Monday, May 07, 2012

Right to Walk in Indian Cities

Article posted in the Global Post - May 3rd, 2012

Millions more Indians travel by foot, bicycle and bus than travel by car, but you'd never guess it from the design of India's cities or the allocation of government funds.

A handful of interesting organizations are fighting for the rights of zero emitters, however. The Center for Science and Environment magazine Down To Earth reports that a number of groups, ranging from rickshaw pullers in the Punjab to bicycle crazy yuppies in Haryana are working to influence policy makers and change the way India thinks about urban infrastructure.
  • Ecocab’s Dial-a-rickshaw service in Fazilka, Punjab, for instance, is revamping the "outdated" bicycle rickshaw as a cutting-edge, modern form of transportation by focusing on its naturally eco-friendly qualities.
  • The Manipur Cycling Club, in the northeastern state of Manipur, is manufacturing bicycles from bamboo to simultaneously create a source of employment and encourage eco-friendly transportation.
  • The Namma Cycle movement initiated by Ride-A-Cycle Foundation has made free-to-share bicycles available around educational institutes and recreational sites in Bangalore.
  • And Rickshaw Bank offers a microfinance-type scheme combined with a cheaper, lighter rickshaw designed at the Indian Institute of Technology (Guwahati), in Assam, to free rickshaw pullers from endless rental payments to the cartel of rickshaw owners.
It looks like a long haul, though. Down To Earth writes:

Over the past decade, laws have banned cycle rickshaws from prime areas of many cities to make room for cars. Delhi is fighting a bitter battle to protect its 0.6 million cycle rickshaw fleet as Delhi Municipal Corporation (Cycle-Rickshaw). By-laws of 1960 restricted their number to 99,000 in ear-marked zones. The law has also empowered authorities to confiscate, crush and sell rickshaws if they are found plying without a license. But reprieve came from the Supreme Court when in its April hearing of the public interest petition it quashed the civic body’s bid and castigated it for taking away the right of the “weak and meek.” The apex court asked the municipal corporation, “Are you prepared to scrap cars? Impound those involved in drunken driving or even remove them from roads, say for a period of 10 years?”

In 2008, Kolkata curtailed bicycles on 39 key roads following a notification issued by the city’s police. It states that with a view to “providing safe and uninterrupted movement of vehicular traffic, we hereby order that no bicycle shall ply or remain standing between 9 am and 7 pm on all days.” Activist Debasish Banerjee of Kolkata laments, “It is ironical that while globally cities are bringing back bicycles and trams, Kolkata despite its rich legacy is letting them decay.”

Moreover, public spending is the opposite of green:

The National Urban Transport Policy has made the right noises about promoting walking and cycling. However its funding arm, the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission, has played spoilsport. Almost the entire booty so far has been given for roads, flyovers and parking structures. Only a few small-scale projects in smaller cities like Nanded in Maharashtra have seen some transformation of its footpaths and cycling paths. Currently, the Union Ministry of Urban Development is framing a public bicycle sharing scheme. But the Planning Commission has already argued against it, citing lack of funds.

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Air Polluion News & Alerts - May 6th, 2012

Environmental Research Web, May, 2012
Urban Transport in the Developing World.

Pan American News, May 6th, 2012
Iran, China to make electric cars.

PRN News, May 5th, 2012
Beijing Air Quality Data Now Much More Visible To Travelers.

Hindustan Times, May 4th, 2012
No study to check air above Yamuna.

China Daily, May 4th, 2012
Locking cities into low-carbon growth.

The Economist, May 4th, 2012
The limits of plug-and-play development.

Prensa Latina, May 4th, 2012
Chilean Capital on Environmental Alert.

CNN, May 4th, 2012
Smog-eating tiles gobble up air pollution.

RTT News, May 4th, 2012
China Called To Urgently Reduce Urban Emissions.

Global Post, May 3rd, 2012
GreenTalk: Indians fight for the right to walk, or bicycle.

Global Post, May 3rd, 2012
GreenTalk: Indians fight for the right to walk, or bicycle.

The Financial, May 3rd, 2012
A Low-carbon Path will Make Chinese Cities More Sustainable and Livable.

The Guardian, May 3rd, 2012
How bad is London's air quality? Find out using this interactive tool.

Voices of America, May 2nd, 2012
Aid Groups Meeting in Kenya Promote 'Clean Cookstoves'.

The News Gateway of Vietnam, May 2nd, 2012
Vietnam air pollution among the worst in the world.

Center for American Progress, May 2nd, 2012
Working Together for Global Clean Energy.

The Financial, May 2nd, 2012
China: 460,000 Xiangyang Residents to Enjoy Better Public Transport.

The Hindu, May 2nd, 2012
IFC to help Gujarat replicate rooftop solar project in 5 more cities.

Air Quality News, May 2nd, 2012
Defra study suggests progress on air quality is stalling.

NRDC Switchboard, May 1st, 2012
NRDC in the News 5/1: Disclosing fracking chemicals, killer air pollution, NRDC's vision for cleaner energy future, and more...

The Washington Times, May 1st, 2012
Air-pollution studies important for health.

Asia Sentinal, May 1st, 2012
Treating Asthma.

State Journal, May 1st, 2012
Researchers: Gas industry secrecy obstructs public health.

NRDC Switchboard, April 30th, 2012
NRDC sues EPA over inadequate plan to clean up LA's smog.

NRDC Switchboard, April 30th, 2012
Two new reports again highlight economic, pollution-saving benefits of RGGI.

