Posts tagged ‘Greenhouse gas’

22/12/2016

China Sends Carbon Fight Into Orbit – China Real Time Report – WSJ

As the climate-change community watches whether President-elect Donald Trump will retreat from U.S. greenhouse-gas commitments, China signaled it is charging ahead, launching a satellite to monitor rising levels of carbon in the atmosphere.

The move comes after a week when a thick blanket of smog hung over much of northern China, forcing the government to shut schools and businesses.

The launch of the satellite known as TanSat, reported early Thursday by state media, marks a renewed effort by the world’s biggest emitter to better understand and track the effects of greenhouse gas emissions. It also reflects the bigger role China aims to play in shaping the global response to climate change at a time the incoming U.S. administration voices skepticism about the Paris accord enacted this year to control and reduce carbon emissions.

“It’s a significant step in terms of being an indicator of China investing large amounts of resources and energy to understand the science behind climate change and carbon emissions,” said Ranping Song, a climate expert at the World Resources Institute in Washington.

The 1,400 pound satellite will orbit more than 400 miles above the earth for the next three years, said Yin Zengshan, the TanSat project’s chief designer, according to Xinhua News Agency, and follows similar projects by the U.S. and Japan to track global carbon levels from monitoring in space.

The satellite—in development for nearly six years—collects independent carbon data. Loaded with sensitive equipment that reads changes in atmospheric CO2 levels to within 1%, TanSat will take carbon readings every 16 days.

As a result, it could help “double check” emissions data reported by countries world-wide, said Mr. Song. Emissions accounting today still largely relies on estimates from energy-consumption statistics. The satellite readings would be a source of independent data for Chinese policy makers.

China has been trying to raise its image in the global climate-change debate, wanting to appear active in aiding global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, rather than serving as an obstacle. It has already pledged to peak and begin reducing its carbon emissions by 2030 as part of a deal reached with the U.S. in 2014. Yet it also comes against a more complicated backdrop today, with Mr. Trump’s incoming administration promising to boost production of polluting fossil fuels including coal.

Mr. Trump’s pledge ahead of the election to “cancel” the U.S. commitment to the global climate pact that entered force this year has worried Chinese officials. Xie Zhenhua, China’s special representative for climate-change affairs, has urged Mr. Trump to adhere to what China views as a global trend toward cutting emissions.

Under Mr. Trump, many in the U.S. environmental community fear funding for climate-change research could be hacked. In California, Gov. Jerry Brown has even vowed to launch the state’s own monitoring satellite if budgets get chopped.

“If Trump turns off the satellite,” Mr. Brown said this month, “California will launch its own damn satellite. We’re going to collect the data.”

In effect, the Chinese satellite could help add more “eyes in the sky” for monitoring carbon levels in the atmosphere, and serve as a complement to the existing data already being collected by the U.S. and Japan. Xinhua quoted officials as saying China was prepared to share its new data with researchers world-wide.

“Since only the United States and Japan have carbon-monitoring satellites, it is hard for us to see firsthand data,” Xinhua quoted Zhang Peng, vice director of China’s National Satellite Meteorological Center, as saying. “The satellite has world-wide scope and will improve data collection.”

Source: China Sends Carbon Fight Into Orbit – China Real Time Report – WSJ

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13/12/2016

Can jet engines clean up Delhi’s foul air? – BBC News

Sometime next year, if all goes well, a retired jet engine will be mounted on a flatbed trailer and taken to a coal-fired power plant in Delhi.

With the exhaust nozzle pointed at the sky, the engine will be placed near the smokestack and turned on.

As the engine roars to life, it will generate a nozzle speed of 400 metres per second (1,440km/h; 900mph), which is more or less the speed of sound.

The exhaust will create powerful updrafts that will, to put it simply, blast the emissions from the plant to higher altitudes, above a meteorological phenomenon called temperature inversion, where a layer of cold air is held in place by a warmer “lid” trapping smog.

The jet exhaust will act as a “virtual chimney”, drawing in and transporting the smog, which makes Delhi’s air some of the most toxic in the world. A single jet engine can deal with emissions from a 1,000 megawatt power plant.

Temperature inversion

Can Delhi ever clean up its foul air?

So can jet engines help clean up Delhi’s foul air? A team of researchers from the US, India and Singapore believes so.

“This could lead to a successful implementation of a new technology for smog mitigation all over the world,” the lead researcher, Moshe Alamaro, an aeronautical engineer and atmospheric scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, tells me.

“The programme could use retired and commercial engines and has the possibility of adding value to numerous retired propulsion systems available.”

