climate change. Therefore it is vital to address air pollution and climate change mitigation through integrated policies and projects.
  • The rapid urbanization in Asia that requires a total shift in city planning. Over the next decades, hundreds of millions of people will be added to Asian cities. Rapid urbanization is putting cities under pressure to absorb additional inhabitants while ensuring that the air becomes cleaner, fuel use and carbon footprint are reduced, and cities remain accessible and livable.
  • The changing role of development agencies. Asian countries are developing rapidly economically, and thus are increasingly able to finance their own development. The role of development agencies is changing from being a financier to providing expertise and experience needed by developing countries to build their own capacity in developing their cities, transport systems and industries in a sustainable fashion.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Press Release: Clean Air for Delhi 2010 and Beyond Programme

This programme is implemented by Aria Technologies and Léosphère in collaboration with the Central Pollution Control Board.

The “Clean Air for Delhi 2010 and Beyond” programme is an advanced notification system on daily air quality developed for the National Capital Region of Delhi, through technical assistance supported by the French Government. The programme, started during the Commonwealth Games, is implemented by two French firms, Aria Technologies and Léosphère, in collaboration with and for the Central Pollution Control Board. It is designed to provide pollution alerts to the public and the media with the aim of minimising future instances of higher health impacts.

Mr Jérôme Bonnafont, Ambassador of France to India, introduced this programme which was presented by Prof S. P. Gautam, Chairman of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and Dr Armand Albergel, Representative of Aria Technologies and Léosphère during a press meet on Friday, 22nd October,2010.

The “Clean Air for Delhi 2010 and Beyond” programme covers an area of 52km x52km of the NCR. While the system is based on a modelling exercise combining the atmospheric physics of weather forecasting and atmospheric chemistry, the inputs include emission intensities from multiple sources contributing to air pollution. The data includes information from the existing monitoring network operated by CPCB and a laser-based lidar network deployed in the region. The programme provided 48-hour forecast on air quality during the Commonwealth Games and it continues its day-to-day operations under the leadership of CPCB in Delhi. When the system is fully established for Delhi, its replication in other cities may be considered.

Link to the Press release posted @ France in India.


Mr. Jérôme Bonnafont, Ambassador of France to India, & Prof S. P. Gautam, Chairman of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) interacting with the media

Mobile lidar monitoring provided 3D evolution of pollution during the Delhi Commonwealth Games 2010

Current air pollution forecasts for Delhi are here.


In the blog, on air pollution in Delhi

Articles from SIM-air working paper series on Air Pollution in Delhi

Power Consumption @ CWG Stadiums in Delhi

From Indian Express on November 2nd, 2010.


The Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium was fabulously well-lit in the days leading up to, and during, the Commonwealth Games. But the lights came at a cost, with the stadium having drawn up a power bill of over Rs 1 crore for a month. Here's a look at how much power major stadiums in the city consumed between September 15 and October 15, and how much it cost.

China's Urban Low Carbon Future in Shanghai

Article from World Changing on November 1st, 2010


The Shanghai Expo officially closed yesterday with pomp, circumstance, and a confirmation of the city as the planet's primary hope for a low-carbon future.

"Eco-friendly development and dissemination of renewable energy sources and new materials will influence the way we live and will lead the course of industrial development in the future," said China's Premier Wen Jiabao to the closing Expo Summit contingent of domestic and foreign dignitaries (eight heads of state), Nobel Prize winners and business leaders.

The World Expo, the world's largest in history with 73 million attending, for the first time in 159 years focused on cities, sustainable ones that is. China's plans for 350-600 million more urban residents by 2050 threatens to tip the earth's scales in terms of climate change and the economy so much that China is now focused on a fifth global industrial wave: the low-carbon or green economy.

"The low-carbon economy is a new industrial revolution," said Sir Nicholas Stern, Chairman of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics. "Low-carbon growth is cleaner, safer, far more attractive while high-carbon growth will kill itself. China is well placed for this industrial revolution."

Stern, author of the groundbreaking 2006 "Stern Review: the Economics of Climate Change", was referring to China's new national pilot program announced this summer by its all-powerful National Development Reform Commission for five low-carbon provinces and eight low-carbon cities.

One of the low-carbon cities, Baoding, for instance, within the last three years added 20,000 new jobs in wind, PV solar ( the city of one million is home to Yingli Solar, among other renewable start-ups), and other renewable energy technologies. It's also the site of large-scale energy efficiency and renewable energy installations in everything from building-integrated solar to streetlights. The new national pilot programs are expected to pick up the pace and provide a template for the rest of the nation's provincial and city low-carbon transformations.

Throughout its six-month run, the Shanghai Expo featured numerous forums on urban sustainability. Meanwhile, its pavilions employed many new green technologies in design and architecture. More than 500 new technologies in solar, heat pumps, energy efficiency, transportation and advanced material were developed as part of the Expo, according to ShiFang Tang, Technical Office Vice Director for the Shanghai Expo Bureau.

The massive China Pavilion and the country's "theme" pavilions on sustainable cities and urban best practices repeatedly and effectively emphasized how the challenges of climate change, pollution and growing consumer consumption can be met with more advanced urban planning, green technology innovation and citizen education.

The displays and creativity were the best I've experienced, anywhere, in terms of sustainability information, education and multi-media. For instance, one entire building was devoted to four real families living in the cities of four different contenents, Australia, North America, Africa and China. The exhibit demonstrated through video, waxed figures (the mostly Chinese crowds especially loved these) and other physical displays how each family lived and what they did for work, fun, and school. At the same time it taught people experiencing the multi-level walk-through how much each family consumed in terms of resources, even land, and how that impacted climate change; carbon or ecological footprinting education for the masses.

The takeaway is that China is serious about climate change as a threat to the world and itself, and it intends to capitalize on this inevitability with all its might. China's National Development Reform Commsision's low carbon pilot projects comprise 27 percent of the nation's population, and about one-third of its total economic output. The new low-carbon pilot projects span not only provincial and city planning and operations, but also industrial, economic and social planning, including education. In short, the whole ball of wax: "China will accelerate the model of sustainable development where nature, the planet and people can survive and thrive," said China's Premier Wen Jiabao at the Expo Summit's closing ceremonies.

It will be a tough path, indeed. Only one day after industrial controls were lifted that were in place for six months during the Expo in order to reduce regional air pollution, the air quality in Shanghai has already gone from crystal clear to disturbingly smoggy. As Stern pointed out to a rapt audience at the Shanghai Expo Summit, China will need to reduce its projected total greenhouse gas emissions from 35 billion tons in 2030 to 20 billion tons by 2050 if the world will have any chance of realizing the 2 degree Celsius maximum global temperature increase agreed to with the 2009 Copenhagen Accord.

China, if it continues on its current trajectory of yearly greenhouse gas emission increases, will by 2030, according to Stern, account for 50 percent of the world's greenhouse gas "budget" under Copenhagen while being home to only 17-18 percent of the world's population.

"New green investments will help China continue its lead in the green race that has already begun," Stern predicted. "Green policies are at the heart of the 12th Five-year Plan (the nation's economic master plan for the near future, a new version which was recently drafted), showing the world what is possible."

Meanwhile, Shanghai, China's largest and most cosmopolitan city, is deconstructing many of its Expo buildings for reuse in other parts of the nation, and also for other bidders outside China so that its Expo theme of "Better City, Better Life" gets a second and maybe even more lives.

Warren Karlenzig is president of Common Current, an internationally active consultancy based in San Anselmo, California. He is a Fellow at the Post-Carbon Institute and co-author of a forthcoming United Nations manual on global sustainable city planning and management.