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How power can be cleaned

Issue Date: Mar 31, 2015
Coal is an environmentalist’s bugbear. The use of coal to generate energy is the key reason the world is looking at a catastrophic future because of climate change. Recognising this, global civil society has given a rousing call for coal divestment, asking companies, universities and individuals to stop investment in coal thermal power plants. They want coal to go, renewables to be in. And in the interim, clean gas, also a fossil fuel, to be used as a “bridge fuel”. In this scenario any talk of “cleaning” coal to make it less damaging is untenable.

Walk the talk on carbon tax, Mr Finance Minister

Issue Date: Mar 15, 2015
Budget 2015, presented by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, has a first. In it, India has accepted that it has a de-facto carbon tax—on petroleum products and dirty coal. Arguably, the only big green initiative of this budget is the increase of cess on coal—from Rs 100 per tonne to Rs 200 per tonne. But the question is: is this carbon tax, imposed on the carbon content of fuel, doing what it should—reduce greenhouse gas emissions that are responsible for climate change?

Straw in the wind

Issue Date: Feb 28, 2015
What does the decision to save groundwater in Punjab or Haryana have to do with air pollution in Delhi? Plenty. We need to know this because many actions have unintended and deadly consequences.

Time for new environmentalism

Issue Date: Feb 15, 2015
2014 has brought India’s environmental movement to a crossroad. On the one hand, there is a greater acceptance of our concerns, but on the other hand, there is also growing resistance against the required action. More importantly, every indicator shows that things on the ground are getting worse. Our rivers are more polluted, more garbage is piling up in our cities, air is increasingly toxic and hazardous waste is just dumped, not managed. Worse, people who should have been in the front line of protection are turning against the environment.

Real pride of ancient indian science

Issue Date: Jan 31, 2015
I write this with considerable impatience and one question. Do we really have the time to waste on controversies like what ancient India did or did not achieve by way of scientific discoveries? This is when there is the huge unfinished agenda to use the best of science to tackle current challenges and crises.

India’s climate strategy needs revision

Issue Date: Jan 15, 2015
Climate change negotiations are by now predictable. The already-industrialised come to each conference of the parties (COP) with a clear game plan, that is, to erase their contribution to the emissions already present in the atmosphere, thereby effectively remove the differentiation between their responsibility and that of the rest of the world to act. This would rewrite the 1992 convention on climate change and let them evade the obligation to provide funds and technology for action in the developing world.

So that we can breathe easy

Issue Date: Dec 31, 2014
  See also:  Video The toxic air we breathe in Delhi Related Article People in Delhi exposed to much higher levels of air toxins than estimated: CSE  

US-China climate deal: Maker or breaker?

Issue Date: Dec 15, 2014
In my previous article I wrote that India should demand an ambitious climate change deal, because we need the world to stay safe—below the guardrail of 2°C rise in temperature. I also said that for the deal to be effective, it is necessary to ensure that every country has the right to development but within the planetary limits. In other words, we must operationalise equity, a prerequisite for global cooperation on climate change.

Last call to get climate deal right

Issue Date: Nov 30, 2014
The Indian government must not use “equity” to block climate change negotiations. It must be proactive on equity and put forward a position on how to operationalise the sharing of the carbon budget—accounting for countries’ contribution to past emissions and allocating future space—in climate talks.

Making sense of green building rating

Issue Date: Nov 15, 2014
The building sector is set to grow exponentially. It already has a huge environmental footprint, with the domestic and commercial sectors consuming some 30 per cent of India’s electricity. So, the imperative to go green is clear. The question is where India is and where it should go. The Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) has issued the Energy Conservation Building Code (ECBC) to improve the energy performance of buildings by 40-60 per cent. But the use of the code in design is not linked to the actual performance of the building after it has been commissioned.
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