Delhi is an ideal candidate for this experiment. The widespread use of festival fireworks, the burning of rubbish by the city’s poor, plus farm waste from around the city, vehicular emissions and construction dust, all contribute to the city’s thick “pea-soup” fogs.

The jet engines will be mounted on a flatbed trailer

Things get worse in winter: last month, schools were shut, construction and demolition work suspended, people wore face masks and were asked to work from home.

The move came after levels of PM2.5 – tiny particles that can affect the lungs – soared to over 90 times the level considered safe by the World Health Organization and 15 times the federal government’s norms.

Carrying out the jet engine experiment outside a coal-fired electricity plant makes sense as coal accounts for more than 60% of India’s power generation. In two years, the country could surpass China as the biggest importer of thermal coal.

Coal-fired energy may be linked to more than 100,000 premature deaths and millions of cases of asthma and respiratory ailments. Also, emissions from a 1,000-megawatt coal-fired plant are equivalent to emissions from roughly 500,000 cars.

Scientists say that jet engines were used in the Soviet Union 45 years ago to enhance rainfall.

“They achieved some success,” says Dr Alamaro. “As far as I know nobody tried using jet engines for smog mitigation.”

Noise concerns

Farmers have also rented helicopters to hover over their fields to “agitate and disrupt the inversions” to protect their crops.

Next month, Dr Alamaro will join some of India’s top scientists and collaborators from government agencies at a workshop to plan the experiment.

There are concerns: noise from the jet engine, for example.”In the beginning,” he says, “the jet engine will be tested in remote location and not necessarily near a power plant, to observe the jet properties and for optimisation.”

The scientists say that fears about emissions from jet engines fouling the air are unfounded as their emissions “are much cleaner than that of the power plant per unit of power”.

There are reportedly offers of retired jet engines from air forces in India and the US for the experiment.

Scientists are talking to Tata Group, a private power producer, to use one of their plants for a site for the experiment.

Before the test, meteorological data on the area, along with information on frequency of smog will be essential. Drones will be used before and after the experiment.

Coal-powered thermal power plants meet most of India’s energy needs

Critics of the planned experiment doubt whether the jet exhausts will be powerful enough to create a virtual chimney and blow out the smog, and question whether expensive jet engines can be used on a large scale to control air pollution in a vast city such as Delhi.

But Dr Alamaro is optimistic.

“Each new technology should start with the least resistant path for success,” he says.”The concentration of emission from coal is very high near the power plant.”

So a jet engine that elevates this emission is more effective near the power plant than somewhere else in the city that is plagued by smog.

“That said, we also plan to try to elevate the less concentrated smog in and around the city by jet systems.”

For example, the jet system can be placed near highways where vehicle emission is high, so the jet is more effective than somewhere else in the city.

If successful, Dr Alamaro says, this method can be used “anywhere and anytime, away from a power plant and during normal atmospheric conditions” to control air pollution.

Fairly soon, we may know if jet engines can really help to clean Delhi’s foul air.

Source: Can jet engines clean up Delhi’s foul air? – BBC News

27/09/2016

What India’s Decision to Ratify Paris Climate-Change Pact Means – India Real Time – WSJ

India’s announcement that it would ratify the 2015 global agreement on climate change increases the chances that the pact will go into effect this year.

Source: What India’s Decision to Ratify Paris Climate-Change Pact Means – India Real Time – WSJ

09/06/2015

China’s greenhouse gases could peak early, easing climate fears | Reuters

China’s greenhouse gas emissions could peak by 2025, five years earlier than indicated by Beijing, a development that could help limit the mounting risks of global warming, a study by the London School of Economics (LSE) showed on Monday.

A coal-burning power station can be seen behind migrant workers as they walk carrying their shovels on the construction site of a water canal, being built in a dried-up river bed located on the outskirts of Beijing October 22, 2010. REUTERS/David Gray

The report, more optimistic about curbing the use of fossil fuels than a Chinese industry forecast on Monday, noted that China’s “coal consumption fell in 2014, and fell further in the first quarter of 2015”.

“China’s greenhouse gas emissions are unlikely to peak as late as 2030 – the upper limit set by President Xi Jinping in November 2014 – and are much more likely to peak by 2025,” the report said.

“They could peak even earlier than that,” write the authors Fergus Green and Nicholas Stern, both from the LSE’s Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment and the Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy.

China, the top emitter of greenhouse gases – that are linked to rising ocean levels, heat waves and downpours – said last year its emissions would peak “around 2030, with the intention to try to peak early”.

Wang Zhixuan, secretary general of the China Electricity Council, predicted in a research report on Monday that China’s emissions from the power sector would keep rising to 2030, spurred by lower prices of coal than natural gas.

