Call for tighter caps on GHG emissions

Climate advocates called for tighter caps on greenhouse gas emissions in the European Union after figures released recently showed that some of the dirtiest industries benefited from a surplus of permits. The figures from the European Commission showed the largest annual decline in emissions from industries covered by the bloc’s carbon trading programme since it began in 2005, a drop that was largely a result of the global economic slowdown. Many of the companies that were issued permits have made millions of euros from selling their excess credits, anticipating that they would have plenty in years to come, or because they needed to generate cash to shore up their balance sheets as the economic crisis bit deeper.

In many cases, these companies have also held on to some of their surpluses, which would make it easier for them to offset future emissions after the economy recovers. Carbon trading, also known as cap and trade, is supposed to be the European Union’s main tool to control greenhouse gases. The system is the world’s biggest greenhouse gas market. The same businesses that emitted 1.9 billion tons of carbon dioxide in 2008 emitted 1.7 billion tons in 2009, according to Fages.

James Kanter
New York Times News Service

Burning biomass  cause for TB

Nepal has a high incidence of tuberculosis. Nepal is also among the South Asian countries where a lot of biomass is burnt for fuel. The two facts provided a group with reasons to link indoor air pollution from fuels with tuberculosis—something that six studies have so far have tried to do, unsuccessfully.

Researchers from the school of public health at University of California at Berkeley in USA proved the link and also found something significant: kerosene, though not a biomass-based fuel, plays a bigger role in triggering the disease.

The researchers studied 125 women in the age group of 20-65 suffering from tuberculosis and getting treated in the Regional Tuberculosis Centre and Manipal Teaching Hospital, both located in the Pokhara municipality.

Another 250 healthy women in the same age group were monitored as control. The women were questioned on history of use of cooking fuels and stoves, kitchen type and location, kitchen ventilation, burning of mosquito coils and incense.

The researchers also visited a small number of households to verify the answers for the study that lasted from July 2005 to April 2007. Burning wood, cow dung and other such biomass to keep the house warm harms the lungs more than when the same is used for cooking. This could be because cooking on stoves takes a long time.

The woman goes into the kitchen once in a while to check if the food’s done, thus reducing her exposure to smoke. Using biomass for heating results in more exposure as there is a deliberate attempt to minimise ventilation as the family sits around the fire. This was not considered earlier as most of the studies on biomass and tuberculosis have been carried out in warmer countries but in Nepal night-time and winter temperatures are low.

The team also found that women who had been exposed to the fumes of burning kerosene both in stoves and for lighting purposes were more prone to catching tuberculosis.

Vibha Varshney
Down To Earth Feature Service