Monday, May 30, 2016

Open Fires (Field and Forests) Increasing in India

Regardless of Delhi's status among the world's most-polluted cities, the quality of air we breathe is a nation-wide concern. With rapid urbanisation, and a fast-expanding economy, the demand for energy will continue to grow leading to further pressures on air quality.

Burning of agricultural waste in Punjab, especially paddy stubble, is a major seasonal source of air pollution in the NCR (and to a much greater extent in Punjab) in the winter months. Travelling through Punjab in November is like moving through dense fog, with very low visibility. It is estimated that every year over a million hectares of paddy stubble are torched in Punjab. This releases approximately 12 megatons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. NASA has been tracking this phenomenon and its satellite images show large chunks of Punjab to be on fire.

Air pollution has broader geographic ramifications because it respects no boundaries. It is a severe health hazard, causing respiratory problems and allergies. It also reduces visibility on the roads, resulting in traffic accidents and loss of life.

Read more here

Japan to Build 47 Coal-Fired Thermal Power Plants

Japan is pushing forward with plans for 47 new coal power plants, despite falling coal use across the G7, setting itself at odds with its economic brethren. A new report published earlier this month by climate diplomacy and energy policy analystsE3G includes its latest G7 coal scorecard, which shows clearly just how contrary to its fellow members of the G7 Japan is placed.

E3G is not the only one which has recently highlighted Japan’s counter-global coal plans. A report published earlier this month by the Sustainable Finance Programme at the University of Oxford’s Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment found that Japan’s future expanded-coal fleet could end up stranding $56 billion. This compares startlingly with recent news out of the UK which saw electricity generated from coal fall to zero for the first time since the first coal-fired generator opened in London back in 1882!

“Japan’s weak emissions reduction target and planned coal investments put it out of step with a world that is quickly moving low carbon,” added Taylor Dimsdale, Head of Research at E3G. “It is wasting its considerable advantages both in diplomacy and in clean energy technology. Japan should use the G7 summit to re-emerge as a leader on climate change.”

Read more @ Clean Technica

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Ahmedabad Traffic Cops Logging Personal Pollution Exposure Data

In the first-of-its-kind study, a team of public health researchers from the Indian Institute of Public Health, Gandhinagar (IIPH) and Sri Ramachandra University (SRU) have provided kits to traffic personnel loaded with hi-tech sensors which will measure the quality of air they breathe and the noise pollution they are exposed to while on duty.

The study is being supported by Natural Resources Defence Council (NRDC). "The traffic personnel's kit has a personal air quality sampler, noise dosimeter, and temperature data logger," says IIPH researcher Priya Dutta. Her colleague Abiyant Tiwari adds, "The pollution readings will be taken for 12 days along with the heat logger. It will explain how much pollution a person is exposed to on our city roads," says Tiwari.

Nearly 40 traffic police personnel have been selected for the study after due their consent was taken.

Beijing and IBM Using Satellite and Social Media Feeds to Forecast Air Pollution

While denying it in public until recently, the authorities have been aware of the problem for a long time: when Beijing was chosen to host the 2008 Olympic Games, they took major steps to reduce pollution levels in the city, halting constructions works, shutting down factories and power plants, imposing alternate-day driving rules. Read the full report @ Forbes

Those measures sure had a positive effect on the situation, leading the International Olympic Committee chief to praise the efforts, saying China had done “everything humanly possible” to reduce PM2.5 levels (which measure particulate emissions of carbon, nitrogen, sulfur, and heavy metals).

But such high-impact provisions are not easy to implement and come with a huge economic cost.Despite claims to the contrary, they ended up being more one-shot measures than a real solution, and the ‘blue skies’ didn’t last: just a few years later, things seemed to be just as bad as before, forcing the local government, in December 2015, to issue its first ever ‘red alert’.

While the problem is still far from be solved, then, a glimmer of hope for residents might come from a ten-year collaboration between the Beijing’s Environmental Protection Bureau (EPB) and IBM IBM +1.60%, a joint effort which goes under the name of “Green Horizons“. The project, which started in 2014, is focused on using IoT and cognitive computing to improve air quality management and forecasting.

“Using the machine learning technology developed for Watson, we take huge amounts of data from weather stations, satellites social media, in Beijing, and we can not only identify exact pollutants and their sources, but also create amazing correlations in the data,” IBM’s general manager of the Watson project, Harriet Green tells me. The forecasting window, with this new technology, has been extended from 2 to 10 days and the accuracy of the estimations jumped from 60% to 80%; this improvement was obtained, partly, combining traditional ground sensors information with data gathered from social media.

