Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Indian Govt. to Free Diesel Prices

Article published in the Hindu, April 24th, 2012


The government on Tuesday said it has agreed in-principle to deregulate diesel prices, but is not considering similar proposal for the cooking gas.

“Government has, in principle, agreed to make the prices of diesel market determined,” Minister of State for Finance Namo Narain Meena said in a written reply to the Rajya Sabha.

While petrol prices are market-linked, the government fixes the rates of LPG, kerosene and diesel, which results in a large budgetary expenditure on subsidies.

“There is no proposal at present to fully deregulate cooking gas price,” Mr. Meena said.

He said the government continues to fix the price of diesel in order to shield the common man from the impact of rising crude oil prices and the resultant inflation.

“In order to insulate the common man from the impact of rise in international oil prices and the domestic inflationary conditions, the government continues to modulate the retail selling price of diesel,” Mr. Meena added.

Global crude oil prices have surged since the beginning of 2012 on account of geo-political concerns in the Middle East and abundant global liquidity. The price of Brent crude rose to USD 120 a barrel in mid-April from USD 111 in January.

For the current fiscal, the government has made a provision of Rs 43,580 crore for oil subsidies, of which Rs 40,000 crore has been earmarked as compensation to oil marketing companies (OMCs) for selling petroleum products at lower than market rates.

During the 2011-12 fiscal, the government has paid Rs 65,000 crore to OMCs on account of under-recoveries, of which Rs 20,000 crore alone was for the January-March quarter.

High subsidies are putting pressure on the country’s fiscal deficit, which touched 5.9 per cent of GDP last fiscal and is pegged at 5.1 per cent in 2012-13. India imports about 80 per cent of its crude oil requirement.

The government targets to bring down the subsidy bill to below 2 per cent of GDP this fiscal and 1.75 per cent in the subsequent years.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Air Pollution News & Alerts - April 22nd, 2012

China Energy Group, LBNL, April, 2012
Potential energy savings and CO2 emissions reduction of China's cement industry.

Deccan Chronicle, April 22nd, 2012
Urban housing still a myth.

New York Times, April 20th, 2012
Attention Expats: Singapore is Better Than Hong Kong.

The Guardian, April 20th, 2012
Air pollution prematurely killing 13,000 people a year in Britain.

Mail Online, April 20th, 2012
Pollution from traffic, planes and power stations 'killing 13,000 Britons a year'.

People's Daily Online, April 20th, 2012
China vows more transparency in pollution control.

China Daily, April 20th, 2012
Beijing air quality ranks 3rd from bottom.

Manila Standard Today, April 20th, 2012
A penchant for superlatives.

Energetica, April 20th, 2012
We can eradicate energy poverty in India by 2020.

US Embassy, Mongolia, April 19th, 2012
Mongolians Can Breathe Easier This Earth Day.

Bernama, April 19th, 2012
News Analysis: Philippines's Ejeepneys Steer Country Towards A Greener Public Transport System.

All Africa, April 19th, 2012
Africa: Muthiah - Time Is Right, Time Is Now for Clean Cookstoves.

NRDC Switchboard, April 19th, 2012
Financial Analysts, Private Economists, and Government Forecasters All Agree: Market Realities, not EPA, Driving New Power Plants Away from Coal.

Climate Watch, April 19th, 2012
Thinking Long-Term About Power Plants.

Huffington Post, April 19th, 2012
Urban Air Pollutant Linked to Obesity.

Bloomberg, April 19th, 2012
China to Give Stimulus for Development of Electric Vehicles.

The Guardian, April 19th, 2012
Air pollution is killing Londoners and Boris is ignoring it.

Huffington Post, April 18th, 2012
In China, a Growing Call to Environmental Action.

Fierce Energy, April 18th, 2012
Next-Generation Vehicles: Addressing air quality, fuel and efficiency.

Phys.Org, April 18th, 2012
Analysis raises atmospheric, ecologic and economic doubts about forest bioenergy.

