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Climate change

Introduction: Energy versus emissions: The big challenge of the new millennium

By Rakesh Kalshian

To maintain its economic growth rate of 8-10%, India needs all the energy it can get. But the momentum of economic growth overrides crucial environmental concerns. How can India sustain a high economic growth rate and leapfrog into a sustainable energy regime without irreparably harming the environment?

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Hotting up: The science and politics of climate change

By Aditi Sen

The world is hotting up. Climate systems are changing. The 1990s were the hottest decade ever, sea levels rose by 10-20 cm during the 20th century, and atmospheric carbon dioxide levels are 31% higher than in 1750. There's overwhelming scientific evidence to prove that climate change is human-induced and closely connected to energy use and the burning of fossil fuels

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Confused about climate

By Darryl D'Monte

Journalists reporting on the arcane science of climate and the environment have to grapple with new and often conflicting theories and findings from scientists and sceptical environmentalists virtually every month. What does the bewildered journalist do in the circumstances?

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Low on fuel: Crisis ahead

By D Narasimha Rao

With costs of oil and coal rising, and crude imports growing, India is facing a huge energy crisis. Where does India's energy come from, and where does it go? If we are to reduce demand, boost efficiency and design small-scale, decentralised energy options, we must incorporate the consumer in decision-making

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Mobility: At what cost?

By Chella Rajan

Transport contributes nearly one-fourth of the world's greenhouse gas emissions. In India, there has been a 200-fold increase in vehicle population between 1951 and 2002, placing a heavy demand on petroleum. Emissions from passenger cars are expected to grow at 5% per annum, and from aviation at 4% per year. Are there solutions?

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Climate's new trustees

By Richard Mahapatra

Piggybacking on the goal of reducing carbon emissions, multilateral banks including the World Bank and Asian Development Bank are re-orienting their lending priorities. They are pushing big hydropower projects and nuclear power as feasible and economically viable for reducing carbon emissions in transition countries like India and China

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Hydropower is hot property again

By Shripad Dharmadhikary

Hydropower is riding the wave of climate change: it is touted to cut down the use of fossil fuels and sequester carbon in its reservoirs. The pace of implementation is being stepped up in India, with a planned 162 projects in 16 states by 2017. But claims of the climate benefits of hydropower seem to be running far ahead of the science of the matter. And even if hydropower does cut down on fossil fuel, it does so at the expense of other impacts on the ecosystem and communities. So it may be 'cleaner' in some respects, but 'dirtier' in others

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A trading system based on hot air

By Rahul Goswami

Smoke and mirrors defines the world's newest commodities trading system, one in which India is a pivotal participant. In the name of sustainable development, Indian industry is claiming revenue through Clean Development Mechanisms, a key device of the Kyoto Protocol. This reliance upon the market to clean up the mess represents an increasingly prevalent paradigm in India's response to climate change

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Flaws in the pro-nuclear argument

By M V Ramana and Suchitra J Y

Flailing nuclear establishments worldwide are using global warming as an opportunity to resurrect an industry that has collapsed because of its inability to provide clean, safe, or cheap electricity. India too is forging ahead, mindless of the fact that nuclear energy is not environment-friendly, safe or economical. Thousands of crores of investment later, just 3% of India's installed electricity-generation capacity comes from nuclear energy. This investment is at the cost of promoting other more sustainable sources of power

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Are we headed towards CDM endorsements for nuclear energy?

By A S Panneerselvan

Will the Indo-US defence deal pave the way for India to get Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) endorsement for its nuclear programme? So far, nuclear energy has not been formally included in CDM credits. If it is, CDM credits will give nuclear energy the Kyoto stamp of approval, encouraging developing countries to go down the nuclear road

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'India has no choice but to increase emissions'

By Richard Mahapatra

Given India's limited energy options, its dependence on fossil fuels and the reality of global warming, nuclear energy and hydropower are serious options for India in future, says R K Pachauri, director-general of TERI and chairperson of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. They just need the right policy back-up

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Commoditising power

By Sudha Mahalingam

Power generation is the primary contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in India. But government policy, as stated in the Electricity Act 2003, fails to address the environmental concerns arising from the unbridled burning of fossil fuels. Instead, it puts the premium on financial sustainability of power utilities, completely neglecting environmental sustainability

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The power plant in your backyard

By G M Pillai

In the not-too-distant future, power plants will shift from large, remote centralised stations to rooftops, basements, backyards, or nearby hill ranges. Experts predict that half the world's energy supply by 2050 will be from renewables. But there are several obstacles to the integration and effective market penetration of renewables

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Waste-to-energy or waste-to-pollution?

By Gopal Krishna

Waste incineration poses serious risks to human health and the environment. It also violates international environmental norms. But the government continues to experiment with burn-technologies and waste-to-energy programmes, ignoring cheaper and safer alternatives

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Biofuels: A reality check

By Ranjit Devraj

President Kalam envisions millions of hectares of wastelands greened with oil-bearing jatropha. All the sugarcane-growing states are excited about bio-ethanol. Mercedes Benzes have been run on bio-diesel blends. But is the hype around biofuels to be believed?

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Is natural gas the fuel of the 21st century?

By Sudha Mahalingam

Natural gas is an efficient fuel, emits 60% less carbon dioxide than coal and 42% less than oil, and is available in abundance. But there are geopolitical, economic and infrastructural challenges in India's transition to a gas-fuelled economy

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Falling off the map: Orissa's submerged villages

By Richard Mahapatra

In 1930, land records show an area of 320 sq km for the Satabhaya cluster of seven villages near Paradip in Orissa. Land records for 2000 indicate that this area has been reduced to 155 sq km. Five of the seven villages have been swallowed by the sea. Several other villages in Orissa are likely to suffer the same fate. Is Orissa paying the price of climate change? This special series by Richard Mahapatra investigates

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