India Swelters as Europe Storms Ahead to Cut Emissions
Europe was tipped to introduce a new plan to combat global warming, committing it to the world’s most ambitious targets. If it goes ahead EU would cut emissions by 30% on 1990 levels by 2020, and cost an extra $58 billion a year by 2020, according to a report in The Times of London. Meanwhile, India has been going through a heatwave of record proportions.
Ben Webster in The Times of London (27 May 2010):
EUROPE was tipped to introduce a new plan to combat global warming, committing it to the world’s most ambitious targets.
The surprise plan proposes a massive increase in the target for cutting greenhouse gas emissions in this decade.
The European Commission is determined to press ahead with the cuts despite the financial turmoil gripping the bloc, even though it would require EU member states to impose far tougher financial penalties on their industries than are being considered by other large economies.
The plan, to cut emissions by 30 per cent on 1990 levels by 2020, would cost the EU an extra $58 billion a year by 2020, according to a draft of the commission’s communication leaked to The Times.
The existing target of a 20 per cent cut is already due to cost $84bn. The commission will argue that the lower target has become much easier to meet because of the recession, which resulted in the EU’s emissions falling more than 10 per cent last year as thousands of factories closed or cut production. Emissions last year were already 14 per cent below 1990 levels.
Business leaders fear thousands of jobs could be lost and energy bills could soar. Carbon taxes on road fuel, heating and other sources of emissions could be introduced, with proceeds reinvested in renewable energy.
The EU’s present policy is to wait for other countries to commit to equivalent action before raising its target to 30 per cent “as part of a genuine global effort”. But after the failure of the Copenhagen climate summit, a global deal on cutting emissions is unlikely to be agreed until the end of next year.
Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard will make the case for the EU to commit itself unilaterally to a 30 per cent cut to inspire other countries to follow suit and accelerate the development of low-carbon industries. The draft communication says: “The extra economic effort needed to reach 30 per cent – while still substantial – has fallen. Both the international context and the economic analysis suggest that the EU is right to continue preparing for a move to a 30 per cent target. With the 20 per cent target reachable with less effort, and the carbon price low, it also acts as a much less powerful incentive for change and innovation.”
The plan also says that the higher target would reduce air pollution from fossil fuels and improve the health of millions of people, generating up to $14bn a year in economic benefits from having a healthier population.
The draft commission document raises the possibility of trade wars by suggesting EU industries could be protected by imposing border tariffs on imported goods from non-EU countries with less stringent emission controls.
Jeremy Nicholson, director of the Energy Intensive Users Group, said: “A unilateral move to 30 per cent would damage the European economy at a time when we can ill afford it.”
Amanda Hodge, South Asia correspondent for The Australian (27 May 2010):
NORTHERN India is sweltering under a killer heatwave that has claimed 55 lives in the past 48 hours, with soaring temperatures shattering records and causing massive power blackouts and water shortages.
The Indian Bureau of Meteorology warned yesterday a swath of northern and central India – including Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat – was suffering a severe heatwave, with temperatures climbing to 48C and higher.
The temperature in the Rajasthani city of Kota reached an intolerable 48.4C on Tuesday, seven degrees above the average for this time of year.
Across the north, serious cases of heatstroke are stretching the resources of local hospitals, with admissions 20 per cent up on normal.
At Vadilal Sarabai hospital in the Gujarat capital of Ahmedabad, superintendent M.H. Makawanna said most of the patients were elderly people who could not acclimatise to the sudden rise in temperature.
Delhi has sweltered under intense heat for weeks, with the mercury tipped to top 46C yesterday. The misery has been intensified in parts of the city by prolonged electricity blackouts and irregular water supplies.
In outlying Mehrauli, some residents complain they have had no water for the past week.
“Today is the seventh day we’ve gone without water,” said Ruksana Choudhry.
“We have to buy water from private tankers for 200 to 300 rupees ($5 to $6.60). Even after that, carrying water up to the third floor is difficult.”
Bureau of Meteorology forecasters attribute the record heat to lack of atmospheric moisture, hot dry winds blowing from the Thar Desert and the after-effects of last year’s El Nino cycle – normally marked by a hot spring and summer.
This year is on track to be the world’s hottest since records began in the late 1800s. Recent figures from NASA and the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration show last month was the hottest April on record.
In India, mean temperatures for March and last month were the highest in more than 100 years.