Huffington Post, April 18th, 2012
In China, a Growing Call to Environmental Action.

Wall Street Journal, April 18th, 2012
Singapore, Asia’s Most Livable City.

East Day News, April 18th, 2012
Solutions sought on soot as city suffers 140 hazy days per year.

CSR Asia, April 18th, 2012
Getting Our Priorities Right – Cleaner Air in Hong Kong.

People's Daily Online, April 18th, 2012

Air quality in Guangzhou deteriorates.

Peace Earth News, April 18th, 2012
Coal Ash: China's Forgotten Pollutant.

Mother Nature Network, April 18th, 2012
Air pollution may contribute to childhood obesity.

China Daily, April 17th, 2012
Air quality in Guangzhou deteriorates.

Bloomberg, April 17th, 2012
Drillers Say Costs Manageable From Pending Gas Emissions Rule.

All Africa, April 17th, 2012
Africa: Five Renewable Sources of Energy for Farmers in Developing Countries.

BBC, April 17th, 2012
Traffic pollution kills 5,000 a year in UK.

Science Daily, April 16th, 2012
Diesel Technologies Drastically Cut Emissions Under Real-World Conditions.

Science Codex, April 16th, 2012
Diesel technologies drastically cut emissions under real-world conditions.

New Scientist, April 16th, 2012
No need to wait for the clean air dividend.

Indian Express, April 16th, 2012
Carbon trading: MoEF launches pilot scheme in 3 states.

The New York Times, April 14th, 2012
Nigeria Tested by Rapid Rise in Population.

Science Daily, April 13th, 2012
How to Curb Discharge of the Most Potent Greenhouse Gas: 50-Percent Reduction in Meat Consumption and Emissions.

Huffington Post, April 13th, 2012
Clean Energy Investments Continue to Soar: Time to "Triple Down" on Renewable Electricity.

The Guardian, April 13th, 2012
Eat less meat to prevent climate disaster.

National Geographic, April 12th, 2012
Delhi Offers Cleaner Auto Rickshaws, but Residents Choose Cars.

Ecologist, April 12th, 2012
How green is your fuel?

Plos Blogs, April 12th, 2012
Increased Information Transparency is Needed to Fight Air Pollution in China.

Philippine Star, April 12th, 2012
Metro Manila's deadly air.

NRDC Switchboard, April 11th, 2012
How Clean Are Your Clothes? Pollution from China's Textile Industry.

China Daily, April 11th, 2012
Expats rank Chinese cities.

The Guardian, April 11th, 2012
Citizen journalism triumphs at China environmental press awards.

Nature, April 11th, 2012
Policy: Cleaning China's air.

People's Daily Online, April 10th, 2012
Guangzhou to increase PM2.5 monitoring sites.

Yale Environment 360, April 10th, 2012
China’s Ma Jun on the Fight To Clean up Beijing’s Dirty Air.

The Guardian, April 10th, 2012
How the internet is powering the fight against Beijing's dirty air.

China Daily, April 10th, 2012
To dump or not to dump? That is the question.

Caixin Online, April 9th, 2012
Sweeping Pollution Under the Rug.

China Daily, April 9th, 2012
Supporting sustainable urbanization.

Watt's Up With That, April 9th, 2012
Too many cooks spoil the carbon footprint.

The Wall Street Journal, April 9th, 2012
Study Questions Natural Gas's Environmental Benefits.

Sudan Vision, April 9th, 2012
Population Growth in the Arab Region (1-3).

Wonk Blog, April 9th, 2012
What happens to America’s coal if we don’t burn it?

Scientific American, April 6th, 2012
Grid Unlocked: How Street Networks Evolve as Cities Grow.

SEI News, March 27th, 2012
Concerted efforts needed to secure key resources for low-carbon future.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Vehicle Idling Problems in Delhi - Cars Moving Slower Than Pedestrians for 20% Times

Article in Times of India, April 16th, 2012

Is driving really the quickest way to get around the capital? New research shows that for 20% of their running time - 12 minutes every hour - Delhi's cars are no faster than pedestrians. An ongoing pilot study by the research group has found that a fifth of a car's traffic time is spent idling or crawling at less than 4 kmph due to heavy congestion on roads and too many signals.

