Thursday, August 25, 2016

Air Pollution to Printing Ink

A chorus of car horns, jammed roads and ever rising fuel prices - These problems have become a daily routine for most urban commuters in India. And along with road congestion, city dwellers also have to deal with clouds of smoke from various emissions making our air toxic and difficult to breathe in. To address these problems, India's start-up space is stepping up to the challenge, trying to fix traffic, parking problems and air pollution through creative technology. Some of them are even using pollution to print t-shirts and paint walls, on this episode of Heads Up, meet these innovators and hear their stories.

Read the full story @ NDTV

INR 700 crore (~USD 105 million) Collected in Delhi as Truck Entry Fees and Diesel Cess - No News on Spending

At least Rs 400 crore collected under the "polluter pays" principle in recent times and Rs 300 crore out of the entire pollution cess on diesel sold in the capital since 2008 are yet to be utilised to improve the air quality in the capital.

Though the state government, the pollution control committees and the municipal corporations are flush with such funds following Supreme Court and National Green Tribunal (NGT) directives strictly penalising polluting sources, they are yet to frame concrete plans on how to spend the money .

Experts told TOI that the money shouldn't be spent on day-to-day operations or infrastructure of these departments or agencies but pumped into where it was needed most: improving public transport and implementing tried and tested methods to clean up the air of one of the worst polluted cities in the world. The environment compensation charge (ECC) levied by the apex court on trucks entering Delhi has led to the corporations collecting Rs 395 crores, which has been handed over to the state transport department. Likewise, the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC), also under the AAP government, has collected more than Rs 2.5 crore as ECC for waste burning and construction projects violating dust pollution norms.

However, the authorities seem to be dragging their feet on how to implement what NGT and the court had ordered: that such funds should be spent to fight Delhi's air pollution. DPCC is also the custodian of the "air ambience fund" which was created in 2008 to collect a pollution cess of 25 paise on every litre of diesel sold in the capital. The state government has been utlising this fund to subsidise electric vehicles; a part of it has also been used on the odd even scheme. However, about Rs 300 crore of the corpus remains unutilised.

The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has recently opened an account for the collection of 1% pollution cess on the ex-showroom price of luxury diesel vehicles (more than 2000 cc). It is developing a strategy now to invest this amount which will be submitted to the apex court soon. "The money will be utilized for pollution monitoring, control and public awareness. In the last one week since we opened the bank account for this cess, we have collected Rs 3 lakh from various NCR areas. However, Delhi hasn't started levying this yet," a CPCB official said.

Read the full report @ Times of India

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Nottingham Drops 33% of CO2 footprint

The local authority set the area a target of a 26% reduction by 2020, but the latest figures mean that the target has been beaten this year. According to the city council – Nottingham is now producing three tonnes less of CO2 per year per person than they were in 2005.

In 2012 Nottingham introduced a workplace parking levy, which saw businesses with 11 or more employees parking on their premises paying the £381 charge. The city council claims the levy, which has 100% compliance rate, has enabled it to invest in better public transport to tackle air pollution and traffic congestion in Nottingham.

In 2014 the local authority expanded its electric bus fleet to 50 partly thanks to the government’s green bus fund. “A significant part of this reduction – around 13% – is due to the popularity of public transport, cycling and walking in Nottingham. “Certainly, the workplace parking levy is a unique policy in the UK at the moment. But we believe it has the potential to help many cities deal with congestion and air quality issues. It enables us to invest in low-carbon transport, and the fact it provides regulation, and to some extent, constraint on city centre usage are significant things.”

Read the full article @ Air Quality News

Urban Heat Island Effect in Chinese Cities

Here’s another way China’s notorious air pollution is making citizens’ lives uncomfortable—it’s making the country’s cities hotter. Researchers have found evidence that the pollution engulfing China’s cities enhances the warming effect of cityscapes, raising the temperature by one degree Celsius. Writing in Nature Communications, they say it’s not the bigger cities that suffer the most, but those with the worst of a certain type of air pollution.

Cities tend to be hotter than countryside areas because of the Urban Heat Island effect—the density of buildings and the materials they are built out of absorb heat and radiation from the sun extremely well, but don’t readily release it at night, keeping the area warmer for longer.

Meanwhile, China’s cities are often covered in a haze, as the researchers call it, that comes from the vehicles, factories, and coal-fired power plants that have driven China’s industrial development, which in turns has triggered a mass migration of citizens from rural areas into cities in search of work. The population regularly manifests as a suffocating smog that can engulf major cities for days.

Scientists have long suspected pollution exacerbates the Urban Heat Island, said Xuhui Lee, a professor at the Yale University School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, in a press release. The new finding, based on satellite data, is the first direct evidence that China’s infamous pollution problems are compounding the effect.

But not all pollution is created equal. Fine pollution particles, such as those in the 2.5 PM (particulate matter) range that are normally blamed for damaging health can actually be a protector when it comes to city heat. On the one hand, they cause asthma and penetrate the blood stream and internal organs, raising the risk of cancer and heart disease. On the other hand, those same sized particles actually block sunlight, which can help cool city surfaces.

Larger aerosol particles, such as those generated from road dust, coal burning, cooking stoves and sand—particularly a problem in cities in China’s northwest that are near to the Gobi and Taklimakan deserts—absorb and radiate heat while also being bad for health. The dust carried over from the deserts, combined with industrial pollution, mean these cities suffer the most from a thicker haze and a larger heating effect, compared to the bigger coastal cities. Hami City, population 450,000, has an Urban Heat Island effect three times worse than Shanghai, which has 14 million residents.

Read the full article @ Quartz