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Renewable energy

Why climate change isn’t our biggest environmental problem, and why technology won’t save us

Richard Heinberg writes: Over the past century-and-a-half, fossil fuels enabled the rapid growth of resource extraction, manufacturing, and consumption; and these in turn led to population increase, pollution, and loss of natural habitat and hence biodiversity. Our core ecological problem is not climate change. It is overshoot, of which global warming is only a symptom.

India’s dispossessed confront a new threat: solar parks

Frontline reports: Across the country, large tracts of land are being earmarked for exclusive solar power parks. The rocky terrain of Madhya Pradesh’s Neemuch district has emerged as the largest solar power-generating hub in India, but the nomadic communities that have lived there for generations find themselves dispossessed of land and reduced to abject poverty.

Civil society comments on NITI Aayog’s draft National Energy Policy

From Vikalp Sangam: NITI Aayog has invited suggestion and feedback on its Draft National Energy Policy. Here’s the detailed response sent by a group of civil society groups. Also linked here is energy expert Bhamy Shenoy’s critique of the draft Policy, which he says does not reflect the crucial recent transformations in the energy sector.

The global crisis and the role of so-called renewable energies in solving it

In this essay, a contribution to the‘Pathways to the Post-Carbon Economy’ symposium by Insurge Intelligence, the author argues persuasively that the much-hyped “renewable energy technologies” cannot play any role in solving the multifaceted global crisis of today; on the contrary, investing in them is a waste of time, effort, energy and, most important of all, scarce resources.

Bernie Sanders and Al Gore on solving the climate crisis

From The Guardian: In 2006, former U.S. Vice-President Al Gore triggered a worldwide debate about climate change with his Oscar-winning documentary, An Inconvenient Truth. Now, he’s back with a rousing follow-up for the age of climate change denial under Trump. Fellow climate champion and U.S. presidential candidate Bernie Sanders recently discussed the film with Gore.

Google engineers say today’s RE technologies won’t save us. So what will?

From IEEE Spectrum: At the beginning, engineers at RE<C, Google’s now defunct renewable energy initiative, had shared the attitude of many environmentalists: They felt that with steady improvements to today’s renewable energy technologies, society could stave off catastrophic climate change. They now know that to be a false hope—but that doesn’t mean the planet is doomed.

Deadline 2020: Just three years before global climate tipping point

From Common Dreams: Humanity has just three years left to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions before risking a climate-safe world. After roughly 1°C of global warming driven by human activity, ice sheets are melting, summer sea ice is disappearing in the Arctic and coral reefs dying from heat stress— entire ecosystems are starting to collapse.

Spotlight: China’s communist-capitalist ecological apocalypse

From Truthout.org: This superbly researched 2015 paper explains why China’s unfolding environmental crisis is so horrific, so much worse than “normal” capitalism almost everywhere else, and why the government is incapable of suppressing pollution even from its own industries. It should serve as a warning for India, whose official policies increasingly mimic the ‘China model’.

Solar power: Do the ends justify the means?

From World Economic Forum: People often have an idealised view of solar as the perfect clean energy source. Direct conversion of sunlight to electricity, no emissions, no contamination, perfectly clean. This however overlooks the messy reality of how solar panels are produced, right from the extraction of materials to scaling up the power generation process.

Get ready for peak oil demand

From The Wall Street Journal: While most big oil companies foresee a day when the world will need less crude, timing peak oil demand has proven controversial. Most Big European producers predict that a peak could emerge as soon as 2025 or 2030, and are overhauling long-term investment plans to diversify away from crude oil.

India has a better option than electric cars

Prem Shankar Jha in The Wire: When nearly 350 million vehicles have to be charged every day, not only will an entire nation-wide, and therefore expensive, recharging infrastructure have to be built, but the power these vehicles will consume will have to be generated first. Nearly all of this will have to come from coal.

Is it the beginning of the end of oil era?

From Deccan Herald: There’s a great deal of disagreement between those who predict the end of oil era and those who believe in the need to look for more oil reserves. Since India’s ready to invest a huge amount in transforming its economy, there’s an urgent need to find out which scenario will pan out.

With the U.S. out of Paris, what is the future for the global climate fight?

From Yale Environment 360: World leaders insist Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris agreement will not deter other nations from carrying out their commitments. But the departure of America creates new challenges. The concern is whether the rest of the world will prove as determined to abide by the Paris-accord as some analysts claim.

World Environment Day is now little more than a greenwashing opportunity

Nitin Sethi writes: Whatever a government might do to run the economic engine of the country or its politics, it has to continuously claim that it is a win-win for both the environment and development. It will talk about its moves to set up zero-effect and zero-defect industries. We all know such an idea does not exist.

It only takes a few countries to kickstart a decarbonisation revolution

From The Conversation: This latest study looked at the trends driving decarbonisation in three key sectors of the global energy system – power, transportation and buildings. It found that, in these fields, it has taken only a few players to set in motion the kind of transformations necessary to meet the Paris Climate Agreement’s targets.

Why the fight for environmental justice is also a fight for social justice

Nityanand Jayaraman writes: June 5 was World Environment Day. Over the last few days, this author, an environmental activist, has been asked by many people to lay out things that people can do without really straining their daily schedules. These simple things may not exist anymore. Instead, here are six things for everyone to consider.

Ground Report: India’s slow but sure shift away from coal

Keith Schneider writes: It is almost impossible for a single place to embody the full array of emerging factors around climate, carbon, water, finance, culture and cleaner technology that have utterly changed how India and the world view the value and risks of coal. But if such a place exists, it’s Vilambur in Tamil Nadu.

China, India become climate leaders as West falters

Climate Central reports: Two years after the Paris climate accord, climate policies are advancing in developing countries but stalling or regressing in richer ones. Here’s a trip around the world, assessing how pro-climate and anti-climate forces are faring in key nations and regions, showing how recent developments are affecting the languishing fight against global warming.

China’s ‘new Silk Road’ could expand Asia’s deserts

From Chinadialogue.net: China’s massive Asian infrastructure network of proposed new roads, railways, ports and airports, linking 65 countries to itself must grapple with the same problem as the ancient Silk Road it’s been named after. Sand. Deserts present as big a problem along the “Silk Road Economic Belt” as when camel caravans ambled across Central.

Why increasing India’s solar energy capacity won’t work

From The Wire: The planned ten-fold increase in solar energy will add on an average only 20% of the total capacity, making little difference to India’s emissions. The government has not reduced its coal output targets and plans to raise coal output from the current 550 million tonnes to nearly a billion tonnes by 2022.

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