"A car running at less than 4kmph is only as fast as, or slower than, a person walking. We are trying to understand how often cars run at such speeds. We found that cars crawl at 4kmph for almost 24 minutes in two hours of driving. The wastage of fuel is immense," said Sarath Guttikunda, co-director of

Quantifying Idling Emissions.

For the study, IIT students equipped with global positioning system (GPS) devices drive across the NCR at different hours to collect speed data. So far, they have logged 120 hours on the road travelling to Noida, Greater Noida, Gurgaon, Dwarka and across South Delhi. The plan is to collect data for around 1,000 hours of motoring. "We use an algorithm in the geographic information system (GIS) to merge data and map it," Guttikunda said.

The study was begun to understand how the city drives - its acceleration and deceleration pattern. "This would also give us an idea of real-time emissions and our exposure to pollution. We would get a clear picture at the end of six months when we complete the study."

While pollution is the greater concern, understanding how driving conditions affect motoring costs is of immediate interest. In an imaginary scenario with one million cars plying on Delhi's roads for two hours, 200,000 litres of fuel (petrol/diesel) would be wasted, as per the study. "Since 24 minutes of idling wastes around 0.20 litres of petrol or diesel per car, fuel worth Rs 1 crore would be wasted when one million cars are running," Guttikunda said. For the simulation, the price of fuel is taken as Rs 50 per litre (a rough average for petrol and diesel).

Environment expert Anumita Roychowdhury said, "Delhi is seeing frequent increases in emissions. These findings reinforce the studies that have been done at various traffic intersections where vehicles move very slowly". Roychowdhury, executive director for research and advocacy at the Centre For Science and Environment (CSE), added: "If our city gets so congested, it's (the pollution) going to be unsustainable and is going to aggravate public health problems. There are increased emissions, and fuel consumption is very high if the car is run at such a slow pace so often. This has been substantiated by many other scientific studies."

Anumita and Guttikunda said making public transport and para transit (autos/mini buses) more efficient and better connected could ease congestion.

See some analysis on impact of idling by Dr. Suvrat Kher for Pune, India.

Gulf News, March 3rd, 2009 - UAE loses Dh10.5b to traffic congestion.

Please turn off your engine, if you are going to idle for more than 30 sec.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Limit Coal Consumption to Clean Air in China (Nature)

To reduce airborne soot, organics and sulphates, tailored strategies for each must be established and coal use limited, say Qiang Zhang, Kebin He and Hong Huo.

The control of air pollution in China is in a race with the economy. The country has maintained an annual economic growth rate of more than 8% for years, largely through the energy-intensive construction of infrastructure such as highways, railways and cities. Between 2005 and 2010, China increased its thermal-power generation by 63%, pig-iron and cement production by 74% and 76%, respectively, and vehicle production by 220.

Addressing air pollution in China is a unique platform for researchers in atmospheric chemistry. Many scientific issues — such as secondary organic aerosol formation — remain to be explored. Practical control technologies for ultrafine particles and volatile organic compounds must be developed. Multinational collaboration is urgently needed; the government should make funds available to bring outstanding international scientists to China to help combat its air-pollution challenges. We all stand to benefit.

Download the full article @ Nature, April 11th, 2012

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Congestion Points Choking Delhi Traffic

Article Published in Mail Today, April 11th, 2012

It was the first showers of this summer and while it brought relief, it also caused agony to thousands of commuters who got stranded in traffic snarls that lasted for more than an hour.

A combination of three weather systems resulted in Tuesday’s showers. The city woke up to a pleasant morning as several areas experienced light showers. Though the temperature rose during the day, darkness descended around 4.30 in the afternoon as a dust storm enveloped the city and surrounding areas and brought more showers.

