Holy Smoke! This One Move By The PM Came Right On Time

Posted on March 3, 2015 in Environment

By Anjali Nambissan:

There’s a lot of international pressure on India to act a certain way regarding our commitment to reducing the amount of carbon emissions in the atmosphere, causing world altering climate change. The United States is constantly brandishing its November 2014 deal with China to reduce America’s new emissions, and decide on a peaking date for Chinese emissions, to induce a suitable response from India.

Coal

And it seems Prime Minister Narendra Modi has swung into motion. The past month has been flushed with news of how Modi is roping in big banks and bigger energy companies to invest in his ‘175 gigawatts of RE by 2022’ dream. And with the Union Budget 2015, he seems to have stepped his Climate Change Hero game, up a notch.

Starting April 1, coal production will be dearer by Rs 200 per tonne, thanks to a hike in the coal cess announced by Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in this year’s budget speech. This move makes coal-powered electricity pricier by Re 0.06 per kilowatt hour. While I don’t know what to make of Jaitley’s budget (which favours some environmental concerns while cutting funding for others), the higher (almost double) coal tax is a well-timed and welcome initiative. It could spur innovation and higher efficiency in not just coal production, but also energy generation, together considered ‘dirty’ industries.

Hot like Co2 in the atmosphere

Despite so much being written and said about how rising Co2 in the atmosphere causes global warming, this direct correlation was only recently mathematically explained in the form of a theoretical equation by researchers from Universities of Southampton, Liverpool and Bristol. And now, scientists have established the first direct link between increasing Co2 (carbon) emissions and rising temperature of the Earth.

A group of researchers at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, The US Department of Energy, studied one patch of land in Oklahoma and one in Alaska for 11 years. When atmospheric CO2 increased by 22 parts per million between 2000 and 2010, they found that consequently, radiative forcing (the amount of heat absorbed by the Earth’s atmosphere) increased by two-tenths of a Watt per square metre per decade.

“We see, for the first time in the field, the amplification of the greenhouse effect because there’s more CO2 in the atmosphere to absorb what the Earth emits in response to incoming solar radiation,” Daniel Feldman, scientist in Berkeley Lab’s Earth Sciences Division and lead author of the paper published in Nature last month said in a press release.

The study further demonstrated the ‘cooling’ effect of plant photosynthesis on CO2-related global warming by demonstrating a dip in radiative forcing during spring time. There’s another reason why unplanned deforestation is a bad idea.

I’m glad PM Modi didn’t wait for more evidence before he acted on his climate change mitigation pledges. Now can we please see some similar zeal with regards to the National Adaptation Plan, please?

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