Archive for the ‘climate crisis’ Category

The new-old boogies of oil and gas industry

Tuesday, December 7th, 2021

World Petroleum Congress was held in Houston, Texas on 06.12.2021. Where “executives from Saudi Aramco, Exxon Mobil, and Chevron, speaking at the World Petroleum Congress in Houston on Monday, blamed demand for renewables and lack of investment in fossil fuels for recent fuel shortages and price volatility.”

The things that need more attention according to the oil and gas giants are “”Energy security, economic development and affordability are clearly not receiving enough attention.” Energy security and economic development on a dead planet? The economic development of the last century – especially since the neoliberal period has been that of massive concentration of wealth and power and people losing access to essential energy needs. And the worry about affordability once again shows how the state and its subsidies and fundings are essentially what makes a technology, sector, or industry feasible under contemporary capitalism.

The industry is also raising the boogieman of inflation and social unrest. Which are not unlikely but not inevitable and both are guaranteed in a scenario where the world enters irreversible cascading climate collapse.

Some corporate-climate-green-washing myth busting.

Tuesday, December 7th, 2021

A new report by T&E shows that the new “green” hydrogen fuels – which are made by turning electricity into hydrogen which when combined with CO2 produces a liquid fuel similar to petrol or diesel – are as, or maybe more polluting than existing fossil fuels. But the oil and gas and the automobile industry is pushing hard for these fuels. India under Modi has initiated a National Hydrogen Mission which is supposed to be a major part of the net-zero effort. Although the sector is waiting for the policy document to come and “a strong regulatory framework to be created keeping the interest of investors in mind.”

The level of NOx pollutants is equal to conventional fuels while CO (carbon monoxide) toxic production was higher in e-fuel tests.

India will soon be responsible for 3rd of the world’s air conditioning demands given the rise in extreme heat events in the region. But the ability to purchase and make billing investments is within a very small section of the population – my educated guess would be that it is roughly equal to the population owning private cars, i.e. around 2% of the national population.

Once again the only hope out of this entangled situation is the state sector coming to help the market -agencies like Energy Efficiency Services Limited will have to produce cheaper and more efficient air conditioners for the masses.

Meanwhile, European Environmental Bureau released a report on the repairability and replaceability of batteries in consumer electronics. Most new electronic gadgets do not allow for repair or replaceability of batteries creating more pollution, waste, overproduction, and burden of costs.

Climate considerations in contemporary public work tenders

Sunday, September 12th, 2021



The current pre-tender public works procedure looks something like this: a primary investigation by the concerned department is undertaken to assess the financial and technical feasibility of the proposed project with approximate estimates, which when gets the consent of the department goes for a detailed investigation that if gets the technical approval comes out as the document for tender and work contract – including drawings, bill of quantities and specifications.

Nowhere in this two-stage investigation and approval process, ecological feasibility is examined as an independent factor in the work project. But this stage is quite crucial as the project once notified for tender almost never gets terminated and extensively revised for environmental reasons. Which is understandable because at this stage a lot of material resource, manpower, and political calculas has already been mobilized. Therefore, climate and environmental activists should focus on the policy framework determining the initial approval of public infrastructure projects.

Such a framework must become the law of the land – like the Climate Change Act 2008 in the UK. But given the fact that India is reluctant to even revise its climate goals that is a very difficult task. And even such a law with strict emission targets will not be sufficient to govern particular projects because the impact of a single work, especially small projects like single lane roads, is usually very low even over the infrastructure’s lifetime. But the cumulative effect of all projects in a region or of a megaproject with various sub-projects – like Sagar Mala do have a massive greenhouse impact.

Hence the need for planning. Planning will not only make the ecological assessment and hence the construction of a range of public infrastructure (and possibly private infrastructure) within the biophysical limits of the planet but also give the opportunity to make more just and equitable infrastructure – where the relationships of various projects and their relationship with society and classes within it is better scrutinized.

Climate Crisis: Some Relevant Graphs for India

Friday, October 11th, 2019

Part of my presentation on climate law at some university:

Saturday, July 27th, 2019

A question has been bothering me for quite some time now. The question is, whether it is better to do something – something that gives only an illusion of reaching a solution to a problem or, to do nothing about it? The paper was an attempt to clarify some issues around this problem.

What do I mean by actions “that only gives an illusion of reaching a solution” – by vacuous actions? I believe any solution that does not incorporate and take into account the core of the problem can never meaningfully solve the problem and hence are only empty posturing.

In case of climate change then, what are the core issues that any meaningful action must incorporate? There are several, but here I have only focused on four – three general and one India specific (but a derivative of a general issue).

The first one has to do with total global carbon budget. To keep global mean temperature below the catastrophic threshold of 2°C there is only a limited amount of greenhouse gases we can emitte. The global carbon budget for 2°C according to IPCC Working Group I is less than 700 GtCO2 and for 1.5°C is around 400 GtCO2.

But the divergence from this fact and core issue starts to appear in the IPCC itself when the Working Group III in it’s modeling assumes that we have a budget of around 1600 GtCO2 – almost three times the actual. All actions to mitigate climate catastrophe must take this fact into account.

The second part of the core of the climate problem has to do with carbon removal technologies. There are many variants of these technologies and the scientific community has been telling us again and again that none of them exist . Atleast they can not be deployed in the scale required in given time. But the IPCC Working Group I assumes these technologies in its modeling – this brings our global carbon budget significantly further down. This fact must also be taken into account in any set of meaningful actions.

Third, the recent IPCC special report on 1.5°C says that what is now required to avoid the worst possible catastrophe is a “rapid and far reaching transition in all aspects lf human activity” which is “unprecedented in human history”. It doesn’t recommend patching up older actions, policies and legislation.

And sadly, I haven’t came across any discussion of these issues in last two days in the conference. There is a limit to hiding behind the language of differentiated responsibility after which it morphs into irresponsibility.

The fourth point – about India. Using some older model I have tried to show in the paper that even in best case scenario, India has the carbon budget of around 40 GtCO2. Which means even if USA and the EU decarbonise rapidly and reach net-zero around 2040, to avoid climate cascade into an inhabitable planet India can only emit for 10 more years at current rate.

Any meaningful action in India must take this into account – otherwise it’s just a masquerade for business as usual.

What I have been trying to say is that we cannot negotiate with or fool laws of physics. And if we cannot do that, the only options we have are to either follow IPCCs recommendation of rapid and unprecedented transition in all aspects of human life or to embrace extinction.