But those on the streets had little to cheer about. People returning home from office got stuck in traffic snarls. Traffic police officials said the signals at some places went out of gear bringing traffic to a halt.

A lengthy queue was noticed at Panchkuian road as the traffic signal at Jhandewalan roundabout failed to work. Water- logging at Dhaula Kuan, Kashmere Gate, Minto Road and some other places were also reported, forcing traffic to move slowly.

Areas around Ashram, Connaught Place, South Extension, Hauz Khas, Vikaspuri and Sahadara also witnessed traffic snarls during the evening rush hour.

Abrupt rains also caused disruption at the Indira Gandhi International Airport. A DIAL spokesperson said several flights had to be diverted or delayed because of the sudden dust storm and showers.

“ A total of 18 flights were diverted and about 40 flights delayed because of the rains,” the spokesperson said.

The maximum temperature recorded on Tuesday was 37.8 degree Celsius — a degree below Monday’s high — while the minimum was 22.3 degrees. The met department said 4.2 millimetres of rainfall was recorded from 8.30am to 5.30pm.

Explaining the reason behind the showers, M. Doraisamy, a scientist at the India Meteorological Department, said: “ There is a cyclonic circulation over Haryana and neighbourhood which is spreading through Uttar Pradesh. There is another system in the form of western disturbance over north Pakistan and adjoining Jammu and Kashmir. The third system is the north- south trough from Chhattisgarh to south Tamil Nadu, across Telangana.” Together, they seem to be responsible for bringing some relief.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Biomass 'Insanity' May Threaten EU Carbon Targets

From Mr. Lalloobhoy Battliwala

"Around half of the EU’s target for providing 20% of energy from renewable sources by 2020 will be made up by biomass energy from sources such as wood, waste and agricultural crops and residues, according to EU member states’ national action plans.

Wood makes up the bulk of this target and is counted by the EU as ‘carbon neutral’, giving it access to subsidies, feed-in tariffs and electricity premiums at national level.

But because there is a time lag between the carbon debt that is created when a tree is cut down, transported and combusted – and the carbon credit that occurs when a new tree has grown to absorb as much carbon as the old one – biomass will increase atmospheric CO2 concentrations in the interim.
Where were these folks the last 15 years??? Rather, for all their post-middle school years?

And of course, they possibly haven't heard of Kirk Smith. Even if EU folks don't burn their wood in open, inefficient fires, I am sure it's not all in power plants either.

Oh, well. I thought boreal forests are net warmers (since they reduce the albedo effect by reducing snow exposure as they expand). Perhaps European forests should be converted into charcoal and exported to Africa, where forests will re-grow faster and have a real sink contribution. "Renewable biomass" means you can grow it anywhere.

Article was published on Euractiv, April 2nd, 2012
Biomass "Insanity" May Threathen EU's Carbon Targets

The EU’s emissions reduction target for 2020 could be facing an unlikely but grave obstacle, according to a growing number of scientists, EU officials and NGOs: the contribution of biomass to the EU’s renewable energy objectives for 2020.

On 29 March, a call was launched at the European Parliament for Brussels to reconsider its carbon accounting rules for biomass emissions, and EurActiv has learned that the issue is provoking widespread alarm in policy-making circles.

“We’re paying people to cut their forests down in the name of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and yet we are actually increasing them. No-one is apparently bothering to do any analysis about this,” one Brussels insider told EurActiv.

“They’re just sleepwalking into this insanity,” he added.

Around half of the EU’s target for providing 20% of energy from renewable sources by 2020 will be made up by biomass energy from sources such as wood, waste and agricultural crops and residues, according to EU member states’ national action plans.

Wood makes up the bulk of this target and is counted by the EU as ‘carbon neutral’, giving it access to subsidies, feed-in tariffs and electricity premiums at national level. 

But because there is a time lag between the carbon debt that is created when a tree is cut down, transported and combusted – and the carbon credit that occurs when a new tree has grown to absorb as much carbon as the old one – biomass will increase atmospheric CO2 concentrations in the interim.