“Ground sensors actually are not enough to capture the whole picture of the pollution event, where does it come from, and where will it impact in the next few days. We use also data coming from the Chinese version of Twitter and Instagram to do some cross checking, and get a better understanding of the situation,” Zhang explains. A post on Sina Weibo or Tencent, a picture, a camera feed: everything is processed and analyzed.

Extra - Air Quality Forecasting in Delhi

Besides accuracy, the advantage of this cognitive, machine learning approach is that gives authorities some leverage to plan in advance which measures to take to reduce pollution and allows more targeted, tailored interventions than just shutting down more than 100 factories for weeks, like it happened in 2008.

More Cities Polluted in Nepal

Bhaktapur is home to over 120 brick kilns registered and operating under Bhaktapur Cottage and Small industries. A recent report of Leaders Nepal shows that air in Bhaktapur has become much polluted due to the brick kilns. An e-sampler machine has been installed at Putalisadak, Kathmandu, Siddhi Memorial Hospital, Bhaktapur, and Panchkhal, Sindhupalchowk to measure the levels of air pollution in various cities.

In the month of Baisakh, the average pollution level in Bhaktapur was recorded to be 83 microgram per cubic meter, and in Kathmandu the pollution level was recorded to be 63 microgram per cubic meter. The National Ambient Air Quality Standard has set a standard of 40 microgram per cubic meter to protect public health. However, frequent rainfalls in this season has caused pollution levels to decline.

Dhiraj Pokharel, general secretary of Leaders Nepal, blames the polluted air flowing from Kathmandu to Bhaktapur for the high levels of pollution there. Air flows from Balaju through Pokhrel added, “Another reason for pollution is low chimney hoods in factories today. The earthquakes last year destroyed all high chimney hoods, and only small ones remain functional.”

Dr Amod Pokhrel, a professor of University of California, said, “The main source of pollution is the use of partially burnt wood and coal as fuel, and smoke from vehicles that run on petrol and diesel.” Air pollution has a stronger impact on the health of young children and the elderly. Health issues such as respiratory problems, high blood pressure, and eye infection can arise due to pollution.

More news @ Himalayan Times

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Delhi Consumed More Power than Mumbai and Kolkata Combined (2016-May-20th)

The Capital consumed 6,044 MW of electricity on Thursday, breaching the 6,000-mark for the first time and becoming one of the biggest power consumers in India. As compared to last year, the demand has risen by over 20 per cent. Data from the State Load Despatch Centre showed that the maximum power load of 6,044 MW was recorded at 3:36 p.m. Earlier, at 2.34 p.m., the demand had touched 6,011 MW. Last year, it was 5,125 MW during the same period.

This trend indicates that Delhi is emerging as one of the leading power guzzlers in the country. “Delhi’s peak power demand is more than the combined demand of cities like Mumbai (3,700 MW) and Kolkata (2,100 MW). Chennai has a demand of around 2,000 MW, but Delhi’s is more than double of that,” said Praveer Sinha, Managing Director, Tata Power Delhi Distribution Limited (TPDDL).

Delhi also beats the power demand of Bihar, which has a population of about 10 crore. “Despite having lesser population, the Capital consumes two-and-a-half times more power than Bihar, which consumes about 2,750 MW of electricity,” said Mr Sinha.

Also, the Capital consumes nearly two-and-a half times the power drawn by the seven North-Eastern States put together (around 2,500 MW), and almost one-and-a-half times the peak power demand of Orissa (around 3.990 MW). Delhi’s highest power consumption earlier was 5,925 MW on July 11, 2014. While experts attributed the high demand to the heat and sound per capita income, authorities on Thursday urged residents to stop using non-important power guzzling appliances during peak hours.

More @ the Hindu

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Most Polluted Cities in the World (WHO, 2016)

Delhi is not the most polluted city in the world any more, according to the World Health Organisation's (WHO) urban air quality database released on Thursday. In fact, it now ranks 11th among 3,000 cities in 103 countries in terms of PM 2.5 (fine, particulate pollution) and 25th in terms of PM10 (coarse pollution particles) levels. This is though a considerable improvement since 2014 when Delhi was ranked the most polluted city in terms of PM 2.5 levels, WHO had monitored only 1600 cities last time. This time 1400 more cities have been included in the database.