The industrial association projected that coal-fired power capacity would rise next decade, to 1,450 gigawatts in 2030 from 1,100 in 2020.

The LSE authors estimated that China’s overall emissions could peak at the equivalent of between 12.5 and 14 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide a year by 2025, up from about 10 billion around 2012.

That earlier-than-expected high point would help the world get on track for limiting warming to a maximum of two degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial times, they wrote, as long as China introduced sweeping reforms from cities to public transport.

Group of Seven leaders were meeting in Germany on Monday to discuss issues including climate change and how to achieve the 2C target, which many experts say is fast slipping out of reach.

And senior negotiators from almost 200 governments are meeting from June 1-11 in the German city of Bonn to work on a U.N. deal due in Paris in December to limit temperatures.

via China’s greenhouse gases could peak early, easing climate fears | Reuters.

01/04/2015

China to unveil measures to fight water pollution | Reuters

China is to launch an action plan to protect the quality of its scarce water resources after years of rapid economic growth that have left much of its water supply too polluted for human consumption or for growing food.

The plan, expected to be published this month, will require firms in heavily polluting industries such as paper mills and dye and chemical plants to treat discharged water and it will set higher penalties for those that violate rules on discharging pollutants, according to official media reports.

One third of China’s major river basins and 60 percent of its underground water are contaminated, according to official data, posing a major threat to public health and food security.

The long-awaited action plan is expected to be approved by the cabinet this month to give it legal powers to hold polluters and local authorities responsible.

“The plan will ring an alarm bell with local authorities who did little to protect water and will help to remove the regional segregation that constrained the growth of the water treatment business,” said He Yuanping, executive vice president of Originwater, a private clean water technology company.

He estimated the treatment business could be worth more than 2 trillion yuan ($323 billion) in terms of the total investment involved, including assets owned by local governments.

via China to unveil measures to fight water pollution | Reuters.

14/03/2015

China’s greener energy efforts help global carbon emissions stall after almost 40 years of gains | South China Morning Post

China burned less coal and generated more electricity from renewable sources last year, which helped halt the rise in global carbon dioxide emissions in the energy sector.

China burned less coal last year and generated more electricity from renewable sources to help halt the global rise in  carbon dioxide emissions. Photo: Reuters

Emissions of carbon dioxide were flat at 32.3 billion tonnes last year, as they were in 2013, the International Energy Agency (IEA)  reported yesterday.

It ended steady gains over the past four decades except in years with an economic downturn.

“This is both a welcome surprise and a significant one,” IEA chief economist Fatih Birol said in a statement.

“This gives me even more hope that humankind will be able to work together to combat climate change, the most important threat facing us today.”

The IEA, which is based in France, and advises governments of developed nations, said the halt in emissions growth was linked to greener patterns of energy consumption in China – the top carbon emitter ahead of the United States – and in developed nations.

“In China, [last year] saw greater generation of electricity from renewable sources, such as hydropower, solar and wind, and less burning of coal,” it said.

via China’s greener energy efforts help global carbon emissions stall after almost 40 years of gains | South China Morning Post.

03/02/2015

Mines Shut as China Burns Less Coal – China Real Time Report – WSJ

Yu County, a sprawling mountainous area in China’s northern industrial province of Hebei, is known for its ancient temples and coal mines. These days, the temples remain, but the mines are vanishing. As the WSJ’s Chuin-Wei Yap and Rhiannon Hoyle report:

“We used to have around 300 coal mines in the area. Now it’s down to 70-plus,” said a manager of a local pit who identified himself only as Mr. Cheng. Shrinking profit margins and a failure to meet safety standards have led many to close, Mr. Cheng said. His own midsize company, Kanghe Coal Mining Co., was swallowed by a larger competitor, state-owned Kailuan Group Co., last year.

What is happening in Yu County is an illustration of the bleak times for the global coal industry. Tougher environmental standards coupled with shrinking demand have led to the closing of mines across China and sent coal prices to their lowest in six years. China’s coal output likely fell 2.5% in 2014, the first annual decline in 14 years, the China Coal Industry Association said last week. And while full-year data aren’t yet available, official statistics show China consumed 1.1% less coal in the first three quarters of 2014 than a year earlier.

via Mines Shut as China Burns Less Coal – China Real Time Report – WSJ.

07/12/2014

India plans 5-fold increase in clean energy – Businessweek

India said Friday it was optimistic the world would reach an agreement to curb climate change, but said its actions would be focused on boosting its renewable power capacity five-fold rather than on cutting carbon emissions.