UNEP, April 30th, 2012
The end to cheap oil: a threat to food security and an incentive to reduce fossil fuels in agriculture.

Wall Street Journal, April 30th, 2012
No Easy Scapegoat for Hong Kong Pollution.

UB Post, April 28th, 2012
New Bus Lanes Could be Fastracked with USD 279.9 million loan.

Business Daily, April 28th, 2012
Stoves project to provide clean cooking technology in Kenya.

Info Mongolia, April 28th, 2012
Proposal to Reduce Air Pollution in Mongolia was Introduced in Washington DC.

The National, April 28th, 2012
Chaotic Beijing motor show has ever-increasing global influence.

Phys.Org, April 27th, 2012
Polluting China for the sake of economic growth.

The Guardian, April 27th, 2012
China's great leap forward – into the supermarket.

The Financial, April 27th, 2012
China: 460,000 Xiangyang residents to enjoy better public transport.

The Hindu, April 27th, 2012
Make Delhi car owners pay three times more for parking.

Market Watch, April 26th, 2012
Citi to Purchase 1.17 Million Tonnes of Carbon Credits in Innovative Microfinance Deal with MicroEnergy Credits and Mongolia's XacBank.

Reuters, April 25th, 2012
China State Grid aims to sell $7.9 bln coal, power unit -sources.

The World Bank, April 25th, 2012
Curbing Air Pollution in Mongolia’s Capital.

4-Traders, April 25th, 2012
New Paths in Urban Transport.

EU Climate Action, April 25th, 2012
European Commission joins Climate and Clean Air Coalition.

Scripps Institute, April 25th, 2012
UCSD Researchers: Where International Climate Policy Has Failed, Grassroots Efforts Can Succeed.

Los Angeles Times, April 25th, 2012
SUVs are big in China.

Christian Science Monitor, April 25th, 2012
US air pollution hits 10-year low.

BBC, April 25th, 2012
London election: Mayors' air pollution records compared.

NRDC Switchboard, April 24th, 2012
Time to Help Power the World with renewable energy at the 2012 Earth Summit.

Shanghai Daily, April 24th, 2012
City to test homes for indoor PM2.5 air pollution.

The Hindu, April 24th, 2012
Govt. to free diesel prices; no such proposal for LPG.

EDF, April 24th, 2012
If It Is So Clean, Why Is White Stallion Trying To Rollback Clean Air Rules?

Business Green, April 24th, 2012
Is Boris’ campaign going up in smog?

Science Daily, April 24th, 2012
Do Urban 'Heat Islands' Hint at Trees of Future?

Focus Taiwan, April 23rd,2012
Develop smaller towns, not cities, to protect environment.
NRDC Switchboard, April 23rd, 2012
Dirty Secrets Behind the Campaign to Poison Your Air.

The New York Times, April 23rd, 2012
The Cookstove Conundrum.

Xinhua Net, April 23rd, 2012
Power-strapped China to see blackouts this summer.

People's China Daily, April 23rd, 2012
Beijing pollution plan 'falls far short'.

Mother Jones, April 23rd, 2012
Why Motorbikes Can Be Worse for the Planet Than Cars.

Oil Price, April 23rd, 2012
Rickshaws Run on Compressed Natural Gas Could Help Delhi's Pollution Problem.

IBN Live, April 22nd, 2012
Coming up, Innovation Centre for Climate Change.

The Hindu, April 21st, 2012
Court orders clearing of lanes for cycle-rickshaws in Delhi.

Science Daily, 20th, 2012
NASA Image Gallery Highlights Earth's Changing Face.

New York Times, April 18th, 2012
U.S. Caps Emissions in Drilling for Fuel.

The Hindu, April 16th, 2012
Plans to make Hyderabad pedestrian-friendly.

Times of India, April 15th, 2012
Kanpur city witnessing rise in respiratory ailment cases.

Times of India, April 14th, 2012
17,787 rickshaws have switched over to Compressed Natural Gas in Pune.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Nobody is Using Cookstoves !!

From the Atlantic Wire

Nobody's using those cookstoves that are supposed to save humanity. If a great idea falls into the laps of millions of households and nobody uses it, it doesn't count as a great idea, which is exactly what's happening with the cookstove movement. When studies found that indoor air pollution from primitive stoves was a leading cause of death in the world, the developed world reacted with clean cookstoves. What was supposed to be a simple, cheap, easy way to save lives, however, isn't working, as a new study has found nobody's using the things. Many aren't accepting the new stove into their homes and the ones that have are still using the old problem stoves. "This isn’t to say that indoor air pollution is not a problem, or that an improved cooking stove cannot be part of the solution. But rather, we just don’t have enough evidence that the stoves systematically improve health, particularly under real world conditions where people do not regularly use the stoves, and if they do, the use often does not perfectly follow the manufacturer’s instructions," explains researcher Rema Hanna. This type of thing tends to happen when science meets reality, though, as we learned from This American Life, which found a similar problem with mango farmers. [New York Times]

Pollution's making us fat. Environmental problems meet health problems in this latest finding, which links pollution to childhood obesity. Children of women exposed to high levels of chemicals called PAHs during pregnancy were nearly twice as likely to be obese at age 5, and more than twice as likely to be obese at age 7. "Not only was their body mass higher, but it was higher due to body fat rather than bone or muscle mass," explains researcher Andrew G. Rundle. The findings help explain why inner city obesity is more prevalent than overall obesity. [Columbia University]