Inforgrahic by Times of India

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Global Temperature Change 1850 to 2016

Climate science and climate politics have been moving unexpectedly quickly toward a broad consensus that we need to keep total human-caused global warming as far as possible below 2°C (3.6°F) — and ideally to no more than 1.5°C. This has truly revolutionary implications for climate solutions policy. Read the full article @ Think Progress

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Paris's One Sunday Without Cars Shows Up To 40% Drop in NO2 Pollution

Paris’s “day without cars” last week led to such a dramatic drop in both air and noise pollution that the mayor’s office is now planning more vehicle-free days in the French capital. Airparif, which measures city pollution levels, said levels of nitrogen dioxide dropped by up to 40% in parts of the city on Sunday 27 September. There was almost one-third less nitrogen dioxide pollution on the busy Champs Ely√©es than on a similar Sunday. Along the Seine in the city centre, levels were down by about 40%. At the busy Place de l’Opera, levels were 20% lower.

Bruitparif, which measures noise, said sound levels dropped by half in the city centre. Officials and environmentalists hailed the event as a success despite disappointment that police had refused to allow the ban to cover the whole city. The official intervention meant only 30% of Paris was off limits to vehicles. City mayor Anne Hidalgo, who has made reducing Paris’s worryingly high pollution levels a top priority, said she hoped to introduce a regular citywide vehicle ban.

Read more @ The Guardian

UP Governments Initiative to Curb Pollution from Brick Kilns is Half Baked (CSE)

Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board has directed the brick kiln industry to change technology from natural draft to induced draft within 90 days. CSE says the technology is inadequate and will not lead to reduction in pollution. Worse, because of erratic power supply, kiln owners will have to run a diesel generator if they shift to induced draft kilns -- which will add to the pollution. A clear technological roadmap for the sector needs to be developed, including changing over to fly ash brick manufacturing.

Delhi's Odd/Even Experiment Cannot be Permanent

Opinion Piece by Ms. Jyoti Parikh, India Express - Cleaning up Delhi’s air requires both short-term and long-term solutions. Typically, the control of a number of short-term solutions lies with the Delhi government, while long-term solutions require the Central government to act.

Odd-even cannot be a long-term solution for the NCR as the number of vehicles in Delhi alone, not counting the NCR region, is increasing at nearly 6 lakhs per year in Delhi alone, of which some 35 per cent are cars. Odd-even may have taken out at most 30 per cent of the cars of Delhi’s 28 lakh cars as cars on the road keep increasing and within a couple of years, even with odd-even, the cars on the road would increase. To reduce pollution, we need cleaner cars and much greater use of public transport, walking, cycling and improvement in the quality of public transport. The solution lies in a more comprehensive transport strategy and dealing with other sources of pollution. It requires actions not just by Delhi government, but also by governments of the surrounding states as well as by the Central government.

Europe's Problem with Diesel Cars

More @ The Guardian - New UK government tests confirm that diesel cars produce a lot more air pollution in real-world driving when compared with the legal tests. Those sold since 2009 emitted six times more nitrogen oxides, on average. Compared with the stricter standards applied to petrol cars, the average diesel sold between 2009 and 2015 emitted 19 times more nitrogen oxides.

In 2014, more than half of new cars in Europe were diesel, so solving our air pollution problems will not be easy. The Airuse project highlighted the role of taxation in car buying choice. All European countries, except the UK, have lower tax on diesel fuel compared with petrol.

Unsurprisingly, diesel tends to dominate car sales in countries where the fuel is most favoured by taxation: Luxembourg, Belgium, Portugal, Spain, France and Greece – where the ending of a ban on diesel cars in Athens and Thessaloniki in 2011 led to a boom in sales. India recently removed subsidies on diesel, but there is no sign of an end to the European tax incentives.

Air use also highlighted how the geography of the Mediterranean affects its air pollution, with shipping, dry dusty soils and dense city centres adding to the problems from a high proportion of diesel cars. The UK and other countries surrounding the North Sea and the Channel form one of Europe’s most densely populated areas. It also contains Europe’s only two mega-cities – London and Paris – which are separated by less than 350km. This makes action on traffic pollution the key to cleaning the air over our region.

How to Control CO2 Emissions @ Brick Kilns in India?

In what could possibly be path-breaking research to contain global warming, a group of Anna University researchers have developed technology to capture Cardon dioxide emitted from industries and convert it into products like construction bricks.

Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the most prevalent greenhouse gas that traps heat and raises the global temperature, contributing to climate change. Rough estimates suggest over 30 billion tonnes of CO2 being released annually into the atmosphere. With Tamil Nadu becoming increasingly urbanised with installation of many power plants and booming textile industry, researchers hope their new invention can be a turning point towards a low-carbon future.

Three years of research and hard work and scientific approaches on samples collected from power plants and textile dye industries went into finally converting CO2 into useful products like bricks and bicarbonate.

K Palanivelu, director, Centre for Climate Change and Adaptation Research, Anna University, told Express that technology can be adopted by major polluting industries like coal-fired power plants, steel and aluminium manufacturing firms to ensure there is zero discharge of CO2 into the atmosphere. The project report has been submitted to the Union government and the university is ready to transfer the technology to the industry. The research project is funded by Department of Science and Technology (DST), New Delhi.

India Plans to Shutdown 37GW (12%) of the Aging Coal Fired Power Plants

The plants are more than 25 years old and have turned uneconomical, said S.D. Dubey, chairman of the Central Electricity Authority, the planning wing of the power ministry. They will be replaced by super-critical units, which are more efficient, at the same sites, he said, without giving a timeline. “Our first concern is emissions,” Dubey said in New Delhi. “We also want plants to be more efficient in use of resources.” More @ LiveMint

The plan reflects Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s attempt to balance energy security with the need to protect the environment. Coal, whose use is declining in several parts of the world because of emission concerns, accounts for about three-fourths of India’s electricity generation and will probably remain the nation’s dominant fuel for at least two decades, the government estimates.

In December, the environment ministry issued norms to curb emissions, such as particulate matter, sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxides, from power plants amid rising concern over air pollution in Indian cities. The norms also capped the use of water by plants.

A majority of the old capacity—22 gigawatts—is controlled by provincial governments, while 13,000 megawatts belongs to companies of the central government, such as NTPC Ltd, Dubey said. About 2 gigawatts of capacity belonging to non-state producers is also being considered for shutdown, he said without naming the plant owners. Coal fires 62% of India’s 298 gigawatts generation capacity, according to the government’s data.

Friday, May 06, 2016

An Opinion on Delhi's Pollution Sources for Better Management

Is Delhi neglecting some causes and over emphasising on others? Does the approach need a change? Times of India reached out to scientists and public health experts to understand how strategies could be prioritised, and what the new approach could be. A majority of experts do not consider vehicular pollution to be the number one cause of pollution--road dust and poor approach to construction are rated as the top causes.

Delhi's Odd Even Experiment 2 - Analysis of PM Monitoring Data from SAFAR Program

Delhi's Odd Even Experiment - Analysis of Ambient PM Data by CSE, India

Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) has released its analysis of air quality data during the second phase of odd and even scheme – from April 15 to April 30. This shows that air pollution took a downward dip during the first 10 days of the scheme but registers a sudden spike from April 22 onwards. Read the full report @ CSE

Further investigations and analysis of NASA satellite pictures has exposed massive crop fires in Punjab and Haryana that started around April 19 – which could be the reason behind the rise in pollution levels. The CSE investigation was triggered by the widespread media reportage on the findings of India Spend that PM2.5 had increased by 23 per cent and PM10 by 22 per cent compared to the previous fortnight. This was also used by the automobile industry in the Supreme Court hearing on April 30, 2016 to claim that this shows that vehicles are insignificant contributors to pollution and therefore do not merit stringent action.

The CSE investigation has exposed how half-baked and irresponsible explanation of the air quality trend has led to misinterpretation of the benefit of the odd-and-even scheme and helped create the industry myth that vehicles are not the problem. India Spend and the industry have failed to catch the reason for the sudden spike in pollution post-April 22. They have missed the massive crop fires that started around April 20 and got intense over time and elevated pollution not only in Delhi, but in other cities of northern India as well.

Delhi's Odd Even Program Prevented Increase in Pollution

What is damaging is that in the absence of clear explanation of the reasons for the pollution spike towards the end of the scheme, this has led to the misleading conclusion that odd-and-even has not made any impact.