Carbon neutrality

“It is wrong to assume that bio-energy is ‘carbon neutral’ by definition, it depends what you replace it with” Professor Detlef Sprinz, the Chairman of the independent Scientific Committee advising the European Environment Agency (EEA) told EurActiv.

“If you replace a growing forest by energy crops under the current accounting rules of the EU, you may very well increase greenhouse gas emissions.”
An opinion of the EEA's Scientific Committee last September, argued that “legislation that encourages substitution of fossil fuels by bioenergy, irrespective of the biomass source, may even result in increased carbon emissions – thereby accelerating global warming.”

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) also says that biomass can only be considered carbon neutral if all land use impacts have been considered first.

The EU is aware of the issue and a proposal that could impose binding criteria for biomass for energy production, delayed many times, had been expected later this year but may be delayed again.

Forest-rich Scandinavian countries oppose binding biomass criteria – Finland and Sweden produce 20% and 16% of their energy from biomass – while industrial interests tend to support criteria that ignore combustion emissions and carbon stock losses from burning wood.

Sustainability criteria are one climate area in which the US leads Europe. The Environmental Protection Agency there has already conducted a public consultation on how to account for emissions from biomass burning, and submitted a legislative proposal.

EU despair

Several EU officials spoken to by EurActiv expressed despair at the lack of enthusiasm for tougher accounting rules by the EU’s energy directorate, which holds the biomass portfolio.

“I don’t think they have any intention of considering the carbon emissions from wood combustion. They are not convinced that it’s an important enough issue,” one said.

Asked whether the current pattern of biomass production and use would prevent a 20% reduction of carbon emissions by 2020, he replied “the certainty is 100% because there is hardly any [wood-based] biomass that wouldn’t increase emissions. The question is for how long?”

There are no reliable accounting figures measuring the length of time that Europe will suffer a ‘carbon deficit’ caused by the use of biomass for energy, in particular harvesting timber for that.

But “the risk of having emissions for too long I think is very high,” the official said. “I see a very significant risk that we will increase emissions for several decades to come.”

Carbon deficit

There is consensus that when a carbon deficit extends beyond 30-50 years, it is no longer of use in the EU's present strategy to decarbonise Europe by 2050.

One report last month by the US-based Southern Environmental Law Center using woody biomass for a modelled expansion of power generation, found that it would take 35-50 years to provide an ongoing carbon reduction benefit.

Biomass from composted waste or agricultural residues is a highly efficient way of reducing carbon
emissions, but critics say that the EU has vague and ill-conceived definitions of what constitutes residue in many cases.

It does not, for instance, take into account the impact that removing crop residues such as straw can have in depleting the soil's carbon stock, with resulting increases in fertiliser and irrigation use, and lower yields.

Equally, a felled tree instantly produces wood with a higher carbon footprint than coal because burning a 100-year-old tree will release all the carbon it has absorbed into the atmosphere, and it its replacement will take 100 years to reabsorb the same amount of carbon.

The EU’s current accounting rules do not distinguish between residues or woods used in this way, and more sustainable biomass, terming them both ‘carbon neutral’ without consideration of bio-recovery times .

“These calculations have just not been done,” an EU source told EurActiv. “No one has looked at this in sufficient seriousness.”

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Air Pollution News & Alerts - April 8th, 2012

NDTV Profit, April 8th, 2012
Five ways to escape fuel price hike.

China Daily, April 8th, 2012
Supporting sustainable urbanization.

Vietnam News, April 8th, 2012
Air pollution threatens national health in Vietnam.

The LiveMint, April 6th, 2012
Extension of emission norms hits hurdle.

Scientific American, April 6th, 2012
Different Strokes: New Lower-Pollution Auto Rickshaw Engines Could Save Lives, Curb Climate Change.

International Business Line, April 6th, 2012
Air Pollution in China: Government Air Quality Figures Questioned.

China Daily, April 5th, 2012
Clearing the air using Air Filters.

