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Gore and Inhofe, United at Last

Climate policy can make for strange bedfellows – perhaps none as strange as the former vice president and Republican senator from Oklahoma, whose views on most issues could not be more divergent. Yet on one issue – related to climate change, no less – they agree: black carbon, or, as it’s more commonly known, “soot,” is a dangerous pollutant that deserves more study.

In fact, Inhofe considered it a grave enough threat that he recently co-sponsored a bill with Democratic Senators Carper, Boxer and Kerry to prod the EPA into studying the health and global warming impacts of black carbon emissions.

And while the insufferable Oklahoman may insist that his support for the legislation in no way contradicts his established denier bona fides – for good measure, he unleashed a typically scathing critique of the Obama administration’s proposed environmental policies the same day the bill was introduced – there is no denying that black carbon, the product of fossil fuel consumption and biomass burning, is a major agent of climate change.

Nature throws one-two punch at global warming

Reducing greenhouse emissions won’t be enough to stop global warming.

Three respected climate experts made the troubling argument in Nature that changing light bulbs, carbon taxes and cap-and-trade systems will have little impact because warming is already greater than anticipated and set to go much higher.

So much so, in fact, that we’re going to have to find new technology to bail us out.

DeSmogBlog reader's comment prods thinking on World Bank coal-plant loan

My post about the World Bank loaning India $450 million to build a new coal-fired power plant prompted a DeSmog reader to ask if I’m “against the idea of a plant that has less pollution than previous ones?”

I’m not opposed to a less-polluting plant. As a committed opponent of global warming and greenhouse-gas emissions, I’m certainly in favor of reducing pollution.

But the plant in question is going to be burning coal.

World Bank group loans India $450 million for massive coal-power project

A press release says funding the huge Tata Power project will help to expand electricity use across five states in western and northern India. This is in keeping with the “higher energy use” sought under “the development goals of the Bank Group and our client countries.”

While the release did say the bank group will try “to balance these energy needs with concerns about climate change,” it also cautioned that “fossil fuels are likely to remain a key contributor to the world’s electricity needs.”

Uh-oh!

Global warming threatens millions in teeming South Asia, study finds

About 125 million people could be made homeless by rising sea levels due to a projected four-to-five degrees Celsius increase in global temperature this century.

Research released by Greenpeace said Bangladesh, Pakistan and India have almost 130 million people living in the coastal zone most vulnerable to sea-level rise, erosion and drought.

The study comes at a time of rapid growth throughout South Asia, not only in energy consumption but also population. Not surprisingly, nobody is suggesting cutbacks on either front.

Bush fiddles with global warming in State of the Union finale

It’s tempting, but most certainly optimistic, to view President Bush’s 2008 State of the Union as his last gasp at blocking progress on global warming. He will, after all, be gone from office before the year is out and it’s tempting to think he hasn’t sufficient time to further damage efforts to reign in climate change.

But there’s no time to lose. And continued obstructionism by the Bush Administration doesn’t just highlight its continuing failure to grasp the urgency of the problem, it also ensures far greater difficulties for its successors, who will have to arrest the problem at home while pressing other major polluters like China and India to act.

It’s already later than we realize in the struggle to arrest climate change

A recent essay says the most pressing current scientific and political challenge is to avoid what is known as “dangerous” global warming – the point where world temperatures become irreversible.

As there’s a 25-to-30-year lag between greenhouse emissions and the full impact of their warming, current climate chaos is a result of carbon spewed in the late 1970s. The hit from more recent discharges – including China’s coal plants – is but pain yet to come.

So we’re dangerously close already.

China-U.S. rift casts long shadow after Bali

As dust settles from the recent UN climate-change conference in Indonesia, some observers are looking to China as the looming pivotal factor in the global-warming struggle.

The world’s most populous nation, now also neck-and-neck with the U.S. as its biggest greenhouse polluter, was the subject of a recent news article under the banner “As China goes, so goes global warming.”

The best the Bali delegates could achieve was two more years of talks on setting emission curbs, but with China building new coal-burning plants at the rate of one a week, in what states of peril will the planet be two years hence?

China, U.S. intransigence over climate policy hijacks Bali talks

A face off between the world’s largest greenhouse-gas spewers has taken center stage at the UN Climate Change Conference in Bali, and China appears to be winning its public-relations battle with the U.S.

China has reiterated it will not consider mandatory emissions cuts until the U.S. and other industrialized countries such as Canada embrace a less-extravagant lifestyle. The U.S. is standing pat in its opposition to mandatory limits.

Although both countries have dug in their heels, China, which many believe has already surpassed the U.S. as the world's top emitter of heat-trapping gases, is now seen as playing a constructive role on global warming after years of dodging the issue.

In that scenario, the U.S. is losing friends fast.

UN raises stakes in latest report on global warming; showdown set for Bali roundup

A panel of UN scientists has fired an opening salvo for world political leaders meeting next month in Bali to negotiate a successor to the Kyoto protocol.

And it’s a stern warning of what’s at stake if governments fail to take action, far stronger than three previous IPCC reports despite lively debate – highlighted by objections from the U.S., China and India – among about 130 governments who gave final approval.

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