Benefits of Cycling and Walking 'Outweigh Air Pollution Risk'

The health benefits of cycling and walking outweigh the harm from inhaling air loaded with traffic fumes in all but the world’s most polluted cities, according to a study. An international team of researchers who have modelled the effects say only 1% of cities in the world have such high levels of air pollution that cycling or walking could make a person’s health worse.
“The good news is that across the world, in 99% of cities it is safe to cycle up to two hours a day,” said Dr Audrey de Nazelle from the centre for environmental policy at Imperial College London, one of the study’s authors. “That’s because physical inactivity is such a public health issue – it is not that pollution is not detrimental.”

In respect to air pollution, London is one of the safer cities in the world in which to cycle and walk, with the researchers finding it safe to do so all day. “Our model indicates that in London health benefits of active travel always outweigh the risk from pollution,” said Dr Marko Tainio from the Cambridge MRC epidemiology unit, who led the study.

“Even in Delhi, one of the most polluted cities in the world – with pollution levels ten times those in London – people would need to cycle over five hours per week before the pollution risks outweigh the health benefits.

Read more @ the Guardian

Delhi Air Quality Information

Registration of Vehicles After Being Retro-fitted with CNG Kits Rose by 15-20% in Delhi

Whatever the odds stacked against the odd-even scheme rolled out by the Delhi state government to curb air pollution, a positive fallout has been the rise in the instances of CNG conversions from petrol-engined cars in the capital city. Registration of vehicles after being retro-fitted with CNG kits rose by 15-20 percent during the recent implementation of phase II of the odd-even scheme with about 200 conversions to CNG witnessed against 150 reported on routine days, Anil Chhikara, auto expert and government official in the Transport Department, told Autocar Professional.

In terms of new sales of OE-fitted CNG vehicles, a major impact was not visible as this segment has been growing 20 percent annually for the past 2-3 years. About 150 registrations of factory fitted CNG cars are noted by the Transport Department on an average every day and these were more or less on track while the odd-even scheme was underway between 15-30 April as well. Hence the rise is more gradual and based on shifting customer preferences.

Interestingly, the front runners for the CNG retrofitment were small cars going upwards to the midsize segment with a sticker price of up to Rs 7 lakh where the Hyundai i10, Santro, Honda Jazz, Amaze and even the City were in the forefront. Maruti Suzuki, the country’s largest carmaker, has a stable of 6 models available with a CNG option – the Alto, Alto K10, Celerio, Wagon R, Eeco and the Ertiga. These are already selling large CNG volumes in the capital. Maruti sold over 59,800 units of its CNG fleet in 2015-16 compared to 58,000 units in FY 2014-15. The Wagon R takes the lead with sales of over 29,000 units, followed by the Eeco with over 11,000 units.

Road Transport Emissions in Delhi

Meanwhile a tete-a-tete with the CNG retrofitters throws some more light on the CNG fitment scenario in the Delhi-NCR. The New Delhi-based Namdhari Auto Engineering Works retrofitted around 25-30 cars during the 15 days that the odd-even scheme ran. Ranjit Namdhari, owner of the fitment centre, says around 2,500-3,000 retrofitment instances were undertaken in the region during this period overall. The CNG kit costs Rs 30,000 upwards at his centre and takes about 5-6 hours for a CNG conversion from petrol.

Read the full article @ Auto Car Professionals

Thursday, May 05, 2016

Jimmy Kimmel and Scientists on Climate Change

This was the message repeated quite a few times by various scientists (and a small child) on ABC's "Jimmy Kimmel Live" Monday night. Kimmel was moved to contact these scientists (and the small child) by Sarah Palin. The former Governor of Alaska does create movement in people. In this case, Palin had shown her support for a documentary about climate change denial. Kimmel tried to explain that when 97 percent of scientists agree that climate change is caused by the behavior of real human beings, it's likely to be true. More @ CNET

Sunday, May 01, 2016

Delhi Odd/Even Experiment 2 - PM2.5 Concentrations Before and During - Data from India Spend Monitors

Read @ First Post. Air pollution levels in Delhi rose 23 percent during the second phase of the odd-even registration rule, from 15 April to 29 April, over the previous 14 days (1 April to 14 April), based on an analysis of PM (particulate matter) 2.5 data, generated by IndiaSpend’s #Breathe air-quality monitoring devices.

One More Low Cost Monitoring Network in Delhi - Social Cops

Delhi is the most polluted city on earth. Traditional methods for measuring air quality can only take readings at one location. We deployed internet-connected air pollution sensors on five auto rickshaws in South Delhi. Our sensors are measuring air pollution every 30 seconds, with each data point from a different location on roads across the city.