Bretton Woods, April 5th, 2012
World Bank backs dirty energy despite objections.

MSN Autos, April 4th, 2012
Gasoline-Free Breathing, 1 Car at a Time.

The Hindu, April 3rd, 2012
BRTS trial run in a week in Vijayawada.

Huffington Post, April 3rd, 2012
EPA Proposes Historic Industrial Carbon Pollution Standards.

Jakarta Post, April 3rd, 2012
The oil party is not over yet, next is energy security.

Euractiv, April 2nd, 2012
Biomass 'insanity' may threaten EU carbon targets.

China Daily, April 2nd, 2012
Green rooftops help clean up Beijing's air.

UB Post, April 2nd, 2012As the smoke settles, dust rises.

China Daily, April 2nd, 2012
Green rooftops help clean up Beijing's air.

The Economic Times, April 2nd, 2012
Delhi air quality was worst in March.

Science Daily, April 2nd, 2012
Fertilizer Use Responsible for Increase in Nitrous Oxide in Atmosphere.

The Guardian, April 2nd, 2012
Interactive: how would a rise in sea-level affect US cities?

The Guardian, April 2nd, 2012
Do temperature records reliably show the planet is warming?

The Guardian, April 2nd, 2012
The domestic energy use map of Britain.

The City Fix, April 2nd, 2012
BRT by the Numbers: New Database Launched.

China Dialogue, April 2nd, 2012
Chinese power, Burmese politics.

Scientific American, April 2nd, 2012
A Tour of the New Geopolitics of Global Warming.

City Journal, March 31st, 2012
Selective subsidies needed.

Focus Taiwan, March 31st, 2012
Dust storms may affect air quality over weekend.

Financial Express, March 31st, 2012
Brick kilns: Pollution, advance technologies and carbon credits.

The Guardian, March 30th, 2012
Which mayoral candidate will tackle London's air pollution?

Scientific American, March 29th, 2012
Compressed-Air Car Winds Way to Market.

The Wall Street Journal, March 29th, 2012
Is China Headed for Oil Addiction?

ASEAN China, March 29th, 2012
Philippine gov't strengthens air quality monitoring.

Environmental Research Web, March 29th, 2012
Time to act: the opportunity to simultaneously mitigate air pollution and climate change.

Science Daily, March 29th, 2012
Electricity and Carbon Dioxide Used to Generate Alternative Fuel.

China Daily, March 28th, 2012
Beijing tackles dust at construction sites.

EU Net, March 28th, 2012
Cobenefits of climate and air pollution regulations.

Bloomberg, March 28th, 2012
China Beats U.S. With Power From Coal Processing Trapping Carbon.

Indian Express, March 28th, 2012
Get on the Bangalore bus.

Pune Mirror, March 28th, 2012
BRTS Corridor Dividers Demolished in Pune.

Eurek Alert, March 27th, 2012
Air pollution from trucks and low-quality heating oil may explain childhood asthma hot spots.

Science Daily, March 26th, 2012
Air Pollution from Trucks and Low-Quality Heating Oil May Explain Childhood Asthma Hot Spots.

Xinhua Net, March 26th, 2012
China's urbanization leaves rural land unattended.

China Daily, March 26th, 2012
Beijing: Residents could share taxis.

Vietnam Net, March 26th, 2012
No one takes responsibility for dirty air.

Global Times, March 26th, 2012
Emergency plan for city’s bad air days in Beijing.

Scientific American, March 22nd, 2012
Power Plants: Could a Rechargeable Battery Be Made from Paper and Pulp By-Products?

China Dialogue, March 21st, 2012
Sizing the carbon bubble.

Vietnam Net, March 5th, 2012
Mining sector seeks solutions.

MoNRE, March 2nd, 2012
Steel plants polluting residential area in Quang Nam Province.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

The Island President (Documentary)

The Island President tells the story of President Mohamed Nasheed of the Maldives, a man confronting a problem greater than any other world leader has ever faced--the literal survival of his country and everyone in it.