With hundreds of millions still mired in poverty and without access to electricity, India cannot afford to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at the expense of economic growth, Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar said before leaving this weekend for U.N. climate talks in Lima, Peru.

“Our growth cannot be compromised,” Javadekar said. “Poverty needs to be eradicated immediately. Poor people have aspirations. We must fulfill them. We must give them energy access. We cannot and nobody can question on this.”

He said he was optimistic industrialized nations would agree to shoulder more of the burden to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, given that they had been polluting with fossil fuels for decades before developing nations.

“That is the just regime,” he said.

The recent U.S.-China pact announcing new targets for fossil fuel use marked a positive step toward establishing this sort of equality, he said. In that pact, the U.S. said it would aim to bring down its per-capita emissions from about 20 tons while allowing China to raise its 8-9 tons per capita so that both reach a level of about 12 tons by 2030.

“They have accepted the differentiated responsibility and the need of time for growth,” Javadekar said.

India had already pledged to reduce its emissions intensity — how much carbon dioxide it produces divided by its GDP — rather than promising to cut overall emissions. However, Indian officials and scientists say it could easily go beyond the target set in 2009 of cutting emissions intensity by 20-25 percent below 2005 levels by 2020.

India’s preference for the per-capita emissions calculation also ignores the fact that around 400 million Indians still have no access to electricity at all, while hundreds of millions more are lucky to get a couple of hours a day. Experts worry that as India’s population continues to grow beyond 1.2 billion and more people become wealthy, its share of global emissions will skyrocket.

via India plans 5-fold increase in clean energy – Businessweek.

21/11/2014

How Indians and Chinese Study in the U.S. Shows Degrees of Development – China Real Time Report – WSJ

A record number of international students—close to 900,000 scholars–studied at U.S. colleges and universities last year and more than four out of ten of them were from India or China.

How the best and brightest from China and India choose their expensive American degrees demonstrates the differing levels of development between the world’s only billion-person economies.

Chinese students tend to choose undergraduate courses focused on business, while Indians opt for short graduate programs in more technical subjects like science and math.

A report from the Institute of International Education published this week has the figures. China continued to be the biggest exporter of students to the United States by far. It had more than 274,000 students stateside, which was a 17% increase from the previous year.

India was a distant second but still had more than 102,000 college and university students to America. That was a 6% increase from the year before, and the first rise in the number of students from the subcontinent in five years.

Back in the school year which ended in June 2010, China passed India as the biggest source of foreign freshman in the U.S.—a title India had held for years. China has been adding to that lead ever since.

China’s rise to the top—it had 200,000 more students last year to the U.S. than it did just eight years earlier—reflects the growing incomes and increasing globalization of the country’s citizens, analysts say.

Chinese students were much more likely to go to the states for undergraduate studies than Indian students. Only around 12% of Indians that study in the U.S. were there for undergraduate studies during the past school year, compared to 40% of Chinese students, the IIE study showed.

It makes sense, said Akhil Daswani, chief operating officer of OnCourse Vantage, an education consulting company in India, an undergraduate degree is a luxury few Indians can afford.

“If you are going to spend $250,000 over four years you have to have a considerable amount of disposable income,” Mr. Daswani said. “Undergraduate schools are marketing heavily (in China). It is the first place they want to go because they are getting so much business.”

When they go for an international degree, Indians prefer to get more bang for their rupee, they tend to go for two-year graduate courses that lead to high-paying jobs.

Close to 80% of Indian students in the U.S. last year were aiming to get technical degrees in science, technology, engineering or math, the study showed. That figure for China was 42%. Chinese students, meanwhile, leaned more towards business degrees. Around 28% of Chinese students were studying business compared to 12% of Indian students.

via How Indians and Chinese Study in the U.S. Shows Degrees of Development – China Real Time Report – WSJ.

13/11/2014

China, U.S. agree limits on emissions, but experts see little new | Reuters

China and the United States agreed on Wednesday to new limits on carbon emissions starting in 2025, but the pledge by the world’s two biggest polluters appears to be more politically significant than substantive.

U.S. (L) and Chinese national flags flutter on a light post at the Tiananmen Square ahead of a welcoming ceremony for U.S. President Barack Obama, in Beijing, November 12, 2014. REUTERS/Petar Kujundzic

As China’s President Xi Jinping agreed to a date for peak CO2 emissions for the first time and also promised to raise the share of zero-carbon energy to 20 percent of the country’s total, President Barack Obama said the United States would cut its own emissions by more than a quarter by 2025.

via China, U.S. agree limits on emissions, but experts see little new | Reuters.

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