Reuters blog archive
By Katrina Hamlin
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are her own.
China’s smog is visible, and vexes the urban rich. But attempts to fix the looming “airpocalypse” may be exacerbating another acute risk: water. If the country’s planners really want to make growth sustainable, they will need to pull the plug on cheap supply for thirsty energy companies and consumers.
Big air polluters like the coal industry are under pressure. New targets could reduce coal’s role to less than 65 percent of the energy mix by 2017, though consumption will still rise in absolute terms. The government is trying to move coal-burning steel and power plants away from wealthy cities. Choked industrial hubs in Hebei, the province that encircles Beijing, have received special attention. Mining is also a target, with dirty, high-sulphur coal discouraged in favour of cleaner varieties in remote Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia.
The trouble is that China is a dry country. Coal facilities, including new plants, are often located in its parched northern provinces. And coal is thirsty: it must be washed before use, while turning it into electricity commonly relies on steam. One solution to urban air pollution, converting coal into “synthetic natural gas” and piping it into cities to be burned, uses 12 times as much water as regular coal power, according to the World Resources Institute.
By John Foley
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.
Coal is much like China’s reform challenge: hard and dirty. Even as politicians fret about the country’s chronic smog, they approved 100 million tonnes of new mining capacity in 2013, six times the amount for the previous year. That will add to the 300 million tonnes or so already due to come on stream in 2014. The habit is proving difficult to kick.
from Photographers' Blog:
By Jim Young
It was dubbed "Chiberia" here in Chicago: record low temperatures with a wind chill in the -40 Celsius range (-40 Fahrenheit).
I knew it was coming. I had been dodging the bullet for two winters in Chicago and eventually "real cold" had to arrive here sooner or later. I had survived 30+ years of Canadian winters and lived through a -50C (-58F) wind chill in Ottawa, but I have had two of the nicest winters in my life in the Windy City. In February 2012 it was 80F and I was walking around in flip flops, but certainly not this week.
from The Great Debate UK:
--Laurens de Vries is an assistant professor, Joern Richstein is a doctoral candidate, Emile Chappin is an assistant professor, and Gerard Dijkema is an associate professor at Delft University of Technology, the Netherlands. The opinions expressed are their own.--
The European Parliament voted on December 10 to delay sales of around 900 million carbon permits for the EU greenhouse-gas Emission Trading System (EU-ETS). The deferral (or so-called back-loading) may help correct the substantial oversupply of permits which have caused the carbon price to fall below 5 euros, a sixth of the price in 2008.
This week we give thanks to those who have worked to ensure a clean and beautiful environment in America. We are fortunate that our air and water is sanitary and safe. It is healthy for us and it has profound economic consequences for the nation.
China recently moved to address its enormous and complex environment problem. From e360 at Yale:
from Photographers' Blog:
Novo Progresso, Brazil
By Nacho Doce
The Amazon? Nobody can truly understand what it is without spending months or years immersed in it, to see the forest and witness the destruction. Spectacular and heartrending at the same time, it is the focus of great controversy that affects the world as much as it does Brazil.
It took us five trips spread over the past year to achieve a better understanding, but what I have recorded is just a brief moment in this immensity of rainforest and deforested land, with the forces working to annihilate what’s left.
from Full Focus:
Photographers Nacho Doce and Ricardo Moraes spent months documenting deforestation in the Amazon rainforest. Initial data from Brazil’s space agency suggests that deforestation of the vast Amazon - the largest rainforest in the world - spiked by over a third during the past year, wiping out an area more than twice the size of the city of Los Angeles. If the figures are borne out by follow-up data, they would confirm fears of scientists and environmental activists who warn that farming, mining and Amazon infrastructure projects, coupled with changes to Brazil's long-standing environmental policies, are reversing progress made against deforestation.
Welcome to the Counterparties email. The sign-up page is here, it’s just a matter of checking a box if you’re already registered on the Reuters website. Send suggestions, story tips and complaints to Counterparties.Reuters@gmail.com.
Last month, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a UN-created body that is tasked with studying and reporting on climate change’s global impact, came out with a rather depressing report. (Here’s the full report and a detailed-yet-readable summary). The report tackled how Earth’s climate has already been affected by greenhouse gas emissions (a fair amount), how it will continue to be affected (more and more), and what we can do about it (not nearly enough). In the interim, there have been a series of articles and posts exploring the economics of climate change.
from The Great Debate:
The day after his 2009 inauguration, President Barack Obama committed to “creating an unprecedented level of openness in government.”
He vowed to build on “transparency [that] promotes accountability by providing the public with information about what the government is doing,” “participation [that] allows members of the public to contribute ideas and expertise,” and “collaboration [that] actively engages Americans in the work of their government.”
from The Great Debate:
The term “sustainability” crept into the business lexicon slowly, by way of the environmental movement. It no longer means covering operating costs with profits, the definition I learned at Harvard Business School six years ago. Instead, it’s morphed into a blurry term that fits into whatever suitcase you want it to -- a catchall for everything “socially good,” whatever that means.
The term has been used by various groups -- with various meanings -- for three decades. The Sierra Club first introduced it in the 1970s, during the dawn of the environmental movement. At the time, activists were speaking out against mining, water pollution, and other environmental threats. They defined “sustainability” as an approach to preserving natural resources by creating national parks and enacting legislation that would penalize polluters. In the 1980s, companies like The Body Shop used sustainability to describe their commitment to environmental and human rights, and a corporate focus that expanded beyond profits. For the next 20 years, the term was used by a small group of companies, like Ben and Jerry’s and Eileen Fisher, whose founders tried to incorporate their social values into their business models.